Technology Veteran Named to Head DMA

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) named John Greco, an AT&T exec and former head of the Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association, to replace outgoing President and CEO Bob Wientzen, who is retiring after an eight-year stint in the role.

From 2000 to 2003, Greco was president and CEO of the Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association, which has 350 members. In addition to advocating for the vast yellow pages industry during a time of change brought on by digital media, he launched the “I Am” ad campaign and created the Electronic Yellow Pages Council.

Prior to his stewardship of Yellow Pages I.M.A., Greco spent four years as marketing executive with printing company R.R. Donnelley & Sons, a longtime DMA member company. Greco’s longest stint by far was his 17 years with AT&T, which culminated in a five-year term as director of AT&T Consumer Communications Services and a division at Bell Labs. Earlier, he held various executive and management roles with various AT&T divisions.

The selection of Greco, a man with a career focus on technology and the Internet, enforced remarks made by Wientzen last October and again in February to the effect that interactive was becoming a bigger part of the DMA’s overall strategy. It should also lift the spirits of those who have hoped Wientzen’s replacement will be more attuned to the Internet than he was.

“With his years of corporate and association management experience and his strong background in marketing technology, John will be able to successfully navigate The DMA through challenges that lay ahead while seizing the many opportunities that the future will present,” said DMA Chairman Rebecca Jewett. “While at the Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association, he spent between 30 and 40 percent of his time on regulatory and legislative initiatives.”

Such experience has become important in an industry where marketing issues are increasingly addressed by courts and government committees. This is owed, in part, to the legal and regulatory actions resulting from rises in spam.

“I believe that my background in marketing, technology, and association management provide me unique perspectives to help adapt The DMA to meet the demands of today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing marketplace,” said Greco.

Many believe Wientzen’s term at the DMA was largely characterized by a lack of aggressiveness when it came to interactive media. The DMA under Wientzen was inclined to advocate an extreme laissez faire policy with regard to email marketing, an approach many felt exacerbated an already disastrous spam crisis. The clearest manifestation of this occurred when the DMA stifled a fairly strict email best practices document the Association for Interactive Marketing (AIM), its subsidiary, was preparing to release.

“The problem was that AIM ran into a very resistant old-time mentality in the DMA. As AIM proposed best practices and responses to policy questions, oftentimes they were in direct opposition to how the DMA chose to respond. It was very clear that the DMA enabled AIM to operate independently as long as there was no conflict. If a conflict arose, the DMA policy would win,” Ian Oxman, VP of consulting for Rapp Digital Innovyx, told ClickZ when Wientzen announced his retirement at the end of last year.

Greco will take over on August 16, after which date Weintzen will continue to serve as chairman through 2004 to aid in the leadership transition. The appointment comes a week after the DMA delayed naming its choice for president and CEO, saying it had not completed its recruiting process by the prescribed date.

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