DM pioneer Florence Leighton retires

Florence Leighton, who has worked in direct marketing for over 50 years, has retired from Direct Media Inc. The octogenarian said the main reason for her retirement was, “business is quiet and it seemed to be a good time.”

Leighton held an executive position in the international list services division of Direct Media and is well known for her efforts to grow overseas efforts for American marketers.

She said that many US companies are still underutilizing cross-border direct marketing. “They’re inundated with misinformation,” she said. “They think it costs a fortune. It’s not cheap, it’s true, but they don’t take the chance to expand and they just don’t have the people or the brains.”

Her retirement comes just days after Direct Media was acquired by InfoUSA. Leighton says it’s a good fit. “[Direct Media] needed something like that to break it out of the place they’ve been for so long and give them new goals to achieve,” she said.

In 1958, Leighton helped found Dillon, Agnew & Marton, the first international direct marketing agency in the US. “[Multinational DM] hadn’t been developed so it was easy,” she said, “I didn’t have any fears.”

Leighton was a founding member of the Direct Marketing International Council and the Women’s Direct Response group. She was also an original member of the Federation of European Direct Marketing (FEDMA). Leighton joined Direct Media in 1993.

Leighton spent nearly a decade in Amsterdam working as the European sales and marketing director for Dillon, Agnew & Marton. She moved back to the US in 1967 and over the next 40 years helped develop global marketing programs for many multinational companies. In 2006 Leighton received the DMA International Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Leighton doesn’t have concrete plans for her retirement but expects to spend time with her hobbies antiquing and reading.

When asked what advice she would give to someone entering the DM world, she said, “Don’t be afraid to do things. Just do it. Keep looking around and try to learn new things constantly.”

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