DUESSELDORF, Germany — Tensions with the U.S. DMA and European associations bubbled below the surface of this year's DIMA, the annual German direct marketing show held here for the first time.
“I didn't know Charley was bringing so many people,” one European groused, speaking of DMA international vice president Charles Prescott, who had put together a team of people for a workshop on e-commerce, customer relationship management and other issues.
The Europeans have cast a cold eye on what they perceive as U.S. efforts to, as one of them put it, “conquer the world,” specifically taking over turf the Europeans think is their own. The discord has always been papered over in public with the DMA claiming it is only trying to bring some of its seminars and other products onto the European market.
The Europeans, however, don't see it that way.
“Nobody really wants to see them doing those things here,” one of the DIMA organizers said. “I know the French and the British DMA don't like it, and the Germans don't either.”
Reports, as yet unconfirmed that the DMA planned to buy the Brazilian database marketing association, one of three in that country, did not help matters.
The British in particular talked of grabbing the International Federation of Direct Marketing Associations away from what they perceive as U.S. control and turning it into a broader and more independent vehicle.
Prescott was unperturbed, dismissing the reports of friction as something he hadn't noticed here. The U.S. DMA again had a booth at this year’s show looking for new members and for a chance to put out the word about its activities.
The workshop brought together Sheila Donovan, vice president of new business development at Global Z, David Dancer of Partner Development, Geoff Cotton, managing director of UK-based GCP, and Liz Perilhou of ETOBASALT, a French DM agency.
Scheduled for a full-day session, it broke off early with only three people in the room at the end.
Attendance at Peter Rosenwald's presentation about DM in Brazil — he is vice president at Abril, Brazil's largest publisher — was equally sparse .
Both presentations were in English, perhaps one reason attendance was light, though Philip Kottler's keynote speech on Monday drew a good crowd. Still the medium-sized auditorium was not full even though simultaneous translation was offered.
DIMA has made a conscious effort this year to become a more international show, both by bringing more foreign speakers to the Congress part of the event, as well as partnering with other countries.
This year, six Dutch companies teamed up for a common pavilion here. Next year, the Finnish DMA is slated to do the same thing, once final negotiating hurdles are overcome, a member of the Finnish DMA said. The show organizers also plan to focus on “emerging markets” in the future and have invited the Polish DMA to attend the 2001 DIMA.