Tom Ryder

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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

The Direct Marketing Association tends to pick experienced and successful direct marketers for its Hall of Fame. So Jan Brandt, one of four being inducted on Oct. 14 during DMA08 in Las Vegas, is no different. That's why marketers' ears perk up when she speaks.

By Hallie Mummert After more than 40 years of perfecting the direct mail sweepstakes, Reader's Digest has closed its prize money vault. In 1998 newly appointed Reader's Digest Association CEO Tom Ryder saw the writing on the wall for the publishing giant, and announced a plan to revitalize the brand—starting with product improvements and a gradual weaning of sweepstakes promotions. Not surprisingly, this plan came at a time when Congress was pushing for sweepstakes reform, and the state attorneys general were punishing direct marketers they felt were the poster children of sweepstakes. Only a few years after strict legislation regulating sweepstakes promotions was passed

AOL & The Genius of Jan Brandt By Denny Hatch In 1993, Internet access was essentially a three-horse race. The text-heavy CompuServe was owned by the tax accounting people H&R Block and had about a million members. So did the cartoon-oriented Prodigy, a joint venture among CBS, Sears and IBM. The longshot was America Online (AOL), with its elegant Graphical User Interface (GUI), chat rooms and exclusive community-building techniques, that had been taken public the prior year by founder Steve Case; he had just under 250,000 members and was doing about $40 million a year in revenue. One advantage Case had over the

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