Arthur Middleton Hughes Leaves a Rich Direct Marketing Leadership Legacy
In his early 80s, Arthur Middleton Hughes jumps off of the conference stage, pivots in front of an audience member, and pretends to look at a client's computer in order to teach that "client" how to send marketing emails. He says situations like these were the reason he wrote books about direct marketing.
"Now you don't make any money writing books like this, but you get to be famous," he jokes in a 2011 video from the Email Insider Summit.
A legend in his own time, Hughes was a popular direct marketing speaker, author, blogger and more. Family and friends report Arthur Middleton Hughes died on Aug. 20 after a heart attack. The Ft. Lauderdale resident was 86.
"Since the original publication in 1994 and now in its fourth edition, Arthur Middleton Hughes' seminal text 'Strategic Database Marketing' has been providing students and marketing professionals with the most thorough guide available on the design and customization of an effective database program," responds Mary Glenn, Associate Publisher, Business, McGraw-Hill Professional. "A pioneer in the field of database marketing, Hughes was a key developer of RFM for Windows, a software product for advanced marketing to customers. McGraw-Hill Education is proud to have him on our list of bestselling and influential authors."
According to his obituary, Hughes' 34 years in direct marketing was actually his third career and he was just starting on his fourth. "After graduating magna cum laude from Princeton [in philosophy, then earning a master's degree in economics], he spent 26 years in the U.S. government in AID and in the Treasury Department," Hughes' obituary reads. "He taught economics at the University of Maryland for 35 years and spent 34 years in private industry in database and email marketing."
In his penultimate public post on Facebook, Hughes writes on March 5 about the work that would bring the number of his published books to a dozen: "Currently working on a new book: 'About Face! Why the World Needs More Carbon Dioxide' … It exposes the failed science of global warming …" (Opens as a PDF)
Peggy Garner, Director, Marketing Communications at KBM Group—where Hughes worked from 2004 to 2008—was also saddened to hear of his passing and surprised after reading his obituary that Hughes had such a multifaceted personality. For instance, he'd advised presidents prior to becoming a direct marketing icon and was a skilled pianist.
Garner notes Hughes was so open with his direct marketing skill, he often shared it with the Target Marketing audience.
"He was such a bundle of energy and a pleasure to know," Garner tells Target Marketing on Thursday. "He was so popular with the young people [in] the direct marketing community, especially internationally. I remember one time at a DMA conference, we were doing a book signing for one of his latest books and the people started lining up early to meet him. Most of them were young and from outside the U.S. They were so excited to meet him and get their picture taken with him. I told him he was a rock star!"
Hughes founded the Database Marketing Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and was its VP when Target Marketing's 2009 Direct Marketer of the Year, Pegg Nadler, cited him as a direct marketing visionary who influenced her career.
"I was one of the lucky ones to spend some time with Arthur Hughes," Nadler writes in an email to Target Marketing. "Long before I sat with him over a lively dinner at a direct marketing conference in Florida many years ago, I had read nearly all of his books on database marketing. Since the early 1990s, I always shared his article on 'Why Databases Fail' with countless clients as an example of what not to do when building and operating marketing databases. His approach was sensible and straightforward.
"What I will remember most about Arthur was the nonstop twinkle in his eyes—which would shine even brighter when you presented him with a debate or challenged him in the basic applications of RFM, database marketing or statistical analysis," Nadler continues. "He would never miss an opportunity to give you heck of a scolding if he thought you were on the wrong path. He was a true character indeed—filled with plenty of opinions, a math professor at heart, and a relentless lobbyist for database marketing."
Hughes is survived by his widow, Helena, his four children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The family is arranging a memorial service at 11 a.m. on Oct. 25 at St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Ft. Lauderdale.