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Tribune Direct : The Magic of Technology

May 2012 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
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There is an old baseball adage aimed at underachievers who have high opinions of themselves: It is said of those people that they are born on third base, yet believe they hit a triple. But, not everyone takes good fortune for granted.

Case in point is Tribune Direct, the direct mail printing offshoot of the Chicago Tribune Media Group, perhaps best known for its venerable Chicago Tribune newspaper. It has been a fixture of the Windy City for more than 160 years. And while Tribune Co. formerly owned the Chicago Cubs, its direct mail progeny is anything but a petulant braggart riding its parent’s coattails into third base. Tribune Direct may be a fortunate 20-year-old son, but “he” doesn’t boast a sense of entitlement.

“We have a great brand name, a trusted name in the marketplace that is steeped in tradition and history,” exclaims Tribune Direct President Lou Tazioli. “We have a national footprint and the ability to work with national marketers in a more cost-effective way. Tribune Direct can bring together all the elements that are critical to making a direct marketer successful—the agency expertise, the variable color production expertise and the technology to manage that environment.

“Anyone can run a color printer. But mailing a million pieces—where each piece is unique to the individual, where you’re dealing with 1,000 or 2,000 unique art files, along with the different segments, micro segments and offers in a seamless, easy-to-digest way—that’s the magic of the technology and how we deal with the data workflow.”

Young Veterans

Though Tribune Direct has been dealing in technology magic since just 1991, it has racked up a good deal of mileage—manufacturing and mailing more than seven million pieces of direct mail per day, backed by a team of 300 employees based in its native Chicago and facilities in Los Angeles; Dallas; Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Hartford, CT; and Allentown, PA.

Tribune Direct prides itself on addressing the needs of local and national clients, the largest vertical of which is retail—grocery, pharmacy, apparel, department stores and automotive. Telecom and financial customers have also enabled Tribune Direct to boost its 2011 revenues to nearly $100 million.

One of its cornerstone offerings is shared mail, “Trib Local Values,” a twice-a-week saturation program in the Chicagoland area that is delivered to non-subscribers of the Tribune newspaper. The advertising vehicle features promotions from local grocery stores, retailers and service firms, and reaches 3.2 million homes during the week and 2.1 million on the weekend. In 2008, Valassis Communications merged its RedPlum ad mail program with Trib Local Values to create a co-branded mail package.


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