The Chicago Association of Direct Marketing starts celebrations marking its 50th year of existence during its Chicago DM Days & Expo this week.
The event, also in its 50th year, is the first in a series of golden jubilee events leading to the 2005 annual meeting. Held at the Navy Pier, about 1,800 attendees and more than 80 exhibitors are expected.
“The anniversary tagline and calendar are yet to be determined, but we know we will not only be showcasing the association, but also Chicago's contributions to direct marketing over 50 years and more,” said Holly Harle, anniversary co-chair, last year's CADM president and account executive at Mid-America Mailers Inc.
A birthday bash is planned for the evening of April 21, just prior to the Tempo Awards ceremony at the end of the conference's first day. The same evening the association has organized a 50-year retrospective to highlight CADM and Chicago business. Memorabilia in a booth will support that audiovisual presentation.
“Without the continuing leadership of the direct response industry in Chicago, there would be no association,” said Kelly Abeles, CADM president and communications director for the American Bar Endowment.
“Not only was Chicago home for pioneers such as Montgomery Ward and Sears, the city and its suburbs continue to be an environment for marketing results and creative achievement.”
Anniversary organizers are hopeful that DM practitioner and author Bob Stone, co-founder of CADM and its second president, will participate in the celebrations. They also look to involve Bob Enlow, another CADM co-founder and its third president.
As for exhibitors who stuck with CADM over the annual show's life, mergers, consolidations and closures have laid many to rest. One exhibitor, Moore Response Marketing, is thought to go back to 1954 in some corporate iteration or another.
This year's show contains sessions on privacy, database, interactive, production, customer relationship management, direct response television and Hispanic marketing. Postmaster general John E. Potter will give the April 21 keynote address.
Like events across industries, the annual show is a reliable gauge of the market's mood.
“The DM industry, as most others, has been hit with economic problems,” Abeles said. “We're optimistic that as the economy improves, some of those challenges will be overcome. Chicago has a strong and thriving DM community, and I don't see a shift from Chicago to another area.”