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Direct Marketing Materials: Introduction

Guide to materials related to direct marketing in the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History, Duke University

Domino's Pizza Mailer


Guide to Direct Marketing Materials

 John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History


Direct marketing is an advertising and marketing strategy distinguished by at least one, and sometime both, of two characteristics. First, direct marketing targets likely consumers with ads relevant to their interests based on demographic and individualized consumer data. Second, direct marketing prompts the consumer to a specific action (to send in a form or call a telephone number) rather than simply seeking to increase brand awareness. This "call to action" distinguishes direct marketing from general advertising. Forms of direct marketing include: catalog and mail order, product advertising direct mail, political direct mail, direct response cards, coupons, infomercials, telemarketing, and e-mail marketing.

The Hartman Center and the Rubenstein Library hold many materials related to the development, implementation, and evaluation of direct marketing. The following is an overview of these collections, which include books and serial publications, catalog and infomercial collections, and the archival papers of advertising agencies, executives, and some advertisers. They include many examples of direct mailings, catalogs, and commercials, as well as evidence of how advertisers thought about, implemented, and evaluated direct marketing strategies.

When direct-marketing is the primary subject of a collection this overview provides an abstract of the collection and a link to the collection guide. For collections of which direct marketing materials are only a small part, this overview provides a more specific description of the relevant materials and their location, as well as a link to the collection guide. In some cases, a collection contains only one or two relevant documents. They have been included in this overview because, together, these documents provide the researcher with several writings, speeches, and essays on direct marketing, usually by individual advertising agency executives.