Home > NewsRelease > #138 Blog Post, Paul Fredrick Sells Out
#138 Blog Post, Paul Fredrick Sells Out
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, October 20, 2021



#138Blog Post – Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Postedby Denny Hatch


Venture Capitalists Turn A Great
Direct Marketer into a Spammer


My last blog postdescribed how I have shrunk over the years. My wardrobe looked like hell on me,so we bought a couple of handsome jackets and slacks—summer & winter.


For manyyears—back when I was editor and publisher of Target Marketing magazine—Idressed up for meetings, conventions, calls on advertisers and grand three-martini lunches at upmarket ginmills.


My shirt vendorof choice was the Paul Frederick catalog that delivered good quality non-iron utilitarianshirts off-the-rack in my precise size (17” neck, 33” sleeves). I was acustomer for many years. Every couple of years shirts would wear thin and Iwould replace them.


In the 2004 Icalled Paul Fredrick Sacher, told him I was a customer and would like to do acover story for Target Marketing magazine. He called back and we spent agood hour on the phone.


My cover profileof Paul Fredrick ran in the May 2004 Target Marketing. I recentlyre-read my piece and discovered the fascinating story of a very bright, hard-workingyoung guy who stumbled into the shirt business and learned direct mail to build a thriving  menswear catalog business à la Lillian Vernon, John Peterman, Richard (Sharper Image) Thalheimerand Patricia and Mel (Banana Republic) Ziegler.


The candidinformation he shared with me — about direct marketing… about being anentrepreneur…  about launching andgrowing a business… was priceless!



Seventeenyears later I was absolutely comfortable going back to Paul Fredrick and orderinghis shirts.  


When I googledwww.PaulFredrick.com, his selectionof shirts looked as good as ever, albeit pricier than the $39 I paid years ago.I ordered a non-iron white dress shirt and a handsome checked casual one. Orderconfirmed.


These are the two shirts I selected—
A modest, conservative test order.



A Litany of Greed

The very nextday, I started getting a series junk emails from Paul Fredrick.com.


This from my Yahoo inbox thatfirst 2-1/2 days:

Paul Fredrick was blitzing my life with junkemails starting at zero hour+20 minutes of his receiving my order—throwing shitagainst my wall hoping some of it will stick


What arrived inmy in-box were e-offers for yes, more white and light blue dress shirts, butalso garish, gawdawful polka-dot and flowered short-and-long-sleeved shirts plus suits,jackets, trousers, shoes, belts, cuff links and ties—hundreds of items!


How dare they start glutting my inbox with e-junk a full 8 days before my shirts were delivered, so I had the courtesy of evaluating the merchandise I ordered!


Could theseemails really be coming from the elegant Paul Fredrick Sacher I knew?

I went backto my 17-year-old story to see Paul’s philosophy.

From my copy:

Paul Fredrick Sacher Offers the
Following Tips for Catalog Success:

• Advertise in the same media as yourcompetitors. Many fledgling entrepreneurs believe the best place to advertiseis where the competition isn’t. When he first started out, Sacher put his offerin publications that have off-the-page advertising and where his competitorswere cashing in. Such a practice has paid off handsomely for his catalog.


• Be careful with whom you partner. SaysSacher: “Thankfully I didn’t take on any venture capital deals that requiredunrealistically rapid growth.”


• Expand your scope. Originally, PaulFredrick MenStyle sold just three products: shirts, ties and cuff links. Butchanging lifestyles and work dress codes forced the company to expand its productscope. The company now offers a full line of casual shirts, trousers, sportscoats, suits and shoes. Also, it recently launched a custom shirt business.


• Invest in e-commerce. Allen Abbott, vicepresident of marketing, says, “It’s difficult to survive today without asophisticated presence on the Web.”


• When in doubt, do the obvious.When asked who designed the highly professional and complete catalog orderform, Sacher said that he did. “I studied what everybody else was doing and didwhat they did,” he notes.


My conclusion thesemailings did not come from the Paul Sacher I knew. The guy knew too much aboutdirect mail… and the fact that it is what Stan Rapp calls “intimateadvertising.” I envisioned two scenarios:


1.  Sacher had hired an ignorant millennial digital marketing kidlooking to score points with the boss (and maybe commissions for himself) by generating  instant add-on business.


2.  Sacher was bought out by a VC desperate to get some instant maximumROI.



ClearLight Partners Invests in Paul Fredrick
January 02, 2018 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
NEWPORTBEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Private equity firm ClearLight Partnersannounced today that it has made a majority investment in Paul Fredrick, a leading designer and direct-to-consumer retailer of men's apparel and related accessories. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Paul Fredrick was advised by KSCA | Investment Banking www.ksca.com). ClearLight was advised by DANU Capital Group www.danucapital.com).

ClearLight Partners' Portfolio



Clearly I wasdealing with a venture capitalist running the following businesses: fitnesscenters, ice cream makers, automotive leather, landscaping, tactical systemsand—TAH-DAH—the one business that’s in the same ballpark as direct marketerPaul Fredrick Sacher:


Walker Advertising


Clearly ClearLightPartners have no other direct marketing properties and don’t know squat about howto treat direct marketing customers. Instead, the word went out to the PaulFredrick team to generate a lot of add-on business orders quick to maximize their ROI.


Paul Fredrickjoined the ranks of the great catalogers that sold out to venturecapitalist vultures: Lillian Vernon (Ripplewood Holdings, Sun Capital Partners,Taylor Corporation),  Sharper ImageCamelot Venture Group), Brooks Brothers (Authentic Brands Group and SPARC GroupLLC), Brookstone (Chinese-owned Sailing Capital and Sanpower), TalbotsSycamore Partners).


The ClearLightPartners’ shirts finally arrived; they are glorious—the best shirts by far that I have ever owned. They fit beautifully and make me look like a classy dude for the first time in years. I'm 86. I don't wear dress shirts often. These two shirts will last me for the rest of my life.


What I don't need for the rest of my life are two (or more) emails a day from shirt importer Paul Fredrick. What was once valuable information has become common spam that irritates the hell out of me and reminds me of my mortality.

I told the PaulFredrick stooges to take my name off their lists and never contact me again. By return email (on a Sunday morning) I received the following:

Dear Denny Hatch,
Thank you for contacting Paul Fredrick. We removed your name and address from our catalog mailing list as you requested. We also removed you from our email list. Since we pre-address our catalogs, it can take up to thirty days for the complete removal to take effect. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact us at 1-800-247-1417 or email us at custserv@paulfredrick.com.

Paul Fredrick Customer Service

Takeaways to Consider

• “Directmarketing is intimate advertising.”
   —Stan Rapp


• "Direct marketing is not advertising in an envelope."
   —Bob Hacker 


• “To besuccessful in direct marketing you have to get inside the heads and under theskin of the person you are contacting: think how he thinks, feel what she feelsand become that person, just like a Method Actor becomes thecharacter being portrayed.”
   —Denny Hatch


• Justbecause e-marketing and e-mail are essentially free, it’s imperative to treat customersand prospects with respect.

• “The consumerisn’t a moron. She is your wife.
—David Ogilvy.

• “I eat three meals a day. I can't eat four."
   —L.L. Bean

• “Do untoothers as you would have them do unto you.”
   —Jesus of Nazareth, Sermon on the Mount,AD 30




Word Count: 1296 


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At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press.He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletterand archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 yearshe has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.



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