OPINION: Industry gives credit to rise of direct marketing

A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine Campaign devoting 12 pages to direct communications, as happens this week, or any ad agency cutting off its right arm for the honour of appearing in such a feature.

A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine Campaign

devoting 12 pages to direct communications, as happens this week, or any

ad agency cutting off its right arm for the honour of appearing in such

a feature.



The advertising establishment has not taken direct mail seriously and

has persisted in treating its practitioners as second-class

citizens.



And yet direct communications are the secret weapon in many successful

campaigns - think Tango, Orange, Daewoo, Land Rover and Heinz.



Putting direct communications into the wider context of marketing shows

that its incredible growth is driven by four things. First, the falling

cost of data processing means vast amounts of data can be processed

quickly and cheaply using idiot-proof software; second, there is a new

generation of loyalty cards and smart cards that allow clients to engage

in direct conversation with their customers; third, more than half of UK

households are now on lifestyle databases; fourth, the rise of new media

such as video-on-demand and digital TV has created new ways of reaching

and targeting customers.



These factors are not helped by those direct marketers who are still

engaged in an unappealing numbers game - contacting huge volumes of

consumers cold with aggressive mailings and hoping for a response.



What direct marketing campaigns have too often lacked is the flash of

brilliance of ’traditional’ advertising. But this is changing, hence the

award of Marketer of the Year to Patrick Farrell whose UK launch

campaign for Daewoo politely tapped the public on the shoulder instead

of seizing it by the collar.



The Campaign Direct Awards show that direct communications can be

creative, rewarding and brand-building. On the evidence of the work

produced by Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray, and the campaigns produced

by Saatchi and Saatchi for the Army and Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters for

Daewoo, who can argue otherwise?



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