The DMA/Royal Mail Awards ’exist to recognise direct marketing
excellence in strategy, creative and results’. You can’t argue with a
word of that, surely? Well, actually, I can. The word I take issue with
is ’and’. Sometimes it should be ’or’.
Am I saying the three aren’t interdependent? Not a bit. In every piece
of work, you have to aspire to excellence throughout - one reason why
our agency now works in multi-disciplinary teams. All the same, awards
are sometimes most valuable when they champion something astoundingly
brilliant in one given field. By combining marks equally for three
different areas, you risk rewarding the pack-of-all-trades: goodish
strategy, all-rightish creative, okayish results. It’s rather like those
surveys of world cities which tot up every imaginable factor - air
purity, crime rate, nightlife, prices, transportation - and then tell
you to move to Boise, Idaho.
The four examples here illustrate this point: just how hard it is to get
everything right in our business. All four show praiseworthy qualities
in strategy, thinking and execution. But nowhere are all these qualities
found together in the same piece. Painfully extending the simile above,
I would say I found some nice parks, a decent bar and a good bus
service, all, sadly, in different towns.
The Toyota Avensis mailing contains some natty copy and interesting art
direction. Unfortunately, instead of a clear, compelling idea, the piece
leans on the well-worn theme of the Seven Deadly Sins (or, to be
precise, ’the Seven Sins’, automotive clients presumably being a little
chary about lines with the word ’deadly’ in them). The piece also lacks
context - why are you writing to me?
Next, Texaco. Unmistakably branded. And full marks to whoever did the
fact-finding. All the ingredients are here for persuasive advertising; I
just feel the team could have used a little extra time to heat them
beyond Gas Mark 4. You can ruin great facts by being too damn clever
about them, granted, but the fuel-saving ad could hit still harder,
while the other two still ring a little of chest-beating biz-to-biz
Barclays Bank I commend for actually spending some time and money on
communicating with existing customers other than selling them
This mailing contains your new Connect Card, which now carries some kind
of individualised chip. The wheeze is that you put your finger on the
accompanying leaflet and, through body heat, it reveals ’your’
fingerprint. Individual, see? My comments here: 1) fingerprint theme
unbelievably over-used; 2) better to focus on security (benefit) rather
than individuality (feature).
Lastly, Boots. A pleasant creative approach, where three envelopes are
nested inside one another, Russian-doll-fashion (not a new format - but
then neither is a 48-sheet poster or a dps, and no-one attacks creatives
for using those). Here, the nested envelopes demonstrate how Boots No7’s
’new look skincare ... nourishes and softens ... deep into the layers of
It’s a good promise ... on which the contents fail to deliver.
Instead, the letter starts off on a wholly new ’empathic’ tack,
bridgetjonesifying about appearance, new packaging, savings, vouchers,
whatever. Anything but deep-down nourishment and softness.
It’s a funny thing. Nobody would ever write a press ad where the body
copy started on a different tack from the headline. Yet, in a letter,
because it’s a separate sheet of paper, there’s the assumption that
non-sequiturs are somehow OK did you see that shark documentary on the
Discovery Channel last night? Brilliant!
Rory Sutherland is the creative director of OgilvyOne.
Brief: Get prospects to take a test drive in the new Avensis
Agency: Grey Direct
Copywriter: Justin Moore
Art director: Steve Robertson
BARCLAYS CONNECT CARD
Brief: Replace customers’ current card with a new individualised
security feature, illustrated by your own fingerprint
Copywriter: Dawn Coulter Art director: Simon Stephenson
Brief: Launch the new No7 skincare range to non-purchasers of No7
Agency: Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel
Copywriter: Rebecca Rae
Art director: Leigh Roberts
TEXACO Brief: Communicate the benefits of Texaco’s product or service to
the industrial, automotive or truck and bus market
Copywriter: Christian Clark
Art director: Rod Clausen.