DM Media Digest: American Express, Royal Mail, Capital One, Proximity

Welcome to the second issue of DM Media Digest, Marketing Direct's round-up of recent stories from local, national, international and trade press. This compilation is designed to keep you abreast of the most significant media reports relating to direct and digital marketing.


The Sunday Telegraph broke the story about how the BBC has sacked Proximity London over licence fee warning letters containing false statistics. The Sunday Telegraph broke the story on 14 December of how the BBC's TV Licensing arm has fired Proximity London, just days after the agency won a DMA gold for work on the account. Proximity was told that its contract would be re-tendered after millions of letters reminding viewers to pay their licence fee were found to contain false statistics, the Sunday Telegraph revealed. The corporation took the action after it was forced to admit, following an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph, that 6.6 million inaccurate letters had been sent by its TV Licensing arm over the past three years. Proximity told the BBC that it is taking disciplinary action. The Sunday Telegraph, 14 December 2008

Direct mail

Sears, Capital One, American Express make watchdog's 'Naughty' List of direct mailers and catalogue brands, reports Ad Age. Not-for-profit group ForestEthics compiles an annual "Naughty and Nice" environmental scorecard and put seven of the biggest direct marketing users on its 2008 list. A company's scorecard ranking is determined by criteria such as whether it uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and the amount of post-consumer recycled content in the company's direct mail. The DMA The "Nice" list includes Timberland, Patagonia, Crate & Barrel, Dell, and Macy's. The US DMA has issued a rebuttal statement. Ad Age, 16 December 2008

Direct marketing has become "a profligate disaster of epic proportions", according to the branding blog on Branding Strategy's website. The relatively low cost of direct mail ensures that a campaign can prove profitable even if less than 2% of those targeted actually respond. The current sad state of affairs contrasts with the bright vision offered to marketers back in the 70s from visionaries like Lester Wunderman. Direct marketers were set to revolutionise the world by targeting tightly defined customer segments who were identified as having particular needs and preferences. Direct campaigns rarely achieve these laudable goals., 13 December 2008

Postal services

Six years ago a merger between the ailing Royal Mail, then called Consignia, and TPG, the Dutch postal group now rebranded as TNT, was attempted by the Government, The Times reports. The idea was that a more commercially savvy organisation would inject more money and a better business sense into Royal Mail. Six years on, the plan has been revived for the same reasons. Last year Royal Mail was loss-making and ranked last in a list of 13 Western European operators' profit margins. Its potential saviour, TNT, was top at 14.8 per cent, followed by Deutsche Post with 12.9 per cent. The Times, 16 December 2008


The Public Accounts Committee has recommended that the British Council speed up work on a single database for all its customers, according to a news item on A report from the committee said the British Council needs to move "as quickly as possible" to a single record system for its 15 million customers, which can be used across the 110 countries that it operates in. The report has noted frustration within the British Council over the slow pace of a project to develop a global CRM system. The project is two years behind schedule, partly due to the complexity and scale of developing a system capable of operating across 110 countries. The British Council is already running CRM pilots in China and Europe to find out how the council can define its requirements., 11 December 2008

Contact centres

O2 sacked around 22 people from one call centre last week, as part of its tougher stance on call centre staff that purposely avoid customer calls, Mobile Today reports. The sackings are mainly due to staff deliberately cutting off angry customers, or making themselves unavailable to receive calls. O2 said problem employee practices had been ‘detected' as the operator started a new programme to improve customer experience. Mobile Today, 17 December 2008

Mobile marketing

Mobile is coming of age as an advertising medium on the back of key milestones in 2008 and is tipped to attract a "significant" portion of media budgets by 2013, according to the Mobile Marketing Association and reported by Media Week. The positive forecast comes as the MMA reports its most successful year yet following global expansion, with the addition of a Latin American branch, as well as more than 40% growth in membership to exceed 700 companies. Media Week, 15 December 2008

Social networks

Social net spending will be even lower than thought next year, The Guardian reports, quoting data from consultants eMarketer. Advertisers will only have spent $1.2bn on social media ads by the end of this year - down 14% from its prediction of $1.4bn in May. And the researcher is curtailing its prediction of social net spending growth by nearly 28% for next year as well: from its projection of $1.8bn to $1.3bn next year. The recession and slower-than-expected revenue growth at MySpace are two main reasons for this cut. The Guardian, 11 December 2008

Automotive DM

In an article entitled ‘Crunched, autos go for direct,' US weekly DM News reports that ad agencies with auto business have cut back, including Chrysler agency BBDO Detroit which axed 145 jobs. But so far the effect on DM firms is less negative. "We've been looking at shifting our advertising efforts to include online, because digital is a little bit more direct, and we can measure it more," said Carrie McElwee, a Chrysler spokesperson. "We're continuing to grow our automotive business," says Tim Longnecker, industry executive for Acxiom's automotive business. The focus will be on trigger-based marketing that quickly delivers a message to consumers who indicate by their online activities that they are in the market for a car., 8 December 2008







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