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Carroll: Direct Marketing Delivers Direct Results

Direct marketing is the Rodney Dangerfield of the advertising industry. Some critics, by which I mean me, have routinely referred to it as dreck marketing, exemplified by the hat trick of over-caffeinated come-ons: junk mail, junk phone calls, and junkmercials like this classic for the Popeil Pocket Fisherman.

ANYONE WHO EVER GOES FISHING SHOULD OWN A POCKET FISHERMAN. COMPACT ENOUGH TO FIT INSIDE GLOVE COMPARTMENTS, LUNCH BOXES, BACKPACKS. IT'S ROD, REEL, LINE, BOBBER AND HOOK — WITH JOHNSON REEL AND TWINPLEX ROD THAT REACTS TO THE SLIGHTEST NIBBLE, YET STRONG ENOUGH TO HAUL IN THE BIG ONES. POPEIL'S POCKET FISHERMAN SPIN CASTING OUTFIT, INCLUDING BAIT, ONLY $19.95. NOW ALL YOU NEED IS A PLACE TO FISH.

Advertisers, of course, want to fish where the fishes are. But the lures of advertising are often difficult to quantify. Who knows how many actual sales, for example, will be generated by this Pepsi commercial that features a bouncy new logo blatantly ripped off from Barack Obama's "Change We Can Believe In" posters.

AND ALL THE WORLD IS MADE OF ENERGY, AND ALL THE WORLD IS ELECTRICITY, AND ALL THE WORLD IS MADE OF ENERGY, AND THERE'S A LOT INSIDE OF YOU AND THERE'S A LOT INSIDE OF ME.

Playing up to the new Pepsi Generation is all well and good, but the generation of sales results is what concerns consumer-goods companies the most. So the change they believe in is direct marketing.

That's because direct marketing tells you exactly where the fishes are. And in these parlous economic times, measuring the effectiveness of your ads is your best accessory if you're a marketing executive.

Consequently, direct marketing expenditures in the U.S. will increase this year - as will Internet advertising, another measurable medium. Meanwhile, overall ad spending — especially television advertising — will plummet, leaving direct marketing to account for 53 percent of U.S. ad spending in 2009.

Cue the Popeil Pocket Daughter, Shannon Popeil.

WE'RE GONNA DO SOME JERKY. I'M GONNA SHOW YOU HOW EASY IT IS TO MAKE BEEF JERKY.

Your jerky-junk-marketing punchline goes here.

John Carroll is senior media analyst for WBUR and a mass communication professor at Boston University.

This program aired on January 7, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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