MLI was formerly a joint venture with MLA (Mailing Lists Asia Ltd.) MLA was founded in 1983 by James Thornton in Hong Kong. He had been active in periodical publishing since 1962 and formed his first magazine publishing business in 1969. He launched ‘Business Traveler’ Magazine’s Europe and Middle East Edition in 1976, building up a paid circulation (at the time) of 56,000 through direct mail.
He then came to Asia in 1981 to launch ‘Business Traveler’s’ Asia-Pacific edition. After selling his publishing interests in 1983, he founded MLA that same year for two reasons: there was at that time no regional or international list brokerage based in Asia, and he also needed to source and supply good, responsive lists to his own, separately incorporated, multinational DM project business.
James had spoken at direct marketing and postal conferences around the world, and contributed articles to most DM publications globally. He was an international direct marketing specialist and had been engaged in the management and ownership of international direct marketing projects since 1984. These were primarily in the travel, merchandising and publishing sectors. He had been associated with all aspects of DM including conceptualization, strategy, offer, copywriting, response analysis, postal options etc.
Multinational direct marketing had been his professional focus for many years. He was a Director of the Hong Kong Direct Marketing Association (HKDMA) and in 2007 received the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award for International Direct Marketing’ from the US Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
He was also a Member of the U.S. DMA International Council and served on its International Advisory Board. His interests included the worldwide marketing of authentic, natural health products. MLA became an active member of the Hong Kong Direct Marketing Association (HKDMA), the Direct Marketing Association in USA (DMA), and the Direct Marketing Association of India (DMAI).