Coke or Pepsi?Who's the Direct Marketer?
By Alicia Orr Suman
TRASHing Direct mail seemed to be the theme for much of the annual DMD New York Marketing Conference & Expo (held for the first time at the Javits Center-—ugh—in June). I long considered this event a wealth of ideas for direct marketers. The best consultants from New York and around the country spoke at the show, and practitioners—from publishers to bankers—were there to network and learn.
This year, however, I was disappointed when the keynote and luncheon speeches had little to do with direct marketing. One speaker went so far as to bash direct mail while hailing e-mail marketing as direct marketing's savior. Peter Sealey, former executive vice president of marketing at Coca-Cola, told the audience: "E-mail is better than direct mail in terms of campaign time, cost and response." While he commended direct marketers for being the first to create measurable campaigns, he told us we can no longer live with our average 2-percent response rates in an age when e-mail can do so much better.
In his talk, Sealey also spoke extensively of retail UPC codes and what they did for Wal-Mart and that a similar phenomenon soon would take place in the advertising industry when a new super ISCI code system will make virtually all marketing and advertising "direct" by making it trackable.
This certainly sounds interesting. But direct marketing is defined by a lot more than just being trackable. Consider the Britney Spears case study used by another of the conference's speakers, keynoter John Costello of Yahoo. Costello showed an online video clip of Spears advertising Pepsi on Yahoo—something Pepsi apparently deems direct marketing. I don't think so. While its viewership and hits might be trackable, this is still general advertising. No call to action or offer are needed to drive traffic to the grocery store to get people to buy Pepsi. They buy it because they like the image portrayed in the ads (or maybe they like the taste better than Coke).