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Experian is flying with what is for its industry an unusual ad medium for reaching fellow direct marketers.

The Orange, Calif.-based database marketer and credit reporting bureau has produced two spots that are running during in-flight programming on all U.S. routes of American Airlines and United Airlines. The videos, backing Experian's new List OnLine service, target business travelers in general and fellow direct marketers in particular, especially those who will be flying to Toronto this month for the 82nd annual conference and exhibition of the Direct Marketing Association.


List OnLine will be displayed at the DMA conference Oct. 24-27, and with roughly 15,000 individuals attending, the message now has a better chance of being noticed by the target audience, said Patrick Bernardi, director of marketing communications for Experian.

"We want to make sure that the direct marketing audience knows that we have an extensive product portfolio that supports initiatives from mailing lists to marketing databases through profiling your best customers and taking customers' files and doing data-hygiene on them so it cleans them up and takes away the duplicates," Mr. Bernardi said. "We need to get that message out in a big way -- these spots help us accomplish that in addition to direct mailings."

While initially it might seem absurd to market to potential competitors, Mr. Bernardi said the intent is to build relationships. Experian is relatively new to the direct marketing scene. It changed its name from TRW more than three years ago and acquired Direct Marketing Technology in April 1997 and Metromail in April 1998.

"I'm anticipating getting some phone calls from some potential partners wanting to strike up a strategic alliance," Mr. Bernardi said. "I am definitely going to be open to that kind of feedback resulting from List OnLine."


List OnLine, unveiled last month, is a resource for creating and ordering consumer demographic and business lists. The service leverages Experian's Insource database. This system boasts a demographic database featuring more than 1,000 data elements per record on about 98% of U.S. households, said an Experian spokesman.

List OnLine also offers self-reported consumer data on more than 30 million households as well as demographic and credit information on 13 million U.S. businesses, the spokesman said. The service can be accessed through the company's Web site (www.experian.com).

"They are one of a number of companies that make their databases available," said Susan K. Jones, a direct marketing professor at Ferris State University in Michigan and a partner in the Callahan Group. "Dun & Bradstreet, which rates companies' credit, makes lists available too, business to business. But the fact that you can access it from the Internet and get selects of who you want and who you don't want, that's what makes this exciting for me as a direct marketer."

Experian hopes to generate excitement for the service among small businesses, thereby rounding out a client base that includes American Express Co. and Victoria's Secret.


"With this campaign, we wanted to create room for folks who needed this same type of service but who didn't need 400,000 names," Mr. Bernardi said. "This is for small companies that want to churn and burn and move quickly. That's the way List OnLine fits into our portfolio."

Mr. Bernardi said he hopes Experian's endeavor in in-flight programming will serve as an inspiration to the direct business, which needs to shunt aside old

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