This past week, we bid farewell to a gentleman and a marketing pioneer, Arthur Blumenfield.
For those of us in the New York marketing community, who revere data and data-driven marketing and media — as well as the camaraderie of our community — Arthur truly was a leading light.
Arthur was full of stories, and he was a masterful storyteller. He was also joyful, and one couldn’t help feeling the warmth when you were with him. One of my favorite stories was a visit he had taken to Jerusalem, where the locals told him to get a room at the Yimcah Hotel. Up and down he rode the bus route, having to remind the forgetful bus driver a couple of times to drop him off at the stop nearest to the hotel. Peeling his eyes along the route, looking for the hotel — back and forth, as other riders jumped in to say the bus had passed the hotel. Really? Finally, when he actually had the correct stop, he exited the bus and wandered about, finally discovering the Yimcah Hotel, otherwise known as the Y-M-C-A.
That was it, you never knew if it was urban lore — or a true experience. But it really didn’t matter, it was Arthur sharing a tale, and earning a laugh.
He loved his regular OGLE meetings — Old Guys Lunch Experience. Last summer, I received a coveted invitation. And Arthur truly had a plan for inviting me there. There were plenty of folks in our field — with wisdom a-plenty — with their own stories to be told, and shared. He shared with me Eddy Boas’s book, “I’m Not a Victim, I am a Survivor” — how one of our industry’s own endured the Holocaust in a camp with his family, only to survive, rise and build a career in Australia and beyond as a direct marketer. Arthur’s career crossed paths with many such personalities, most of them colorful like himself.
His accomplishments professionally preceded him:
- He invented the de-duping processes for mail data files, as well as “Me-Books” — that’s personalized print and storytelling coming together;
- He served as longtime treasurer for the Direct Marketing Club of New York, earning both Silver Apple (1994) and Golden Apple (2013) honors. The company he founded, BMI Global OMS, a family business, was a Silver Apple corporate honoree itself last year;
- He was a founder of Direct Marketing Days of New York;
- He cared deeply for the education mission of DMCNY — and our collective support for the future of our field;
- He developed an order management system first used by the Direct Marketing Association (now Data & Marketing Association) for its conferences; and on and on.
He loved his craft, he loved our field, and loved most of all his family — husband, father, grandfather. You know when you were invited to a summer outing in Easton, Conn., it was an extended family affair.
Thank you, Arthur, for your warmth, stories and achievements — all of which you so readily shared. We are all the better for it, and — in your spirit — I’m hopeful that any of us can pay it forward at least half as good as you did, with that ever-present smile. That would be remarkable.