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Employment growth in the direct marketing industry continues to outpace the overall U.S. job rate by nearly 4 percentage points, Direct Marketing Association President-CEO H. Robert Wientzen reported at the group's 83rd annual conference and exhibition in New Orleans last week. According to the DMA's 2000 Economic Impact Study, to be released early next month, employment in the direct marketing field is expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.6% over the next five years, compared with the U.S. job growth rate of 1.3%. This year, more than 14.7 million people are in direct marketing careers, and by 2005 the number of jobs available is forecast to rise to 18.5 million., Chicago, last week at the DMA show launched YesConnect, a Web-based product that enables companies to control their e-mail marketing campaigns online in real time. Yesmail invested $5 million in the self-serve technology, which allows clients to access audience data and refine targets, create messages, schedule message delivery, and track response rates via the Internet, while still having access to Yesmail's marketing and customer service agents.

Fisher-Price plans to design its own line of children's apparel to sell directly to consumers via a catalog and Web site debuting next summer. The first Fisher-Price Childrenswear catalog will be mailed to more than 1 million families of pre-school children in mid-August, and the complete line of 75 items will be available at

WorldLink, Los Angeles, inked a deal with American Independent Network to be its exclusive rep company for direct response TV sales and programming. Advertisers will be offered a standalone media buy that reaches more than 16 million households through American Independent Network's 50 local affiliate stations.

Money Mailer, Garden Grove, Calif., plans to grow its Home at Last cooperative mail product, targeting new movers, by increasing circulation and frequency in 2001. The direct mail company will boost the mailing to 100 million envelopes eight times a year from 85 million sent seven times in 2000.

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