Letters, April 28, 2008

Published on .

DMA: We're Focused on More Than Cost

RE: "To Direct Mailers, Green Means One Thing: Cash." We are well aware of the Forrester Research study and the inclusion of direct marketers in this most recent report. My purpose in writing is to take issue with the exclusion of the Direct Marketing Association's position on the report's findings, despite a 20-minute interview with Jerry Cerasale, DMA's senior VP-government affairs. The key points Mr. Cerasale provided Advertising Age are not represented anywhere in the story.

Yes, direct marketers are cost-conscious, just as any business [that] seeks operational efficiencies on a daily basis [is]. However, Advertising Age's reporting is overly simplistic in positioning direct marketers as solely focused on cost. Indeed, the report itself contains findings, in addition to the data Mr. Cerasale provided, that directly support how the direct-marketing community has been committed for more than a decade to preserving the environment.

Furthermore, the report's statistical relevance is hardly representative of the direct-marketing community, with only 55 people purportedly talking on behalf of a $600 billion business involving multiple millions of people across the United States.

Even more specifically:
  • Our mail preference service, dmachoice.org, allows consumers to easily manage their mail. Last year, this self-regulatory program prevented 930 million mailings.

  • Our direct-marketing community requires its members to follow Commitment to Consumer Choice guidelines, which empowers consumers with choice to address privacy concerns, volume of mail received and environmental issues. We have implemented a monitoring process to ensure compliance, which will give consumers more of what they want and less of what they don't want.

  • Our catalog members are constantly seeking ways to conserve natural resources, from recycling misprints and paper scraps from their marketing materials to reducing the width and weight of catalogs. This makes environmental sense, and is also good business sense because postal rates are based on weight and shape.

  • Our direct marketers are working with city and county governments on ways to increase the number of areas where people can recycle mixed paper; printers are switching to soy-based ink; and our members are considering new types of lighting in their facilities to help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions -- again, all environmentally significant, as well as good business sense.

  • Our direct marketers have been instrumental in reducing CO2 emissions and energy usage as the result of catalog and/or direct-mail shopping. In fact, by replacing just two shopping trips to the mall each year, Americans eliminate 3.3 billion driving miles, reduce emissions by 3 billion pounds, and save more than $490 million on gas costs.
We recognize our responsibility, and in fact, the research points out that direct marketers have reduced the volume of mail and engaged in environmentally active initiatives.

Can more be done? Of course, and our members recognize that as well. We offered your publication additional background, also omitted in the reporting and the Forrester research, about "The Green 15" -- environmental commitments adopted one year ago encouraging the direct-marketing community to focus on paper procurement and use; data management to reduce undeliverable mail; mail design and production; product packaging; recycling and pollution reduction.

We value our environmental responsibility, and responses from a few should not be taken as an indictment against the entire direct-marketing community, particularly when you consider that any dispassionate discussion about corporate social responsibility should always include a companion discussion about economic responsibility to those being directly affected -- employees, businesses, communities and, of course, the environment.

There has been substantial progress. More is being achieved daily as our community works diligently on "self regulation" rather than regulatory mandates on businesses that are critical to the economic well-being of communities throughout the United States.
John A. Greco, Jr.
Direct Marketing Association


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