Methinks the DMA Has Lost ItI have no qualms with one-half of this year's inductees into the Direct Marketing Association's Hall of Fame. Direct Media's Dave Florence is a fine choice. An involved member of the industry for nearly 50 years, Dave has always been willing to speak out when needed. Let's focus on the other inductee, Benjamin Franklin. Yes, that Ben Franklin. Isn't it odd that the DMA is just getting around to honoring someone so deserving as Ben, purveyor of snappy quotations, creator of the first catalog in the United States and our first postmaster general? Surely Mr. Franklin, Johann Gutenberg, Alexander Graham Bell and the guy who invented the television had already received this accolade years ago.
But I mean, really, how can you honor Franklin and not Gutenberg? Without movable type, Franklin would have had to hand-write each one of his catalogs and then head to Ye Olde Kinkos to photocopy them. The DMA says its 13-person judging committee (made up of CEOs, presidents and vice chairs) makes its selections based on an "annual call for nominations to DMA member companies and the industry at large." Somehow, I don't think there was that big of a write-in vote for Ben, though I'm sure he would have loved going to New Orleans to accept his award. After all, he was known as quite the party boy around Philadelphia back in the day.
Perhaps outgoing president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen summed it up best in the release naming this year's recipients: "The significant contributions made by both of these leaders continue to propel the industry forward. Induction into the DMA Hall of Fame is our industry's highest professional honor. The DMA is pleased to pay these industry luminaries this important tribute." Um, does Bob even know who he's honoring or is he too busy packing? I hope he doesn't give Ben's acceptance speech.
Only 84 people have been named to the Hall of Fame since its creation in 1978, and this is the first time they've dug back to the 18th century for an inductee. Have they already run out of real direct marketers? If the DMA wants to honor an icon like Franklin, name an award after him. (Note, the Publishers Marketing Association already has the Ben Franklin Awards.) But if this is the point that the industry is at, we're in sorry shape, and the DMA needs to cancel the Hall of Fame annual ceremony until it can come up with people who mean something.
Have a few worthy candidates in mind? E-mail me at email@example.com and I'll pass them on.