Industry pays tribute to visionary Holder

Many of the direct marketing industry’s leading figures have paid tribute to IDM founder and visionary Derek Holder, who has passed away.
EHS 4D co-founder Terry Hunt, who is the current IDM president, as well as an IDM fellow, called Derek “one of the founding fathers of modern direct marketing”. Hunt added: “He led the business to invest in its own future by setting the highest standards for skills training. Derek’s enduring achievement is the Institute itself.”
John Watson, co-founder of WWAV and now a partner at WPN, believes the IDM would not have come into existence without Derek’s vision, persistence and energy. He added: “It was Derek who, in the Eighties, first conceived of the idea of a professional educational body for the direct marketing industry and I was proud to be able – in a small way – to encourage and support his vision.
“It was informally launched at Montreux (where in the good old days direct marketers gathered for a week-long conference) and although most of the industry wholeheartedly supported it, there were some who didn’t like the idea.”
According to Watson, Derek took them on and drove the IDM into existence and then was able to work with David Miles at Kingston University to support its establishment within their ambit before it finally became independent and moved into premises in Teddington. Watson continued: “It was Derek who was the guiding light throughout the process; it was Derek who established first the Diploma in DM, and who then widened it to include all things digital. Derek created the distance learning concept, the summer school, the agency competition…
“He was not only a first class academic brain but had a genuine understanding of direct marketing, real creativity, and, above all, the rare ability to work with the politics of an industry that has still not quite reconciled itself to the existence of an independent IDM. Derek devoted his life to the industry and I hope the industry can find a suitable way to mark his passing.”
Meanwhile, Archibald Ingall Stretton co-founder Stuart Archibald, who is currently looking at new projects, admits his “emotions are mixed with fond recollections of my days with Derek and his great institution”.
“Derek introduced me to the world of lecturing and the importance of imparting ones knowledge to the next generation. His unswerving passion for all things new has seen his organisation progress from an off to an online world,” said Archibald, although he also recalls a lighter side of Derek. “I will remember him for his passion for the subject, his old-world manners, his ability to nurture young students and staff. And, with menthol in hand, let that cheeky grin envelop his face and have a laugh along the way.”
And DM guru Drayton Bird, author of the highly acclaimed industry bible Commonsense Direct Marketing, recalled: “Twenty five years ago on a rainy, windswept evening in Deauville, Derek told me of his idea of founding a direct marketing institute. Hardly any of us leave any kind of mark on the world. He has made a lasting one. Thousands have built careers – and will – because of his vision and drive. A good man.”
Simon Hall, the co-founder of Proximity London, Hall Moore CHI and a new online venture,, remembers Derek as a man who was always focused on the bigger picture. He wanted to make the profession better – but he wasn’t interested in what was in it for him. Hall said: “We’ve lost a true visionary in Derek. He anticipated the needs of the industry, set new professional standards and made it happen. Many people, myself included, owe him a great debt of gratitude. It’s a terrible loss.”
DMA executive director Chris Combemale added: “All of us at the DMA are deeply saddened to hear of Derek’s passing. He was an inspirational leader of our industry who realised many years ago that the sector needed professional skills and talented people to achieve its potential.
“He founded the IDM with a passionate commitment to academic rigour and professional excellence. In today’s world of modern marketing every marketer and every company have become practitioners of the skills Derek cared so much about. The DMA has collaborated closely with the IDM on many initiatives and have great respect for Derek’s contribution to our industry. Derek will be sorely missed.”
Indicia managing director Ian Stockley described Derek as an industry stalwart and one who will always be remembered for his passion and dedication.
He added: “Derek was one of business’ rarities in that he managed to bridge the difficult divide between academia and actual coal-face experience.
“Following a successful client-side career, he founded the IDM and built its reputation so that it became the world’s leading body for professional development and training in direct and interactive marketing.
“Many direct marketers have had their careers shaped by the IDM and the work Derek did to encourage young people into the industry is to be applauded. When a figurehead passes away, they leave behind an unfillable gap, but it is up to us to build on his legacy.”
Finally, Communisis strategy director Charles Ping, a former DMA chairman, said he appreciated “more than many” the immense contribution Derek made to standards, skills and education with direct and digital marketing.
“The industry as we know it today wouldn’t exist without Derek. He was always pushing the industry forward with educational initiatives to meet future needs. A fitting tribute would be to ensure that this continues.”
The IDM has set up a Facebook page for Derek, where people can leave their own tributes.

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1 Comment on "Industry pays tribute to visionary Holder"

  1. Charlie says: “A highly passionate man, Derek will be remembered as one of the key people whose vision turned direct marketing from a cottage industry into a true profession. Always larger than life, he commanded huge respect from all who have passed through the IDM’s doors in Teddington – from staff and students to lecturers – and, as Drayton says, he was one of the good guys…”

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