*Germans Agree to Join IFDMA

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WIESBADEN, GERMANY--DDV, the German DMA, has agreed to join the International Federation of Direct Marketing Associations after two years of strenuously opposing the global grouping, it was announced here today.

IFDMA was founded at the New Orleans DMA meeting in 1996 and now has 29 members. The Germans refused to join because managing director Hasso Herbst and his board thought the group lacked clear direction and financial transparency.

The Germans changed their minds at a DDV board meeting held here Sunday, just before the annual German DMA show, DIMA, and was attended by H. Robert Wientzen, president/CEO of the United States' DMA.

"The final decision will be taken at the DDV board meeting on Jan. 21," said Herbst, who will leave office April 16. "I expect the board to approve our membership."

Herbst explained the shift in the position that Germany had hidden behind the United States for too long on major global issues from UN peacekeeping operations to NATO's commitment in Bosnia.

"It is time we did our part," he said, "and paid our bill."

Herbst also cited one other factor: Originally, IFDMA was to meet three times a year -- once at the annual U.S. DMA conference, at the Federation of European Direct Marketing forum in April and at a summer DMA meeting in Singapore. The Germans had argued that the Asian meeting was a boondoggle and that "we have no interests in Singapore. He said the United States had agreed to hold only two IFDMA meetings a year, one in the United States and one in Europe.

In addition to joining IFDMA, the Germans also agreed to establish an IFDMA secretariat in DMA's New York headquarters. The cost is estimated at $100,000 a year. With the United States ready to pay half and the other half to be covered by other IFDMA members, Germany will now pay an appropriate share of those costs.

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