The case for the DM defence is compelling

The reason marketing is often such an easy target for politicians, pressure groups and pundits looking to score easy popularity points is that criticism is seen as costing nothing.

Russell Parsons

Last week, the Direct Marketing Association tried to address this by producing a report that attempted to protect itself against attacks from regulators by quantifying the industry’s contribution to the UK economy.

For the record, an analysis of 600 companies commissioned by the trade body claims almost a quarter (23%) of all sales last year were attributable to DM. The report, which classifies direct marketing as any channel that uses personal data for one to one communication, claims that £14.2bn was spent on DM in 2011 with a higher return forecast for 2012.

Impressive figures that both seek to present DM as a success story, which it is using the DMA’s broad definition, and establish both an easy to understand defence and make it clear what the consequence of regulatory action is.

With EU regulators proposing data protection amendments that the industry fears will curtail growth and environmental groups still sniping over the volume of waste direct mail campaigns leave in their wake, it is a useful tool to accompany a reasoned defence.

Speaking at the ISBA conference earlier this year, John Whittingdale MP, said advertising’s problem is that calls for a ban here and further restriction there “does not cost anyone anything”

Marketing has become a punchbag for politicians and pressure groups. Arguments over the impact on alcohol and food consumption, for example, means the attacks will not cease completely. However, putting a value on an industry’s worth means the cost to the economy of action can be presented.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here