of the Year: Brian Cowart
October 1, 2011

It's a phrase Brian Cowart probably says a lot: "I'm sorry I made you cry." It's not that the senior vice president of national direct marketing for ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is mean. It's that Target Marketing magazine's 2011 Direct Marketer of the Year is such an effective communicator about his organization—which works to cure children of cancer and other catastrophic diseases—that listeners' tears just come naturally.

Archive Observations: A Good Time To Look Back
January 22, 2009

Amidst the market turbulence in October, a number of mailings stopped offering free reviews of finances and investments. Instead, they are providing services to reassure prospects and help alleviate any financial stress.

A Passion for Politics
November 4, 2008

I've been around for 12 presidential administrations—starting with that of Franklin Roosevelt, who died in office when I was 10. In my memory bank are five deeply flawed men who turned the highest office into a national nightmare and were rendered politically impotent during the final years of their presidencies: John F. Kennedy (Bay of Pigs, Cuban missile crisis, assassination), Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam), Richard Nixon (Watergate), Jimmy Carter (Iran hostage crisis) and Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky).

My family was not Democratic nor Republican. Nor am I. I've always voted for whomever I believed to be the best person for the job. As a result, I'm a registered Independent, which means I never vote in primary elections. If that's a cop-out, so be it.

For the record, up to the current administration (on which the jury is still out) I voted Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41 and Clinton.

Only twice in my life have I seen the country crippled and disfigured, resulting in genuine grassroots passion in a presidential election: 1968 and 2008.

The year I got passionate about politics—and dispassionate—was 1968.

Archive Observations: Capitalizing On Energy Fears
September 11, 2008

There's nothing like a good crisis to motivate nervous investors to subscribe to any one of scores of financial newsletters. The files of the Archive are a record of warnings about stock market bubbles, depressions and wars. The recent spike in worldwide oil prices is just the latest grist for the mill. As the cover of the 8-1/2" x 11" magalog for Energy in Focus says, "The economy is sinking like dead weight" (Archive code #270-715078-0805). The copy inside debunks various oil industry "myths," and offers a free subscription to the newsletter, to help choose the right investments. The sample issue promotion for Outstanding Investments mailed in a 6" x 9" envelope, describes the factors it sees as responsible for the "Oil War of 2008," and also promises safer investments (Archive code #270-693578-0805). Meanwhile, another mailing promises that salvation is just around the corner. "Breakthrough technology to knock gasoline down to $1 a gallon" proclaims the teaser on the #10 outer for the Oil & Energy Investment Report (Archive code #270-637645-0805).

Jeff Bezos and the Wow Factor
June 5, 2008

Double meeting room 403AB at the Los Angeles Convention Center was filled last Saturday—close to 1,000 people. Jeff Bezos (pronounced Bayzos), the peripatetic founder and CEO of the behemoth, took the stage. Wiry and balding, Bezos wore jeans, an open collar shirt and jacket. He produced one of his small, incredibly thin and lightweight book-storage and reading machines—the Kindle—and started reading: Throughout American history, presidential ministrations have undergone tumultuous periods of war and scandal. I happened to become White House press secretary at a time when the administration of George W. Bush was going through both, and they were intimately related to each