The TM Curse?Broken!
I 'm going to let you in on an inside joke at the Target Marketing offices.
For a while, we've been speculating that our Direct Marketer of the Year Award was cursed. Consider: Of the 12 previous winners, six had their careers hit the skids shortly after being proclaimed by us as the best in their field. A couple examples: 1) Who else but the infamous John Peterman to start our curse? A little more than two years after Target honored him, J. Peterman Co. filed for bankruptcy. 2) Ah, Jay Walker and Priceline! We knew we were taking a gamble on him as our October 1998 cover boy. It could have been worse: We could have owned Priceline stock.
But we've noticed the tide turning. Last year's winner, Beth O'Rorke, is still going strong at The Economist. Brook Holmberg (2002) might not be with The Christian Science Monitor any longer, but it's only because he's consumer marketing director at Yankee Publishing. And while The Sharper Image's Richard Thalheimer (2003) continues to battle with Consumer Reports over testing results for his Ionic Breeze air purifier, the company has been posting gains in all channels until this past year. (We're not worried—really!)
In fact, I'm going out on a limb to declare 13 a lucky number for Target Marketing … lucky because our 13th Direct Marketer of the Year is none other than industry veteran Pat Corpora, president and CEO of HCI Direct, the Bensalem, Pa., continuity marketer of hosiery.
I remember the first time I interviewed Corpora; it was 1993, and he was president of Rodale Press' wildly successful book division. I might have been a relative newbie to the industry, but it was obvious to me Corpora was a first-rate direct marketer, someone who understood that marketing channels could come and go but the customer database would always be the heart of a business. Long before anyone was buzzing about "customer centricity," he was gathering customer insight via surveys and focus groups to aid product development, creative execution and list selection.