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Celebrating direct mail and the Father of Direct Marketing

Last month the ‘Father of Direct Marketing’, Lester Wunderman, sadly passed away. We look at the role he played in the rise of DM.

Wunderman is widely credited for coining the phrase ‘direct marketing’ back in 1961, using the term as a new way to describe direct mail and mail order. This label quickly caught on and it became its own recognised discipline in the same year. Over the years direct marketing evolved and encompassed more channels than just the post. Its modern definition is any touchpoint that goes direct to an individual customer. Yet for many marketers the mail will always be the heart of direct marketing.

Direct mail continues to be an incredibly effective way to reach customers (that of course have given their permission) in a tangible and personal manner. No other channel has the ability to literally put the brand in the hand. Our research shows that despite the beleaguered reputation of direct mail and the irrepressible junk mail tag, the perception of the channel amongst consumers is on the up. Particularly amongst digital natives who are unused to receiving mail, unlike older generations who remember the doormat littered with envelopes two, if not three, times a day!

Whilst Lester did not invent the channel he did much to promote it and establish it as a legitimate route to market. Whilst the volume hey days of the 60s and 70s might now be a distant memory, the creativity and strategic use of data in direct mail campaigns is now at its zenith and the much talked about renaissance of the channel is no exaggeration.


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