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DMA chief focuses on economic resilience

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Chicago--H. Robert Wientzen, president-CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, emphasized the resilience and determination of the American spirit in his keynote address on Monday morning at the association's 84th Annual Conference & Exhibition at Chicago's McCormick Place.

"For American business-including the direct and interactive marketing industry-not proceeding with the business at hand, even in the face of such devastation and sadness, would be contrary to the very spirit of the country," said Wientzen, who wore a necktie with an American flag pattern.

Wientzen called the state of the direct marketing industry "a mixed bag" in light of the current economic downturn. According to recent DMA research, he said, the industry's ad spending projections for this year were revised downward one percentage point, which is more than $2 billion. Also, the DMA's year 2001 sales projections for the direct marketing industry are down 2.4% compared with what they were before the attacks of Sept. 11-a loss of about $42 billion in revenue.

Despite the slowdown, the industry continues to grow, Wientzen said, attributing the growth to the Web. This year, U.S. direct and interactive marketers are projected to generate nearly $1.9 trillion in sales, almost a 9% increase over last year's sales. Over the next five years, industry sales are predicted to compound 8.3% annually, hitting $2.7 trillion in the year 2006. Wientzen also addressed the issue of postal reform during his speech, saying that the U. S. Postal Service was a major area of concern for the direct marketing industry.

"Our Postal Service already had major economic problems, and now has even more severe challenges in light of recent terrorist attacks," Wientzen said. "We must reform [its] laws because, as the chairman of the USPS' Board of Governors recently said, trying to manage the post office with 31-year-old laws is like trying to listen to a CD on an 8-track player."

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