Russell Perkins

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

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

In the interview process for Target Marketing magazine's January cover story, "The Big Qs of 2012," we asked our expert panelists what they foresee being the biggest headaches for direct marketers this year. Several of them declined to answer, but those who did answer offered these warnings:

With the New Year here, Target Marketing spoke with industry experts about a number of issues, from cross-channel communication to consumer privacy, to discover what marketers need to focus on in 2012.

What triggered this column was a full-page advertisement in The New York Times for Pradaxa, a drug designed to treat a heart condition called atrial fibrillation, which has just been cleared for launch into the marketplace.

The stakes are huge. One pharmaceutical analyst predicted that by 2018, Pradaxa will generate blockbuster revenues of $1.38 billion.

The headline of the ad and deck are shown in the IN THE NEWS box at right.

It is immediately obvious that Pradaxa hired rank amateurs to create its print campaign.

Clearly, neither advertiser nor agency nor creative people had a clue what they were doing. The ad breaks the most basic rule of advertising, which means that it was flat out missed by many of the very patients it was aiming to reach.

Late last summer I ordered two pairs of chino trousers from L.L. Bean and a couple polo shirts, which arrived a day or two later. I clothed my upper and lower halves with the new merchandise, and both pieces fit my dreadful flesh-case beautifully.

Where Land's End trousers seem to slip off the spare tire of my middle and threaten to drop down around my ankles just when I'm carrying a heavy sack of groceries in one hand and a gallon of Stoli in the other, these marvels from L.L. Bean look and feel custom tailored. I was thrilled.

When it came time to wash them, I looked at the label to see what the settings should be and discovered the polo shirts were made in Thailand. On the chino trousers label, a line of copy made my blood run cold.

"Made in China."

The Chinese government is brutal, repressive and vicious. In China, a nation of polluters, a new coal-fired plant comes online every 10 days. The brown cloud over Beijing is disgusting. The Chinese are also state-sanctioned killers of girl babies. In addition, they kill other babies (poisoned milk), American children (lead paint in toys), beloved dogs (poisoned pet food) and Tibetan monks, as well as being jailers of dissidents and the press. China's blatant counterfeiting of luxury and everyday products—together with massive theft of intellectual property—is responsible for billions of dollars in losses the world over.

I resent L.L. Bean making me an unwitting accomplice to criminal behavior.

In more jobs than I care to remember, my single objective was efficiency: How could the most value be created for the least cost, and then sold to delighted customers and eager prospects at the highest profit? When I read last week that two Philadelphia TV stations—Fox29 and NBC10—are going to test the possibility of sharing video footage, I was intrigued. The idea that competing news gatherers would pool their resources is a breakthrough! For example, CBS and CNN spend millions of dollars on equipment and personnel gathering news in Iraq, mostly going after the same stories, interviewing the same people and doing stand-up

One of the great thrills of traveling far from home—Nairobi, Cairo, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Amman—was to wake up in the middle of the night and turn on my tiny, portable shortwave radio with a pillow speaker. Suddenly breaking through the myriad static would be “Lillibullero,” the BBC’s signature tune at the top of the hour, always sounding tinny, as though it were coming over an old 78-rpm phonograph. This would be followed by series of beeps and a voice with a very English accent coming out of the blackness of a hotel room in a foreign land: Beep ... Beep ... Beep ...

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