11 August 2000

Chris Gordon, chief executive of Britain's top ranking direct marketing shop, Omnicom-owned WWAV Rapp Collins, has publicly criticised a joint plan by the Royal Mail and Dutch postal operator KPN to back the Postal Preference Service, in direct competition with the UK industry’s official Mailing Preference Service administered by the Direct Marketing Association.

The RM/KPN initiative is a new database-driven scheme that invites consumers to complete a lifestyle questionnaire, promising that “you will receive more of the mail you want and less of the mail you don't”. A test mailing for the project was headlined “Stop junk mail,” followed by body copy promising consumers they could “stop junk mail for life”.

“From an industry perspective”, avers Gordon, “it is astounding that the Royal Mail, which promotes the use of direct mail as a medium, should try to make capital out of peddling the 'junk mail' argument. The very term is one the industry has been fighting against for years — now our self-styled media owner perpetuates the myth.”

He has written to the new UK mail regulator, the Postal Services Commission, as well as the Department for Trade & Industry and the Consumers’ Association, questioning whether the PPS has been correctly set-up.

With a characteristic touch of unconscious irony, the Royal Mail has invited a number of dm shops to pitch for promoting the PPS project. But one anonymous ‘industry source’ was definitely not amused: “I would have to question the sanity of them putting the brief out in the first place,” fulminated the source. “Royal Mail is asking the industry to pitch for a task to cannibalise not only their own agencies, but also the client's own business.”

The Royal Mail declined to comment on the matter.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)