TORONTO–A film crew from CBS’ “60 Minutes” walked around the exhibit floor at the Direct Marketing Association’s fall conference here yesterday as they taped footage for a segment on privacy. Though vendors let them film shots of their booths, many refused to talk on camera.
DMA spokesman Steven Altobelli accompanied the crew through the hall, and the
footage shot was largely background footage for the piece — long shots of booths and crowds of people walking about the hall.
Producer Rome Hartman and associate producer Elizabeth Weinreb showed their displeasure at being the center of a news story themselves, refusing to talk about the story they’re working on. Weinreb asked a DM News photographer not to take pictures because the camera’s flash was interfering with their filming. When asked if they would arrange for something afterward, Wenreb answered, “No,” and walked away.
Neither seemed to grasp the nuances of direct marketing and how companies gather and use consumer information. The two met with one vendor for an off-the-record conversation that lasted an hour to get a better understanding of the industry. Exhibitors visited by the “60 Minutes” crew included many of the large data warehousers — infoUSA, Acxiom Corp., KnowledgeBase Marketing and Experian — but most of those companies had already refused to be interviewed at the show. Acxiom spokesman Dale Ingram said his company didn’t agree to an interview request but sent a letter outlining what it does and how its services are used in direct marketing. Experian and infoUSA officials also refused to be interviewed for the segment.
Exhibitors already were coached on what to say with a fax the DMA had sent out late last week explaining that “60 Minutes” would be on hand and pointers on what to say if approached by a news crew.
Mike Hail, CEO of KnowledgeBase, Houston, said the “60 Minutes” producers asked him about KnowledgeBase’s products but were most interested in online privacy and whether Web-based products would allow more people access to more information. Hail said he told them that the products help companies internally share information and that just because the information is online, it does not make it more accessible to the general public. He also told the producers that all of the data his company works with is opt-in and accessible only through secure passwords.
“They spent a lot of time just asking questions about the industry and how it really works,” he said.
Jack H. Lee, vice president of marketing at Donnelley Marketing, Stamford, CT, said he was approached by “60 Minutes” and was willing to show them his company’s products, but they never returned.
Richard Hochhauser, president/CEO of Harte-Hanks Direct Marketing, New York, briefed his staff members to make sure they were cautious when speaking about the company's products — or privacy in general — should they be approached.
Hartman and Weinreb would not say when the “60 Minutes” piece will air.