Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Future of Catalogs

My mailbox was full of catalogs this holiday season, including some from firms I haven't done business with in more than a decade. Is the Web killing off catalogs? Business Week looked at that issue in November and then examined the opt-out situation in December.

The Direct Marketing Association offers its Mail Preference Service, which allows consumers to specify which catalogs they prefer not to receive. But (and it's a big but) consumers have to include a credit card number to (1) verify their identity and (2) pay DMA $1 for the service. The association assures consumers that it uses "secure payment transaction processing to protect your credit card information."

So does the DMA think someone might maliciously decide to submit my name to be removed from the mailing list of a catalog I absolutely love? Or is this a way to make it more difficult for me to keep my mailbox clear of catalog clutter?

The DMA told Business Week that it will soon eliminate the $1 fee. But what about the requirement of submitting a credit card number? Sounds like a lot of unnecessary paperwork to discourage consumers from opting out. Ironically, the catalog companies are the real losers, since they spend time and money printing and mailing catalogs to too many people who just dump them in the recycle bin. Is that the future of catalogs?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Go Green with a ch-ch-ch-Chia Pet

Hard to believe, but new Chia Pets are introduced every year. Take a look at the latest crop (pun intended) on the site of maker Joseph Enterprises. From Shrek and Donkey to Bart and Homer Simpson, Chias are ready for your holiday gag gift-giving. Go green with ch-ch-ch-Chia!

Smithsonian Magazine recently covered Joe Pedott's marketing prowess in making Chia Pet the iconic brand it is today. Pedott is also responsible for making the Clapper a big hit. Who knew?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Troops of Bothers

Here's part of the packaging from a "Military Play Set--Soldier Heroism" made in China and imported by a company in California. Just below the word "soldier" is an interesting title: "Troops of Bothers." So that's what these toys are? Actually, they were cheapo plastic military trucks, cars, boats with fall-off wheels.

Flipping over the Flip

Just 1" deep, smaller than most digital cameras (at 2 1/8" x 4"), the Flip video device is handy and easy to use. Who needs a bulky, complicated camcorder when you can flip over the Flip? I put it on a tiny tripod to take unattended vids of important occasions like young family members trimming the tree. (Nobody even notices it's there--but I know because the red light shows that it's recording up to 60 mins worth of memories.)

To transfer video to my PC, I just flip out the built-in USB connector and let the included software walk me through the process. I can even grab snapshots from video segments or edit and bring segments together to make a movie. What could be handier?

Read about it on The Flip site. Worth checking out!