John Daly, the man behind opting out, passes away at 80

Every year Beloit College lists a group of analogies and cultural references to mark the differences between generations. One that should have been included in the list this year is that, as long as this group of students can remember, they've always been able to opt out of receiving marketing messages.

The ability to opt out of marketing messages may seem like an idea that has always been around but we owe one man, John Daly, for giving consumers control of how retailers contact them.

Sadly Daly, who served in the Korean War and worked as a photographer for the Washington Post, passed away on Aug. 27 due to a blood infection and heart disease. He was 80.

During his term as a senior vice president of the Direct Marketing Association in the 1970s Daly, in an effort to give power to the consumers and avoid governmental legislation, developed the first full scale opt out solution for mailing lists. The system, called the Mail Preference System, required great diligence in gaining the support of direct marketers and the government but eventually succeeded thanks in part to the support of Daly.

The Mail Preference System, which survives today as DMA Choice, provides consumers with the ability to opt out of direct mail and e-mail from members of the Direct Marketing Association as well as define their preferences in regards to what kind of mail they want to get.

DMA Choice also provides consumers with the ability to quickly opt out deceased individuals or individuals who need care in the form of the Deceased Do Not Contact List and the Do Not Contact for Caregivers List.

Daly's work in establishing the Mail Preference System has led to the evolution of many consumer-centric ideas and practices.

National Opt Out Lists which owe their existence to the first opt-out list created by Daly include: There's no doubt that even the most recent ban on robo-calls owes a portion of its success to the idea that consumers have the right to control how they are contacted by marketers that Daly championed during his life.

Our thoughts and our thanks go out to Daly and his family for the considerable affect his life's work has had on our mailboxes, our inboxes and our dinnertime conversations.

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