INTEGRATED: PORTFOLIO; Steve Harrison

With direct response advertising, there’s no hiding place; work is measured by results. Scary. ‘It’s both terrifying and gratifying,’ Steve Harrison, creative director of O&M Direct, agrees. ‘There’s certainly no room for art for art’s sake.’ Still, the erudite, softly spoken northerner has undoubtedly felt more gratification than terror of late.

With direct response advertising, there’s no hiding place; work is

measured by results. Scary. ‘It’s both terrifying and gratifying,’ Steve

Harrison, creative director of O&M Direct, agrees. ‘There’s certainly no

room for art for art’s sake.’ Still, the erudite, softly spoken

northerner has undoubtedly felt more gratification than terror of late.



Since Harrison took on the top creative job in 1991, O&M Direct’s

campaigns for blue-chip clients such as IBM, British Telecom and the

Royal Mail have scooped industry awards by the truck load and proved

there is more to it than deciding where to put the coupon.



A wizard with long copy, Harrison was at first reluctant to swap writing

for managing O&M Direct’s creative department, which currently has 14

teams. But he has contrived to keep his hand in. ‘I approve every piece

of copy we produce,’ he reveals, ‘so I still have to do a fair amount of

tweaking and restructuring.’



He also encourages an integrated approach to media, which allows for

ingenious one-offs. A recent ad for Bupa DentalCare, for instance, was

placed along a row of boxed-off small ads, creating the impression of a

set of teeth; the copy was reversed out of the single, blackened

‘tooth’.



‘We’ve no snobbery for any particular medium,’ Harrison explains. ‘We

choose the best medium for a particular marketing problem.’ With more

traditional direct mail, Harrison is wary of gimmicks - unless, of

course, they are germane to the product.



A mailer for Disneyland Paris arrives in a tube: it’s printed black on

the outside apart from an inch at the top and bottom, so when you pull

it out you appear to be holding a hollow paper wand. Then simply unroll

it for details of the offer.



Harrison is proud of his own department, yet he is surprisingly scathing

about the direct response market as a whole. ‘The majority of direct

response advertising doesn’t deserve a lot of respect,’ he says. ‘You

have to earn it.’ O&M Direct is doing its bit.



Topics