John A. Greco Jr. Says Direct Marketers Need Image Upgrade

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NEW YORK ( -- The Direct Marketing Association, which has faced consumer backlash regarding some of its members' marketing practices, has named a new president-CEO.

The DMA appointed John A. Greco Jr., a career marketing and technology professional, to replace H. Robert Wientzen, who steps down Aug. 16 after eight years.

Consumer disdain
Mr. Greco takes over the 4,700-member association at a time when the diret-marketing industry has been increasingly buffeted by legislation and public criticism in recent years. Consumer disdain for DMA strongholds, such as telemarketing, is most evident in the creation of the national Do Not Call Registry, for which 62 million consumers have signed up to block calls by telemarketers.

But Mr. Greco will also have to deal with ongoing complaints about unsolicited e-mail, or spam, in spite of the Can-Spam law; the threat of a federal law to stop marketers from loading intrusive software such as spyware onto consumers' PCs; and congressional attempts to raise postage prices (affecting bulk mail rates) and to impose a tax on purchases made over the Internet.

'Playing a positive role'
Because of these issues, Mr. Greco said his most important task will be to upgrade the image of the direct marketing industry, and "do more to let the consumers know we are playing a very positive role," he said. He added that he plans to split his time between the DMA's headquarters in New York and Washington, where he will focus on policy and legislative matters.

It won't be an easy job, said Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president of mailing list company Worldata, a DMA member agency. "The second you mention e-mail or telemarketing, no matter what you do, you do something wrong in the public eye," he said. "That makes the role of the association difficult."

Mr. Greco's professional background includes a stint as president-CEO of another industry marketing group, the Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association; five years as director of AT&T's Consumer Laboratory Center of Excellence investigating new technology; and as a marketing executive at printer R.R. Donnelley & Sons.

"Those three different roles make him representative of all the current members of the DMA," Mr. Schwedelson said.

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