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Ken Magill

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Dear DMA: You're Killin' Me

By Ken Magill


Man oh man. What’s the marketing world coming to?

The Direct Marketing Association earlier this summer announced it had hired Larry Kimmel as its new CEO. He started August 2.

What the hell are these people thinking? I mean, Kimmel has actual direct-marketing experience. Couldn’t they find a washed up GM brander?

How am I going to take shots at the DMA now?

Most recently, Kimmel was CEO of direct marketing agency Grey Direct Global Network, a position he held from 2000 to 2008. This, by definition, means Kimmel has led an ad agency’s successful transition into digital marketing, something the DMA has yet to do.


Now, when I publish the DMA CEO’s salary and perks, I’ll be obligated to point out that Kimmel could make—and probably has made—oh, like a basquillion dollars in the rough-and-tumble advertising industry and that he could probably easily make more money than he does now. There goes that juicy little yearly piece of outrage-inducing industry gossip.

Not only that, I’ve met Kimmel on numerous occasions—I think I even had dinner with him once, but may be misremembering—and found him to be bright and likeable.

So I say again: Shit.

Wait a minute. I have an idea.

OK, Larry—can I call you Larry?—here’s the deal: Just because you’re mega-qualified and a seemingly genuinely likeable guy doesn’t mean the symbiotic relationship between me and the DMA has to end.

Alright, so it isn’t really a symbiotic relationship. It’s kind of a relationship of me whipping up controversy with you guys as the whippee. But still, it’s been a fun ride—for me, at least—and there’s no reason it has to end.

All you have to do to keep your end of this deal, Larry, is maintain DMA status quo.

First, make sure it maintains its reputation as an organization that views its members not as a constituency to be served, but as a bunch of revenue streams to be milked.

Hey, it’s a reputation the DMA has had for years. You wouldn’t want to break with such a venerable tradition, would you?

And don’t forget to reiterate in a public forum the DMA’s long-held contention that spam is only fraudulent e-mail. Whatever you do, don’t let a nit-picky little detail like the universally accepted definition of spam get in your way.

Oh and while you’re at it, be sure and acquire a few interactive marketing associations in a lame attempt to be hip and slowly strangle the upstart little bastards to death. Remember the Association for Interactive marketers? The DMA acquired that trade group—which actually had some online marketing chops—in 1998 and suffocated it for five years until it died in 2003.

That little fiasco was good for virtual barrels of column ink. It was the proverbial fatal car wreck. We couldn’t not look.

Lastly, make sure you lay a bunch of people off, but keep getting whopping raises.

See? It’s really an elegantly simple plan when you think about it. All you have to do is let DMA inertia work its usual magic.

So what do you say, Larry? Do we have a deal? I sure hope so. Otherwise, I may have to sober up and do some actual work.

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