Kimmel pumps up marketers, makes call to embrace change

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San Francisco—The Direct Marketing Association's new CEO, Larry Kimmel, gave a halftime-like keynote address to attendees at the association's annual conference and exhibition, taking place here through Wednesday. He encouraged marketers to embrace change and to promote the advantages of direct marketing.

"We always knew that customer insights coupled with quantifiable results would yield half your customers and greater success," Kimmel said. "And we were right."

But Kimmel, in office just nine weeks, added, "We are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of a new generation."

He cited two trouble spots: new marketers who, he said, perceive direct marketing as channel-dependent, or as primarily a direct-mail endeavor; and Internet users in general who see behaviorally targeted advertising as a dangerous intrusion of privacy.

"We're the ones trying to change the concept of behavioral targeting," he said, referring to the marketing community. "Somehow consumers think you're doing something evil, but the truth is all we're trying to do is get personalized messages to buyers."

Kimmel, a longtime advertising executive who, until 2008, was chairman-CEO of agency G2 Direct & Digital, said the challenge of marketers is to self-regulate their online behavioral ad practices, work with regulators, and "make sure the world economy of ours continues to grow."

Kimmel's pep rally-like presentation was in contrast to previous keynotes by former DMA CEO John A. Greco, who typically focused on the association's legislative challenges and actions. But Kimmel did find time to cite the DMA's role in convincing regulators last month to reject a request by the U.S. Postal Service for a postal rate increase.

Kimmel's presentation was streamed live on DMA's new website,, which debuted at the show. Kimmel said the new site eventually will offer customizable experiences for users. All DMA2010 sessions will be available on the new site, he said.

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