DMW Will Stick to Traditional DM After Buyout

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One thing is for sure: DMW will not chase Internet-based clients in 2002.

That is the message from Warren Hunter, who with executive vice president and chief financial officer Josie B. Clippinger and five other agency colleagues closed a deal Dec. 28 to take control of DMW. Terms of the buyout were not disclosed.

"We're not going to pursue dot-coms as a primary source of growth for the agency," Hunter said after adding the CEO title to his job as president.

This year, the agency will urge clients to go back to basics. The focus, Hunter said, should be on methods to make money in a measurable way.

"The last couple of years have seen so much focus on the Internet that many companies have strayed away from the nuts and bolts of direct response," he said. "And while it's our objective to use the Internet as part of the successful media mix, we don't intend to allow ourselves or our clients to be distracted from their basic sales and marketing objectives.

"We're going to steer the agency in the direction of providing very focused direct marketing and direct response advertising in the areas we've built successful track records in -- insurance, finance and fundraising. We're now able to focus on the best interests of our clients and associates without being encumbered by strategies that weren't relevant to DMW."

DMW claims capitalized billings of $76 million for 2001. The Wayne, PA, shop gets most of its business from the various BlueCross BlueShield plans nationwide and more than 50 public television stations. Other clients include CSFBdirect, Sungard Recovery Services, American Humane Association and Upland Mortgage.

Under DIMAC ownership since 1995, DMW succumbed to the charms of Internet clients a few years ago.

"I think it was distracting from a business development point of view as well as from an internal resource allocation [standpoint]," Hunter said.

In April 2000, DIMAC filed under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. When it restructured in February 2001, it emerged with only four out of nine companies in its portfolio.

The survivors were DMW; DIMAC Direct, a direct mail production firm in St. Louis; Palm Coast Data, a subscription fulfillment firm in Palm Coast, FL; and MBS, a Central Islip, NY, data building and warehousing company.

DIMAC Direct was liquidated in August. DIMAC is looking to sell Palm Coast Data and MBS.

Had DMW's senior management not bought out the agency, it would have been sold to outside parties, Hunter said.

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