Ballyhoo: 33 rd Annual Silver Apple Honorees Get Star Treatment at ’17 Gala
By Chet Dalzell
If you took a second look at your ticket at the 2017 Direct Marketing Club of New York’s 33 rd Annual Silver Apples gala, you’d be forgiven. We all knew we were gathering to honor seven individuals and one corporation who are special. That was expected.

But just minutes into the awards program, the 220 attendees were wowed by a Broadway-inspired tribute to the honorees that could have happened on any Great White Way stage nearby. Bravo, DMCNY Club President Paulette Oliva of Merit Direct and co-performer Peter McClung! What a show!

Talent abounds in this field – and it’s not only in marketing. Each honoree received a musical accolade from Oliva & McClung – with lyrics rewritten for effect:

 Golden Apple honoree Stu Boysen, executive director of DMCNY from 1982-2016 (“Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof); and Silver Apple honorees
 Rita Shankewitz , director of marketing at Bottom Line Reports (Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz”);
 IAB President & CEO Randall Rothenberg (George Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me”);
 ALC’s Fran Green, president of Smart Data Solutions (“America” from West Side Story);
 Worldata President & CEO Jay Schwedelson (“Hey Big Spender” from Chicago);
 John Princiotta senior vice president at PCH (“Luck Be a Lady” from Guys and Dolls);
 Eva Reda, executive vice president and group manager, partnerships and product development, American Express (“Seasons of Love” from Rent); and for the corporate Silver Apple honoree,
 BMI Global OMS (“Be Our Guest” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast).

It wasn’t musical magic that extended the rolling carpet out in front of the Edison Ballroom off Times Square on November 16. It was marketing leadership, and giving back as a professional over a quarter century or more – which has kept the New York direct, digital and data marketing community thriving and growing.

Through the honorees, the next generation of marketing directly benefits—with scholarships, mentorship and benchmarking for career development.

The seven new Silver Apple honorees join 238 prior individual recipients, and 21 corporate honorees – many of whom were present at the 2017 gala.

Stu Boysen’s award marks the eighth time a Golden Apple honoree has been named for 50 years of service. “It’s a little different on this side of the lights,” Boysen confessed, as he paid tribute to other Golden Apple honorees, among them Lester Wunderman, Bill Denhard, Arthur Blumenfield and the late Jim Prendergast, the latter who preceded Boysen as DMCNY executive director.

Boysen also called out Hank “Pete“ Hoke, Jr. (also a Golden Apple honoree) who introduced him to direct marketing in 1966, as well as to many industry luminaries. Hoke also happened to be father-in- law to Boysen—and his wife Wendy and brother-in- law Hank Hoke III were close by during the gala, as well as his four sons. “In this world of tweeting and texting, nothing replaces in-person networking,” he said – making the case for club membership. “Grow your knowledge, participate and you will become bigger than yourself.” Yes, standing ovation!

Eva Reda unfortunately was called away and could not attend – no doubt generating American Express miles in her sudden sojourn. But accepting on her behalf was Data & Marketing Association CEO Tom Benton, a 2016 Silver Apple honoree himself, who acknowledged Reda’s contributions as a DMA Board member. As Oliva and McClung sang, “Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred SkyMiles | How Do You Measure the Millions Enrolled!”

Next up, it was Jay Schwedelson’s presentation. Said Marketing Insights editor Ginger Conlon, “Jay transformed Worldata from a traditional list rental firm into an interactive leader, by launching divisions that addressed new market opportunities, including SubjectLine.com, WebConnect, and strategic consulting services.” He also gives back, having served on Marketing EDGE’s Board of Trustees for nine years, and a DMA Board Member, past chair of DMA List Leaders Group, and co-founder of DMA’s Email Experience Council.

“When you grow up in a family business, it’s everywhere,” Schwedelson said, crediting his mom and dad, Helen and Roy, who watched their son proudly in the room. “I learned math from net name arrangements, and learned reading from list data cards,” he quipped, thanking his employees, clients and family members, among them his wife Dr. Allison Schwedelson.

In introducing honoree Rita Shankewitz, last year’s honoree Nina LaFrance of Forbes, cited some impressive Bottom Line Reports credentials: 1,000 direct mail campaigns, 500 million direct mail pieces, a file of 350,000 paid subscribers – as well as Shankewitz’s TV, Digital Alternate Media knowledgebase. “Through all of this, Rita shows a special kind of leadership, one of relationship capital.”

Shankewitz thanked Bottom Line Reports founder Marty Edelson, and she recalled how at her first big meeting with the boss after joining the company, she prepped all her reports, memorized all the numbers, and was ready for strategic recommendations, only to have Edelson instead ask her, “What do you want people to remember about you?”

“Marty taught me much in business,” Shankewitz said. “Be humble and kind… not to burn bridges or take things for granted.” She also thanked co-workers, former and present, among them her mentor and friend Brian Kurtz, and her vendors – “partners that I trust.” She also mentioned husband George Bartman is not such a bad magalog copy writer. Thank you, family.

Corporate honoree BMI Global OMS is in the honoree spotlight, based on its rich history as a merge/purge, order management system, custom software and fulfillment innovator. “Our membership in this [DMCNY] club has been an important part of our business success all these years,” said company President Barry Blumenfield, with dad Arthur Blumenfield beaming feet away.

“Here, the best in direct marketing share their secrets,” said Barry, thanking his colleagues, but also club members James Fosina, Pegg Nadler, Stu Boysen, Hank Hoke, among others. His wife Jodi also joined the family company six years ago, expert as she is product documentation, project management and control. Blessed in life? Well, Art now has ten grandchildren.

By the time IAB chief Randall Rothenberg was done delivering his “Clean Up the Digital Advertising Ecosystem” stump speech, the room was ready to elect him president of somewhere else. “Get out of the fake-anything business,” he said as he urged the room to make transparent and accountable digital media buying, placement and reporting.

Randall’s world is all-digital. But he learned a lot about marketing in his early career as a journalist at The New York Times, Time, Inc., and Booz Allen Hamilton, where he interviewed such DM legends as Bill Jayme, David Sayer and Frank Johnson. Now IAB is helping to certify in digital ad standards and selling thousands of professionals, among them immediate past club president Pam Haas, and her colleagues at Experian, who presented Rothenberg’s award and thanked IAB for all the training.

ALC’s Fran Green used her award acceptance as an opportunity to announce her retirement… of sorts. “I’m retiring from beliefs I’m leaving behind,” she said, among them “all data is created equal” and “scale is more important than accuracy.”

Perhaps echoing Rothenberg, she noted how digital data requires scrutiny as to its source and accuracy, and “big data is too big” and requires analysis to find the nuggets. In building ALC’s audience development and insights business, and hosting its Smart Data event for two decades-plus running, Green thanked ALC chief Donn Rappaport who tapped her in 1978. “I have an amazing team… The best is yet to come.”

There’s no better way to wrap the evening than to welcome in the PCH Prize Patrol’s Danielle Lam, who presented John Princiotta with a bouquet and a giant “check.” Princiotta has been with PCH for 32 years and while the company has given away $315 million in sweepstakes prizes to date, the real story of success comes from PCH’s transformation from its magazine subscription generating heritage to its multifaceted business in online gaming, engagement and promotions.

“CPGs [consumer packaged goods companies] are dying to have a direct relationship with their customers,” Princiotta said, indicating where some of PCH’s most recent business is originating. He thanked PCH CEO Andy Goldberg, Debbie Holland, Todd Sloane, Craig Anderson, among other PCH colleagues – all of whom were present.

The Silver Apples gala truly has become a gathering of special individuals in our business – a business that gives back over and over. A warm thank you to event signature and elite sponsors Experian, Worldata, PCH and Infogroup Data Solutions – as well as the hundreds of marketers present who know a winning direct marketing package when they see it!

Thank you to our event sponsors:

Signature Sponsors:

 

Elite Sponsor:

 

The Silver Apple 2017 honorees include:

  • Fran Green, President-Smart Data Solutions, ALC (Princeton, NJ)
  • John Princiotta, Senior Vice President, PCH (Jericho, NY)
  • Eva Reda, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Partnerships & Product Development, American Express (New York, NY)
  • Randall Rothenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, IAB [Interactive Advertising Bureau] (New York, NY)
  • Jay Schwedelson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Worldata (Boca Raton, FL)
  • Rita Shankewitz, Director of Marketing, Bottom Line, Inc. (Stamford, CT)
  • Corporate: BMI Global-OMS (Shelton, CT)
    Golden Apple: Stu Boysen (Gilford, NH)