1. Sunderland NHS "baby"
The unknown North-East agency Different took the direct marketing industry by storm this year with this breathtaking execution that won gold at Campaign's Direct Awards and performed well at the Royal Mail DMA Awards too. The press ad was designed both to provoke discussion of the issues that surround smoking during pregnancy and to direct pregnant women to a free NHS phone line. While some below-the-line purists feel "baby" works better as a piece of brand awareness, all agree that this is an example of art direction at its best.
Writer: Chris Rickaby
Art directors: Ian Millen, Stewart Allan, Carlo Reale
2. Depaul Trust "choices"
A brilliant piece of interactive film that demonstrates how young people can end up homeless. Throughout the story of one young man, viewers can change the narrative direction of the film by pushing a button on their remote control. Not only did this work win a silver at Campaign Direct, it also achieved international recognition, landing a gold at Cannes.
Agency: Publicis Dialog
Writers/art directors: Damon Troth, Joanna Perry
3. Ardbeg "committee reserve"
For those of you that don't know, Ardbeg is a malt whisky - owned by Glenmorangie - that is distilled on the remote Scottish island of Islay. Four years ago, Story launched a customer relationship programme called The Ardbeg Committee. This year, 22,000 committee members in 84 countries were sent a whisky label with their name and committee number on it. Those that returned it were sent a personalised bottle of Ardbeg with their label attached. The mailing increased both online orders and traffic to the website and many of the respondents were persuaded to visit the Ardbeg distillery. The campaign was the latest instalment of one of the most original and effective loyalty campaigns in recent years. Since 2000, Story's work has helped Ardbeg grow by 280 per cent.
Writer/art director: Olivia Jones
4. IBM "the invisible IT director"
This mailing went to IT directors in the public sector who felt that IBM's Tivoli software was too expensive for their budgets. It contained an "invisible IT expert", ie, it was a package with nothing in it. The sales pitch told recipients that having Tivoli was like having an expert member of staff who could make both them and their colleagues more productive by doing the difficult jobs that tie up their time. The mailing generated 23 leads worth more than £800,000, impressed the judges at the Royal Mail DMA Awards and is a good bet for a Cannes Direct Lion next year.
Agency: Harrison Troughton Wunderman
Writer: Rob Kavanagh
Art director: Anthony Cliff
5. Fiat "coathanger"
Any number of Fiat pieces could have made it on to the list this year. The Arc creative directors Graham Mills and Jack Nolan seem to have really gotten to grips with the brand. This work addressed the fact that large families are frustrated by the lack of space in modern cars. The campaign claimed that "Fiat now comes in your size" and featured L-, XL- and XXL-sized coat hangers bent into the shape of a Fiat MPV. It generated 1,739 test drives and 598 vehicle sales.
Writer: Aaron Martin
Art director: Garry Munns
6. Orange "tariff checker"
Craik Jones' campaigns for Orange have traditionally been "boutique" quality, so this plain manilla envelope is quite unexpected. Recipients were invited to post their mobile phone bills in the envelope to an independent third party who would then confirm whether or not they'd get a better deal with Orange. There was also a phone line for the impatient. Disarming, unusual and effective.
Agency: Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel
Writer: David Brown
Art director: Mark Buckingham
7. Royal Mail "flower mailing"
It's not easy to persuade a bruised public that the Royal Mail is an efficient service, especially when wildcat strikes are rife and post boxes are nailed shut. This was OgilvyOne's bitch of a brief. So the agency sent 200,000 businesses fresh flowers to demonstrate the speed, flexibility and reach of the Royal Mail. A brave piece of work that got a recall rate of 40 per cent and a silver Campaign Direct Award.
Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide
Writer: Colin Nimick
Art director: Harvey Lee
8. Volkswagen "diesel stamp mailing"
No list of the best direct marketing work would be complete if it didn't include a Volkswagen piece from Proximity London. This mailing aimed to convince fleet managers to switch to Volkswagen diesel models, arguing that diesels perform just as well as petrol cars but are cheaper to run. The pack, which continued the theme established by BMP's TV campaign, contained a rubber stamp with the phrase: "Don't forget it's a diesel."
Agency: Proximity London
Writer: Jake Holmes
Art director: Warren Moore
9. National Art Fund "wallpaper"
The National Art Fund makes the top ten for the second year running. Partners Andrews Aldridge sent targets in London a rectangle of real, albeit tasteless, wallpaper, upon which the words "without the Art Fund this could be all that's left hanging in our museums and galleries" were written. A visually intriguing, high-impact piece that boasts the attention to detail we've come to expect from PAA work.
Agency: Partners Andrews Aldridge
Writer: Kristian Foy
Art director: Mark Hanson
10. BMW "rivet"
AIS was tasked with creating a below-the-line piece to accompany WCRS's spectacular Terminator-style TV execution. Rather than copy it, the agency sent prospects a single rivet from the 5 series. The pack carried the line "all we know about the rivet", developing the "all we know about the car, in a car" strapline used in WCRS's original ad. This is a thoughtful, attractive piece of work worthy of a brand as classy as BMW.
Agency: Archibald Ingall Stretton
Writer: John Vinton
Art director: Martin Lythgoe