SAN FRANCISCO — A “60 Minutes II” crew videotaped companies' booths at the Direct Marketing Association's 85th Annual Conference & Exhibition yesterday as many exhibitors welcomed them.
DMA spokesman Louis Mastria escorted two cameramen and an independent producer around the exhibit hall for several hours, stopping at several booths including Instant Web Companies, Aspen Marketing Services, infoUSA, Direct Media, Firstlogic, Pulse, EDS and The Horah Group. In many cases, Mastria told exhibitors that they were shooting background footage for a story on financial privacy.
The piece apparently will focus on a proposed California financial privacy bill introduced by state Sen. Jackie Speier. The bill would mandate opt-in consent for the sharing of financial data. Though it was defeated in the state Assembly in September, Speier vowed to reintroduce it next year.
“They explained who they were and asked about our services, and I told them,” said Sam Fellows of Firstlogic. “I had no problem talking to them.”
William J. Lay, senior vice president at Pulse, San Francisco, added, “Any press is good press.”
Brian Wagner, director of business development at Horah, agreed.
“Hey, we're excited they stopped by,” he said. “We got to tell them about our new program, Word of Mail.”
Others were more guarded in their comments.
“I told them they could stop and take 'B' footage, but I would not let them into my booth,” EDS spokeswoman Mary Law said.
Not everyone on the floor was aware of what was going on.
“I didn't know the cameramen were from '60 Minutes II,' ” said Al Ambrosino, president/CEO of Donnelley Marketing, a division of infoUSA. “However, by all means, they can film us. We are not concerned. We are a legitimate business. We are even pleased that they stopped by.”
Aspen president/CEO Patrick O'Rahilly said the privacy issue plays to the fears of consumers and mainstream media who don't understand direct marketing.
“Your average pizza parlor has more information about their customers than most direct marketers do — address, phone number, names, credit card information, favorite pizza toppings — and when you order a pizza, you reap the benefits of that,” he said.
“60 Minutes” returned to this year's show after conducting interviews at the 1999 conference in Toronto. Correspondent Leslie Stahl narrated the 1999 piece, which focused on privacy and online issues.