DMA Inducts Florence, Franklin Into Hall of Fame

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The Direct Marketing Association inducted Direct Media founder/chairman Dave Florence and founding father Benjamin Franklin into its hall of fame yesterday. Florence and Franklin join 82 others in the hall.

John Temple, CEO/President of Guideposts and chairman of the DMA Hall of Fame committee, described Franklin as "a pioneer in direct marketing, sales and postal reform."

A video tribute to the inventor/statesman/scientist/printer noted that Franklin published the first catalog in America in 1744, which he used to sell scientific and academic books. His catalog came with what is thought to be the first mail-order guarantee.

"One can only imagine what Ben Franklin would say about the ease of online shopping," the tribute's narrator stated.

Franklin also served as postmaster general from 1753 to 1775. In addition to his DM credentials, Franklin is hailed as a father of the modern insurance industry for founding the first American fire insurance company and advocating other forms of insurance.

In Florence, the DMA honored a figure more closely aligned with the modern history of direct marketing. With nearly five decades of experience, beginning with a sales job at IBM in 1955, Florence established himself as a leader in the list industry during nine years at National Business Lists Inc., which he left to found Greenwich, CT-based Direct Media in 1969.

In brief remarks to a luncheon held to honor him and Franklin, Florence credited colleagues in the industry.

"You don't learn direct marketing through osmosis," he said. "I've learned from my friends and clients."

Kathy DeLuca, executive director of membership of the Friends of Franklin, spoke for the former ambassador to France, who died 224 years ago. She called Franklin a "consummate salesman," whether his product was personal liberty or his almanac.

"Franklin felt that if it was easy to find, it would be easy to buy," she said.

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