The '60s arguably represented the Golden Age of pop music. This was
the era of Sergeant Pepper's, Electric Ladyland and Ernie (The Fastest
Milkman In The West). But it also generated mountains of amateurish,
badly-executed dross. Nowadays, every track is honed to technical
perfection by meticulous professionals. However bad it may be, it still
There's a comparison to be drawn here with Direct Marketing. Ten years
ago when DM was in its infancy, I was asked to judge submissions that
were breathtakingly terrible in every respect: misspelled headlines,
out-of-register print, illegal promotion mechanics, et al.
But among the swine were a handful of pearls - deft, witty, compelling,
beautifully-executed and all the more rewarding for their rarity.
Scanning the contenders at this year's Campaign Direct Awards, it seems
DM is erring in the same direction.
Technically, the standard is impressively high. The mechanics work, the
copy's lucid, the art direction and photography slick. The cowboys have
traded in their buckskin chaps for Armani.
This is all good news. On the other hand, the Jimi Hendrix of Direct
Marketing is conspicuous by his absence.
The fact is, since the last recession, we've become neurotically
risk-averse. Many clients lack either the licence or the bottle to trust
their instincts. Research tools iron out the flashes of inspiration
along with the grossest errors.
So we're left with a body of sound, professional work. Excellent work,
the very best of which you'll see and, hopefully, applaud in this
Our aspiration for next year must be to stretch up from this most robust
of platforms and to risk scorching our fingers on, if not the stars,
then at least a comet or two.
John Townshend - Creative director, Rapier
Shaun McIlrath - Creative director, Heresy
Graham Mills - Joint creative director, Impiric (at time of judging)
Marc Nohr - Managing director, Lion
Arthur Parshotam - Executive creative director, Lowe Live
Nigel Waring - Head, MediaVest Direct
Mike Cavers - Creative director, Publicis Dialog
Andy Blackford - Group creative director, Grey Worldwide
Karen Lee - Director, WWAV Rapp Collins
Gary Sharpen - Creative partner, Leonardo
Steve Aldridge - Creative partner, Partners Andrews Aldridge
Ken Walker - Marketing director, MS Society
Ed Prichard - Creative partner, Mustard