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A reporter's-eye view of the Direct Marketing Association's fall conference, held in San Francisco last week.

Talk about heavy copy: Complaining about the burdens of Food & Drug Administration regulations on pharmaceutical advertising, Doris Langerman, art director at Roska Direct Marketing, North Wales, Pa., summed up the dilemma nicely: "If you want to name the company and the drug and say how good it is ... you also have to say, `Oh, by the way, it might kill you."'

Jammin' with the CKS: Mark Kvamme, president-CEO CKS Partners, Cupertino, Calif., had a tough time proving a point in a presentation on "Blood, Sweat & Pixels: How to Do Great Creative in a Digital World." He urged attendees not to be fearful of testing new technology, whereupon his laptop-driven presentation promptly jammed, displaying the icon, "You have mail."

It's the "j" word: Anita Roddick, founder and CEO of the Body Shop, coyly drew a cheer with her revelation that "I inwardly tremble when I hear the word junk mail, because I don't think our catalog is junk mail. Sure there's junk mail. And there's junk TV advertising, and junk radio ads and junk magazine ads. Nobody ever complains about that!" Ms. Roddick also drew the most enthusiastic reception of the gathering, a standing ovation, for an uncharacteristically salty (for this crowd) speech.

Timing is everything: Ogilvy & Mather Direct's Pam Larrick was scheduled to speak at a breakfast seminar titled "Re-engineering the Direct Marketing Agency." But she got re-engineered out of her job as senior VP-managing director in New York just five days earlier. Ever the trouper, she went on anyway, good-naturedly explaining her plight to the audience.

But first, she warned old boss Rod Wright he'd "better be nice" to her to avoid some cutting remarks at the session. The CEO played it safe, taking the red-eye home the night before.

Creative ain't us: One topic surely on each year's agenda is the discussion among package-goods marketers about their trouble in persuading colleagues that DM pays off. The conventional wisdom goes something like, "If it isn't TV advertising, trade promotion or couponing, why would you want to bother?" Said Victor Grund, manager of database marketing at Kraft General Foods, "I don't think anybody ever paid a product manager to be innovative and creative."

Dallas, here we come: The growing industry, no doubt aided by the sunny San Francisco locale, helped the DMA lure a record crowd of nearly 12,000 to its five-day conference. But many were already heard to grumble about next year's choice of Dallas-a repeat of 1992-suggesting the attendance record may hold steady for a while.

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