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#181 Junk Journalist
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, February 15, 2023



#181 Blog Post – Thursday, February 16,2023


Posted by Denny Hatch


The New York Times New Junk Journalist



 When a reporter from The New YorkTimes sends me an email, I take notice. When her invitation is for me to sendher “bad ads,” I am stopped cold. What is a “bad ad” (other than two words thatrhyme)?


I can’t judge whether advertising isgood or bad. Advertising judges me.


If an ad — digital, print, direct mailor TV — is repeated over and over again, it’s ipso factoa good ad. In the immortal words of Dorothy Kerr, circdirector of US News & World Report: “If an offer keeps coming in over andover again, it’s obviously profitable. Study it and STEAL SMART.”


What Constituteda Bad Ad in Those Salad days?

My first job in direct marketing wasin 1961. The industry association was the DMA — The Direct Mail MarketingAssociation. Back then Direct Marketing was Direct Mail — intimate personalme-to-you communications retrieved in the privacy of your mailbox.


Direct mail was the dominantadvertising medium — far bigger than ads in newspapers, magazines, TV or telemarketing. America’smailboxes were stuffed with direct mail. Direct mail was the aristocrat of advertising.


Direct mail also saved (and is saving)the Postal Service. Without direct mail advertising revenue, the USPS would beout of business.


In those days, the definition of a“bad ad” was a direct mail package that was sent to the wrong person.


At some point direct mail got thegood-natured nickname of “junk mail.


The Direct Mail Marketing Association underfounder Henry “Pete” Hoke and his committee chairs hated the term “junk mail.” For anumber of years, the DMA bigwigs threatened perdition and even lawsuits againstany person or company that used the term “junk mail” in an article or speech.No kidding.


AQuickie Aside.

The wittiest and most fun copywriting team ofall time was the legendary Bill Jayme and his designer partner, HeikkiRatalahti. One time Bill and I compared notes and discovered we both adored theterm ”junk mail.” What’s more, we both loved using the term because it pissedpeople off.


Jayme expressed his real feelings about “junk mail” in aninterview he did for my WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter manyyears ago. Jayme said:

     “Idon't understand why the industry hates the term junk mail. 

     “Ilove it. 

     “Afterall, antique dealers love junk shops. Old carenthusiasts love junk yards. Until a few years ago, WallStreet loved junk bonds. Who among us doesn't love tohead for the beach house with a pile of junk fiction? And what's a Hong Kongfisherman without his beloved junk? 

     “Junkis a wonderful word. 

     “Ofcourse, in Heikki's and my case, we spell it “junque.”




Okay, Back to the  New York Times New JunkJournalist
Google “Tiffany Hsu” and here’s what comes up:


“Tiffany is currently a reporterfocusing on disinformation for The New York Times. She holds an MBA and journalism master's degree fromColumbia University. She was previously an award-winning California economyreporter at the Los Angeles Times.”


What Was The New York Times Thinking???

Why was an “award-winning California economyreporter" handed the prestigious New York Times advertising beat? Has she read David Ogilvy? Vic Schwab?Joan Throckmorton? Drayton Byrd? Bob Bly? Rosser Reeves? Denny Hatch? Does she know the meaning of CPM, CPO,allowable cost-per-order? Has she ever written and designed an ad? What are hercriteria for passing judgment on a “good ad” or a “bad ad”?


• In short, Tiffany Hsu doesn’t seem to have the creds to know squatabout advertising.


• Why would The New York Times — with $110 millionin advertising revenue—hire “an award-winning California economy reporter” tocreate a worldwide Let’s-All-Crap-on-Advertising grievance association among its 9.3 millionsubscribers and millions more outsiders? 


Here’s the California Economy Expert Pontificating About Advertising

“If you are encountering more unwantedads, please share them with me. I am a reporter at The New York Times, focusingon misinformation, with years spent covering media and marketing. Bad ads canbe a sign of many things: a weakening economy, a shift in priorities for socialmedia companies, even a bolder push by malicious actors to indoctrinateconsumers. Your experiences can help us understand the factors at play.”




Another Tiffany Hsupronouncement in the Times:

“Recent ads onTwitter, as described by users, have made the platform feel like a tabloidmagazine or the haunting ground of Ron Popeil, the inventor of wares people didn’tknow they needed including the Veg-O-Matic, the Ronco Electric Food Dehydratorand the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler...”





Tiffany’s Challenge to Us N.Y. Times Readers

“Have younoticed more unwelcome ads (for example, irrelevant, repetitive, misleading) onsocial media lately?


Let’s parse the three words that Tiffany claims constitute“unwelcome”:

Irrelevant, Repetitive, and Misleading:



Peggy & I sold our big car four years ago. Publictransportation in Philly is free to seniors. Our parking garage, gas, insuranceand repairs cost us oh… maybe $8,000 a year. That’s a lot of Ubers and taxisdelivering us to a lot of front doors and tips to the food delivery folks fromAcme, Wegman’s and Little Italy Pizzeria. Yes, I think you’ll agree that for Peggyand me, “automobile ads are indeed irrelevant.” But, Hey! I don’t find car ads“unwelcome.” I love 'em! I’m delighted to learn about new models, see glorious photographs of them and know about the five-and six-figure prices reckless polluters are happily paying. (Exception of course, EVs.)



Nobody remembers an ad once. One has to see an ad multiple timesbefore the message sinks in. I can’t count the number of times a day on TV thatI get hit with the emu’s theme song, “Liberty, Liberty, Liberty… only pay forwhat you need.” In short, repetition is an essential element in all advertising.



How can you know it’s misleading unless you’vetried the product or service? Does it live up to the promises in its ads? Ifnot, did you ask for your money back? Did you get a response? Or — as with theairlines these days when they cancel your flight last minute — did they keep yourmoney? In short, how can you instantly know an ad is “misleading” unless you’vebeen misled by that advertiser?


What Ads Do I Find Unwelcome?Here’s an instant classic I can’t wait to share with you.


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Takeaways to Consider

• No kidding.The above is what I received this past Saturday. Verbatim.


• If you wantto pursue the work of Tiffany Hsu, here are links in recent issues of The NewYork Times.






• Forget about award-winning advertisements.

"Awards are like hemorrhoids. Every old asshole gets one.

   —François Ozon, "Swimming Pool"


• In thewords of my very first boss in business, Henry Castor: “God protect us fromamateurs!”




Word count:1722




The Most Fun You Can Have
In the English Language
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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