At DMCNY’s Silver Apples, Wientzen Calls for Better Policing

NEW YORK — Former Direct Marketing Association president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen got marketers' attention early on at Friday's 20th Annual Silver Apple Awards, presented by the Direct Marketing Club of New York.

He outlined a few principles that marketers need to follow: trust, listen to and respect the consumer; the long-term view is generally the better one; and what he called the “60 Minutes” test.

“Is what you're doing something you would be happy to explain to Dan Rather or to one of the '60 Minutes' reporters?” asked Wientzen, who retired as CEO in August but still consults for the organization. “Would you be happy to explain your last promotion or your last business deal?”

More than 250 people attended the luncheon. Along with Wientzen, other DMers honored this year for 25 years of service to the New York direct marketing community:

· Kathy Duggan-Josephs, president of D-J Associates.

· Jonah Gitlitz, former president/CEO of the DMA.

· Linda Huntoon, executive vice president at Direct Media Inc.

· Penny Vane, founder of Vane & Friends.

· Alan Zamchick, list director at Hachette Filipacchi.

· Corporate recipient The Horah Group.

In his acceptance speech, Wientzen also discussed his tenure leading the DMA.

“If anything, I would've pushed even harder in the ethics area,” he said. “I'm sorry to say that I suspect I would have made the DMA more of a cop. I think oftentimes of the quote that essentially says, sometimes the unethical are passionate while the principled remain silent. We have an industry where the few, and I think it's very few, continue to hurt the many.”

Wientzen then offered a twist on the 80/20 rule, stating that at least 80 percent of those in the industry are honest vs. the 20 percent or less who routinely depend on deception, taking advantage of the less intelligent, the elderly, the greedy and the disadvantaged.

“They're clever to avoid the legal requirements of the new technology laws,” he said. “This minority continue[s] to punish the vast majority in our industry who understand that it is more profitable in the long run to respect and to protect the consumer.”

After asking, “What can we do?” he quoted the famous line from the movie “Network” — “I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore.”

Wientzen also urged attendees to take a stand and “challenge that very small minority. Tell their suppliers what they're doing. Tell the DMA. Even tell the appropriate authorities if you [are] motivated.”

Duggan-Josephs, who began her DM career at Doubleday Book Clubs and founded D-J Associates in 1981, talked about the early '80s when “it cost less than $1,000 to set up a list business.” She challenged those in the audience to “mentor just one person” because “it will make us all stronger and more successful.”

Huntoon acknowledged in the middle of her speech that “I'm missing a page, and it's not a good page to be missing.” Then she immediately transitioned to an emotional acknowledgment of “my partner, my alter ego and friend — Chatty Teirstein. Chatty's worked with me for 20 years. She helped me raise my kids. When I was on the road she signed their papers. She is dedicated. She is organized. She is capable. Without her, I would have no career and I would be lost.”

Teirstein is a senior account executive at Direct Media.

Richard Goldsmith, chairman of The Horah Group, joked that he clinched the corporate award by providing the beer at the organization's golf outing this year.

Vane, daughter of previous Silver Apple Award winner Peter Vane, mentioned passion and said “if you don't love what you're doing … get out. But if you do, this club and this industry needs you.”

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