John Jay Daly - Family Photo

John Jay Daly – Family Photo

LONDON – A PR man from Washington, John Jay Daly, who was credited as the inventor of the concept that consumers could opt out of direct mail, has died of heart disease at the age of 80.

The US Congress was considering legislation in 1970 that would have restricted direct mail by requiring companies to get an explicit opt-in for each household.

Daly, who was then the deputy chairman of the US Direct Marketing Association, came up with a plan that would allow companies to continue to send direct mailings to consumers and allow them the choice of opting out of direct mailings by sending a postcard to a central address and have their names removed from mailing lists.

His idea was later used when establishing the national ‘do-not call’ lists and when applying the ‘unsubscribe’ option for email lists.

According to his obituary in the Washington Post, some of his contemporaries were concerned that the policy would kill the direct-mail industry, but they actually discovered that many people really wanted to receive direct mail advertisements. The result was that marketers could focus their campaigns on people who were actually interested in their products and could avoid wasting postage and printing on people who did not want to be on a mailing list.

Daly made a living representing clients before Congress and referred to himself as  a “postalologist” because of his thorough knowledge of postal regulations and postal commissions.

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