Direct Marketer of the Year Grolier's Dante Cirilli (3,801 wor
Cirilli pulls no punches when it comes to lists and privacy issues. "We absolutely have to have children's names to do business," he asserts.
He's been an outspoken advocate of proper list use in the direct marketing community, even testifying before Congress in 1996.
Cirilli explains how that situation unfolded: "There was talk that pedophiles were using lists to get to kids, which was an absurd concept, but it got the people in Washington fired up."
We went to Washington, D.C. to talk to Gary Franks, a congressman from Connecticut. He said to me, "if you want to do something really valuable, go and talk to the House subcommittee that's set to have a hearing on the Children's Privacy and Parental Empowerment Act tomorrow." I decided this was important enough that I'd stay over, so I went out and bought a shirt and underwear and got a hotel room for the night.
At the hearing, Cirilli says he learned that the congressional committee members really didn't understand the implications of what they were ruling on—both for businesses and for families.
Says Cirilli, "I showed them the books, I held up the Disney books ... I explained what we did, how we needed list information and how putting a stop to our business would hurt their constituents—families whose joint incomes are $40,000. These are our customers."
According to Cirilli, list restrictions that have been proposed in the past (and will likely be again) would "destroy the economies of scale we have in making these books available." Not only would it kill the book club business, he says, it would be detrimental to young families with lower incomes who are Grolier Direct Marketing's primary market.
Grolier has not forgotten the international market for its direct marketing products. Most recently, Grolier Inc. bought Weldon By Mail, an Australia-based direct marketer of children's book programs. In Australia and New Zealand, Weldon currently has license with Disney Marketing for the Disney Book Club and with Random House for the Beginner Readers Program, featuring titles by Dr. Seuss.