Ralph Lauren

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

U.S. fashion label Ralph Lauren is the latest luxury apparel brand to unveil a promoted Instagram post to expand its reach on the photo-sharing social platform. The ad featured an orange evening gown from the back, an image the brand had posted to its account a week before the promoted post appeared. Promoted Instagram posts are still fairly uncommon, but the reaction to Ralph Lauren's ad shows that consumers are starting to become more accepting of the sponsored content.

Founded by its namesake in 1967, the Ralph Lauren Corporation is one of the premier names in fashion retail. Besides high-end clothing, the brand is also known for its accessories, housewares, footwear, fragrances and home goods. The company sells its products both at its own stores and other retailers, and employs direct mail, email and social media to turn prospects into customers.

Is that a misprint? No, it's a QR code. A what? A Quick Response code, one of the latest marketing trends making its way to consumers via their web-enabled phones. Created in Japan in 1994, QR codes are a cousin of the common barcode so familiar to grocery shoppers. While barcodes have only one direction of data - usually vertical - QR codes contain data in both horizontal and vertical directions, thereby transmitting more information with the same speed as barcodes. The QR code feeds data into a cell phone via a QR code scanner, an app that's downloaded

Establishing a brand image that is fluid, one that can flex to move with the marketplace and "that consumers can adapt to their own individuality," according to fashion icon Ralph Lauren, is a worthy goal for any marketer.

This was a banner week for marketers and their ad agencies crying HELP! The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal ran long stories about the inability of Web advertisers to determine whether their ads were effective or not. I have spent 45 years in the world of direct marketing, a discipline that is able to measure results down to a gnat’s eyebrow—whether it be mail, space. TV, radio, telephone or the Web. Our feedback comes directly from those to whom we advertise. Yet the world of general agencies has somehow conned the dumb little yuppie MBA corporate brand managers into believing that it’s okay

Promotional copy I did not write: “As the kick-off to NEDMA ’06, at the much heralded Direct Marketer of the Year Awards Banquet on June 14, we will be graced by the presence of none other than legendary direct mail guru, Denny Hatch.” “Legendary direct mail guru?” Gimme a break! Peter Drucker once said people use the word “guru” because nobody can spell “charlatan.” However, the theme of the NEDMA (New England Direct Marketing Association) bash is, “It’s a Brave New World.” The title of my talk? “In a brave new world, old is better.” In college I was a D+ student and skinned out of Columbia with

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