DMA names former Grey Direct chief Kimmel CEO

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Larry Kimmel
Larry Kimmel

The Direct Marketing Association named Lawrence Kimmel its next CEO, effective August 2, after a six-month-long search. The former chairman and CEO of Grey Direct Global Network will replace Robert Allen, who has led the industry group on an interim basis since February.

The DMA said Kimmel was “the overwhelming choice of the DMA's board of directors.” Kimmel, whose contract runs for three years, said his goal is for the group to serve as a “beacon of light” promoting digital and direct marketing practices. He will be based in New York.

“I have been in direct marketing for a long time, and I've believed for a long time that behavioral insights, coupled with quantifiable and measurable information, was a better go-to market strategy [than push marketing],” he said. “We were right and won that argument, and today, basically all of marketing is direct or wants to go direct.”

Kimmel was the chairman and CEO of Grey Direct Global Network from 2000 to 2008, and previously served as an EVP at Draft Worldwide. He was also the founder and president of Unimark, a direct marketing, promotion and ad agency.

When asked if the DMA, or direct marketing in general, should consider an updated name change, he responded that it is “a critical question” and “something that should be explored.”

“There is no doubt that there are a lot of people who are doing some of the best and most progressive direct marketing who don't define themselves as direct marketers,” he said.

Kimmel added that his experience working with clients will aid him in collaborating with the DMA's members.

“I want to make sure that our value proposition is enhanced, and that they are happy,” he said.  

The DMA had named Allen interim president and immediately formed a search committee to find a full-time CEO after John Greco resigned in February. Allen will serve as a consultant to the DMA.

Ramesh Lakshmi-Ratan, former EVP and COO of the DMA, left the organization last September to lead a division at Pitney Bowes.

Last fall, the DMA also filed a cease-and-desist letter against board member Gerry Pike, who had launched a website – ABetterDMA.org – questioning the group's governance. Pike eventually retained his spot on the DMA's board.

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