Silver Apples 2018

Presented in partnership with DMCNY

Silver Apples 2018 - 1_edited_edited.jpg

34th Annual Silver Apples Gala Shines on Leadership & Excellence

By Joe Furgiuele | 12.10.18

The Silver Apple Awards Gala – always a highlight of the Direct Marketing Club of New York (DMCNY) program year, and indeed a signature industry event – went off with great fanfare on November 8 at the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. It was a mix of expected and unexpected.

This was the 34th year of the Apples, and along with the customary Silver Apples for 25 years (or more) of service in and to the industry, there were a few new honors this year. It was the inaugural presentation of the “Apples of Excellence,” including one for Advocacy and another aptly named the Disruptor Award.


As has become tradition, the evening started off with a VIP cocktail party for the 2018 Honorees and their immediate family, along with Silver Apple honorees from previous years. It was a mix of new faces and Industry stalwarts, each of whom had been celebrated for their contributions at one of the previous gala events.

Paulette Oliva, DMCNY President and MeritDirect EVP, welcomed everyone to the evening’s event, thanked the Sponsors, introduced and thanked the Silver Apple Gala Committee Chairs & members, and offered congratulations to the Honorees. She went on to announce and introduce the newly elected DMCNY President-Elect, Ginger Conlon, U.S. editor of The Drum, who will step into the office effective January 2019.

Not waiting for any term limits - Paulette put Ginger to work immediately as one of the Hosts of the evening, and introduced Ginger’s cohost - Vincent Pietrafesa, a DMCNY Board Member, and our industry’s own Stand-up Comedian, who paused from playing New York’s comedy clubs (and his day job at BizWatch Network) to share his humor – with some self-effacing comments on our industry in general, notably how our industry would celebrate a response rate of 10%, its equivalence of a baseball MVP with a batting average of 100! He then launched into a gentile roast of the evening’s honorees – noting, for example, that Matt Blumberg (Return Path) owned way too many Hawaiian shirts; in an earlier career, Stu Ingis (Venable LLP) could taste the salt, but couldn’t smell the demise of a new burger offering from MickyD; and, Keira Krausz (Nutrisystem), while tough, could be left blubbering by the back-story of a TV talent contestant.

And for the formal program, Vincent was rejoined by cohost Ginger Conlon, who headed to the podium to handle honoree introductions, while Vincent headed to the audience to tap selected attendees who shared brief personal tributes of a single honoree – another first that seemed to work rather well.

First up was Pam Haas (Experian Marketing Services), who, along with several career accolades, was introduced as Immediate Past President of the DMCNY, a Silver Apples Gala Co-Host, and member of the gala planning committee for several years. In her acceptance comments, Pam was the first of many who highlighted the importance and value of the DMCNY for introductions and involvement – a place to make and foster business relationships that often evolve into friendships, which can be career enhancing and personally gratifying.

Tim Suther (Change Healthcare) followed – introduced for his pursuit of data-informed marketing, where the arc of marketing meets the science of data, and for his early fascination upon first seeing a Dynamic Gains Curve. Tim suggested that the New York market was a common theme throughout his career, whether he was physically here or not – and fortunate he was to be party to so many of the breakthrough innovations in data marketing, either directly or through the good work of his clients.

Anita Absey (Voxy) was celebrated for her vision and ability to transform data assets into marketing initiatives. And Matt Blumberg, a follow honoree and former colleague, noted her commitment to her team, her company, and the industry ahead of any personal prerogatives. In accepting, Anita shared that she had been the recipient of more generosity and kindness than she had bestowed. She noted how the award brought joy and laughter from rekindled friendships and camaraderie leading up to and throughout the evening. She thanked many mentors and associates, and her parents – who were on hand to celebrate her achievement – despite the fact that she was confident, “they have no idea what I do.”

Matt Blumberg (Return Path) was introduced as not realizing he was actually in direct marketing until long after he started, and then realizing that the internet is indeed, “all about DM.” Besides his many accolades in the business of direct and digital marketing, he was honored for his service to the industry, most notably as DMA (formerly Direct Marketing Association) Chairman – and for his philanthropic activities, including a NewYork-based foundation for new moms reentering the workforce, called Path Forward. In his acceptance comments, he noted that “it takes a family” to raise a Silver Apple Honoree – thanking his wife and children for their support and encouragement.

Keira Krausz (Nutrisystem) was introduced as finding her fascination with marketing upon realizing it was a meld of creative, strategic, conceptual, and analytical thinking, with a healthy dose of psychoanalysis, and then a hobby, thrown in for good measure. She is known to operate under the premise that “more is more” – and we later found out that was a theory handed down from her father, in attendance at the event – along with her mom, whom Keira celebrated as her true role model, sharing that her Mom went back to law school when Keira was in high school, an affirmation that having a career and a family both can be achieved.

Winterberry Group was this year’s Corporate Honoree, and Senior Managing Director Bruce Biegel, a steadfast supporter of, and perennial presenter at DMCNY accepted on behalf of both Winterberry Group and its affiliation with Petsky Prunier, an investment bank in the marketing field. Bruce thanked the team, many of whom were present, and noted that they were a small and dedicated group committed to performing their best work for every client and every project. He went further, on their behalf, to note their collective appreciation to the clients who entrust them with their marketing initiatives, growth strategy, and future direction.

Capping the evening were the two new Apples honors, the first of which – 

The Advocacy – Apples of Excellence award was presented to Stu Ingis (Venable LLP), who was introduced as being a party to any and every U.S. policy or regulation in the past two decades (and more), with an impact on marketing. Stu has either argued for or against on any given proposal – but always in defense of our industry. Along with heartfelt thanks to his clients and colleagues, Stu noted, in particular, his respect for and appreciation of the DMA Board and staff members, many of whom were there to celebrate with him. He also shared an anecdote from his Transportation Security Administration flight clearance application, which became a harbinger for the award – when he was listed as having grey hair and insisted that it be edited to read “silver.”


The presentations wrapped with the Disruptor - Apples of Excellence award, which was presented to Bonin Bough (Marketing Guru, Investor, Author), who arrived just in time to accept it – but while he may have been late (due to conflicting events), he certainly didn’t come up short – either with his humble gratitude for being selected, or with his full-throated support for the existence of and participation in industry associations, like the DMCNY, who help instruct and advance standards, define quality work and celebrate its accomplishment. He noted with dismay that both attendance and involvement in many industry organizations seems to be waning, and encouraged all of those present to help reverse that trend. He went on to suggest it was incumbent upon industry leaders (& Honorees) to both mentor and encourage new talent to surpass “our successes” and continue to “disrupt” the industry, ensuring a vibrant future.

And, with that, another Silver Apples Gala concluded – Ginger and Vincent had accomplished their duties, dispensed all the awards, and thanked the crowd of 200-plusfor their attendance and participation. They wished everyone well, and Ginger signed-off with a hearty, “See you next year.”

Read about the DMCNY 2018 Silver Apple honorees:

  • Anita Absey, Chief Revenue Officer, Voxy

  • Pamela Haas, Senior Account Director, Experian Marketing Services

  • Keira Krausz, EVP and CMO, Nutrisystem

  • Matt Blumberg, Chairman and CEO, Return Path

  • Tim Suther, SVP and GM, Data Solutions, Change Healthcare​

  • Advocacy Apple of Excellence: Stu Ingis, Chairman, Venable LLP 

  • Disruptor Apple of Excellence: Bonin Bough, Founder & Chief Growth
    Officer, Bonin Ventures; Investor; Host of CNBC's Cleveland Hustles;
    Author of Txt Me (646) 759-1837 

  • Corporate honoree: Winterberry Group

Joe F.jpg

About the Author

Joe Furgiuele is VP of MeritDirect and head of its FCI Analytics & Reporting division. Joe is heavily involved with several industry associations. He serves on the Board of the DMCNY; has been a member of the DMA Circulation Council Operating Committee and cochair of the Inaugural Circulation Day in 1983, and again from 2010-2012. He served on the DMA List Council Operating Committee and advisory committee for List Days for several years. He is a frequent speaker at DMA, HVDMA, and MCMA (formerly FMA) activities and conferences.