There's a palpably upbeat energy at this year's Direct Marketing Association Conference and Exhibition. The breakout concurrent sessions – in small rooms, admittedly – are very well attended. The hallways are packed. The exhibit hall floor –
Well, exhibitors will always complain, even if the aisles look like leftover footage from a Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza. But the crowds on the floor are thicker than they have been in years past, even if what's bringing them out is the lure of drink tickets and chances to win a variety of raffles.
While a few vendors are offering vacation packages, the iPad 2 is the premium of choice among several exhibitors. At booth 206, United Envelope offers its raffle winner a choice of the ubiquitous iPad 2 or a dream date with a salesperson. VP of sales and marketing John R. Sorrentino admits he's hoping the winner goes for the iPad.
Easypurl.com is offering its first 50 new customers an iPad 2 (booth #414). Drifting around the booth is a woman in a Daryl Hannah/clamshell hybrid costume which features, yes, a pearl. Discretion (and the threat of a black eye) preclude speculation on the "easy" part of the costume.
Booth lass on the half shell isn't the only notable visible in the aisles. DMA CEO Larry Kimmel may not be wearing the sash of office, which would make him readily identifiable to attendees, but he's been a regular presence in the exhibit hall. Several conference-goers have had spontaneous conversations with him. The unscripted accessibility is a nice change from previous administrations.
The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center itself is one of the better designed conference centers the DMA has retained to host its conferences. Most of the educational activities take place on one floor – one largely non-labyrinthian floor. The escalator to the exhibit hall is centrally located, and the space, while large, does not have the cacophonous, audience-antagonizing industrial feel of the Javits Center in New York City.
There may not be new sheriffs in town, but there is a new slate of members elected to the board, as well as new officers. There are two items of note regarding the new top. One: This past Sunday marked the first time in memory that featured a contested election for chairman of the board. Two: The winner, Return Path CEO and chairman Matt Blumberg, initially joined the board in part due to reform actions taken two years ago by former board member Gerry Pike.
Pike himself, who had collected proxy votes from members in an effort to air his concerns about compensation issues, was not in attendance at the Sunday business or board meetings. Pike was barred from both the meetings and from the conference itself. In a letter to members, the DMA Board Executive Committee had previously stated Pike's lack of membership status precluded his participation.
Joining Blumberg as DMA board officers are Rick Erwin, president of Experian Marketing Services data division, who will serve as vice chair; Guther|Renker executive VP of marketing Glenn S. Eisen was elected treasurer; and Leslie Abi-Karam, executive VP and president of mailing solutions management at Pitney Bowes has been elected secretary.
In addition to the new executive team, seven new members were approved to join the Board at DMA’s Annual Business Meeting. The new board members are: Victor Benson, CEO of Holsted Marketing, Inc.; Buell Duncan, VP of marketing for IBM Software Group; JoAnne Dunn, president and CEO of Alliant; Yvette Lui, director of global marketing Solutions at Facebook; Pamela McHugh, president of Mintel Comperemedia; Tim Suther, CMO at Acxiom, and Joe Zawadski, CEO Media Math.
The incoming DMA board members join the following current members: Bruce Biegel, managing director at Winterberry Group; Arjan Dijk, director of global acquisition marketing for Google; Moses Foster, president and CEO at the West Cary Group; Susan Loth, CMO at Disabled American Veterans; Don McKenzie, president and CEO for Sourcelink; Gian-Carlo Peressutti, SVP of public affairs at RR Donnelley; Kelly B. Browning, EVP and COO at the American Institute for Cancer Research; Christopher W. Bradley, president and CEO at Cuddledown; G. Steven Dapper, chairman of Hawkeye; Ken A. Dawson, CMO at InfoCision Management; Brian Fetherstonhaugh, chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide; Deborah I. Fine, president and CEO of Direct Brands; Edwin P. Garrubbo, CEO of Creative Commerce; Clare Hart, president and CEO of Infogroup; Bryan Kennedy, president and CEO at Epsilon;
Lawrence M. Kimmel, CEO of the Direct Marketing Association; Gary S. Laben, CEO at KBM Group; Suresh Mathai, CEO of ContinuumGlobal; John Papalia, president and CEO at Statlistics; Charles Prescott, principal of the Prescott Report; Joel Quadracci, chairman and CEO of Quad/Graphics; Donn Rappaport, chairman of American List Counsel; Arun Sinha, senior faculty fellow at the Yale School of Management; Gary Skidmore, president and corporate officer at Harte-Hanks, Inc.; Beth Smith, president of Smith Browning Direct; Nicholas P. Staheyeff, VP and CFO, international of eBay International AG; and Dawn Zier, president, international, at Reader’s Digest Association.