Do Not Mail — A New Problem for Mailers
“It’s not a public position that the industry would want to take going in,” he says. “We believe there are overriding significant reasons to avoid any restrictions on the free exchange of printed messages, and concerns over poor targeting should be resolved by industry self-policing and best practices.”
IWCO Direct’s Andersen points out that offering a compromise providing protections for the elderly, as an example, suggests that DNM legislation would prohibit shady marketers from preying on populations such as senior citizens. In reality, the cause and effect relationship does not exist.
“One of the bills introduced recently [produced] that reaction by a state congressman who focused on the entire industry, rather than asking his Attorney General to look into the activities of one or two companies,” Andersen says. “Other efforts have provided so many exceptions—political, nonprofit, prior relations—that the protections being sought become diluted, while the penalties suggested are stronger than appropriate.”
The unintended consequences of such legislation could provide a greater backlash beyond those whose financial interest lies in the continued trafficking of direct mail. In talking to saturation mailers, Davis says their findings reveal that people tend to get angry if they don’t get general mass mailings, particularly advertisements for local businesses that may include specials or coupons.
DNM Legislation Myths
Some observers see DNM legislation as a classic case of throwing out the baby with the bath water. Julie Busbee, PIA/GATF director of government affairs, notes that there are already services in place to help consumers cut down on the amount of advertisements they receive. Among the options available are the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service (dmaconsumers.org) and optoutprescreen.com. The latter, created by the major U.S. credit bureaus, stops all credit card and other prescreened offers.
Busbee notes that a lot of business interests would be impacted by any legislation that curtails advertising mail, especially the small establishments like pizza parlors and dry cleaners that rely on mailings because they cannot afford the cost of mass advertising. Larger national mailers, she adds, would be handcuffed in their efforts to attract new customers should such legislation be realized.