Marketers Hope for Best as Show Moves to Javits

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As DMD Marketing Conference New York opens today in its new location at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, marketers question the move but seem to be OK with it overall.


The decision to move was made in 2000 after attendance reached an all-time high and the conference appeared after 36 years to have outgrown the New York Hilton & Towers. That space was in the heart of midtown Manhattan but required exhibits to be spread over three levels. The new venue is drawing mixed reactions.


"I'm not thrilled about it because it takes you away from the thick of things, but I understand the move," said Fran Golub, senior vice president of list management at Walter Karl, Pearl River, NY, a division of Donnelley Marketing. "If you weren't on the first floor at the Hilton, you got killed. Nobody went up to the third floor."


This year, all the exhibitors and sessions will be on one floor. Exhibitors are expected to occupy 410 booth spaces on the exhibit hall floor, said Charles M. Cavanagh, president/CEO of DMD Marketing Conferences New York. As of late May, 268 companies had signed to exhibit compared with 300 last year.


A year ago, Cavanagh predicted that this year's exhibition would be up 25 percent. But when DMD booked Javits two years ago, no one could have predicted what would happen in the months leading up to the show.


"We didn't anticipate two things," he said. "One is that the economy is as bad as it is, and two being 9/11."


Another direct marketing professional said his company was reluctant to exhibit.


"We went back and forth on whether or not to exhibit, but we figured we'd give it a chance," said Ed Bocknik, executive vice president of list management services at Direct Media Inc., Greenwich, CT. "We're worried that there won't be as much traffic as there has been in the past."


One conference draw has been the source of some dissent. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani delivers the address at today's awards luncheon. Because exhibitors are not entitled to luncheon tickets, they must pay $95 if they want to hear Giuliani.


"We've had a number of exhibitors wanting to hear Giuliani without buying a lunch ticket," Cavanagh said. He said that exhibitors may be allowed to hear the speech if security will permit it, though he was not sure when that would be decided.


In addition, the exhibit hall will remain open during the luncheon, which also displeases some exhibitors.


"It's stupid not to close the exhibit hall," Golub said. "No one is going to be there. With Giuliani speaking, the place will be deserted."


Since her company didn't want to spring for the $95, Golub said she plans to stand outside the door and listen to the speech.


Cavanagh said the hall will be open to accommodate those who may not want to attend the luncheon.


Aside from Giuliani, keynote and luncheon speakers include postmaster general John Potter; John Costello, chief global marketing officer at Yahoo; Peter Sealey, former executive vice president of marketing of Coca-Cola; and Raymond O'Neal, urban marketing expert and former executive vice president of Vibe Ventures.


Shelly Lazarus, chairman/CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, receives the Marketer of the Year award at today's luncheon.


Looking ahead, Cavanagh predicted some glitches as with any new venture.


"We're feeling our way this year, there's no question about it," he said. "There is a learning curve, and I'm sure we'll do even better next year."


The DMD show is booked at Javits again for 2003.


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