Monday, May 9, 2011

Mildred Pierce Pays Tribute to Direct Mail

This weekend, I watched the very gifted Kate Winslet starring in the Todd Haynes-directed TV mini-series, Mildred Pierce. In her role as a beleagued restaurateur (among other beleaguered life choices), Winslet opens the door of her new chicken place… and then waits .. and waits….

Tense moments pass before the tables begin filling up. And then the flood of hungry diners almost overtakes Mildred. Where did all these people come from, she asks her friend and business partner, Wally Burgan. “It’s direct mail, baby. It works because you only mail to people you want!”

Wow. That got my attention.

When Mildred’s restaurant opened in the depression era (1932), “direct mail” couldn’t have been a term bandied about by the uninitiated. But the business-savvy Wally definitely knew his marketing. In the “History of Direct Mail,” one expert estimated that, in 1920, 45 percent of total American commerce was done through the mails.

At first glance, Wally's appeared to be an anachronistic reference to direct mail, but Mildred Pierce historians were dead on. And they were prescient, too.

Direct mail worked then and it still works. Now, more than ever, you can mail only to people you want -- which in 2011, are likely the very same people who want you.

Thanks, Wally.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

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