Catalog Choice, Another Opt-Out Service, Debuts

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Add to the list of services claiming to help consumers opt out of unwanted direct mail Catalog Choice, a not-for-profit that launched earlier this month.

“Developed by a group of leading environmental organizations, Catalog Choice aims to improve the efficiency of catalog distribution by reducing the number of repeat and unsolicited mailings and promoting the best environmental practices in the catalog industry,” the group said in a press release.

Catalog Choice joins a growing list of anti-direct marketing groups that include GreenDimes.com and 41Pounds.org.

Unlike other opt-out schemes, however, Catalog Choice is free to consumers and marketers.

As concerns over the environment and global warming continue to gain intensity, direct mailers are coming under increasing fire from multiple fronts.

Direct Marketing Association president John Greco last week said in his keynote to DMA07 attendees that 18 different do-not-mail bills were introduced in 15 states last year. In a bid t head off more do-not-mail efforts, he called on direct marketers to post clear opt-out instructions on all their mailings as part of the organization’s so-called Commitment to Consumer Choice.

The DMA also runs its own mail preference service through which consumers can opt out of prospecting direct mail for $1.

However, environmentalists and other anti-advertising groups are increasingly saying the industry isn’t doing enough to eliminate unwanted advertising mail.

“Today we face an almost perfect storm of environmentalists, privacy advocates and other activist groups challenging our system of self-regulation,” he said.

According to Catalog Choice, the group will maintain free merchant accounts so marketers can have access to its list of opt outs on an unspecified regularly scheduled basis.

The group also said it will survey merchants’ business activities to promote “sustainable business practices in the catalog industry.”

According to a report in the New York Times, more than 20,000 people had registered on Catalog Choice as of last week.

Surprisingly, the Times reported, outdoor cataloger L.L. Bean was the target of most of the opt-out requests.

Catalog Choice was developed by three non-profits, National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Ecology Center.

It is supported with funding from The Overbrook Foundation, the Kendeda Fund and the Merck Family Fund.

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