That is the backdrop to this year's Campaign Direct Awards. Has the direct industry learned its new lines well enough to earn a curtain call?
The audience - or rather the judges - certainly did not think so on our first day together. The Healthcare and Fashion and Beauty performances were so mundane I thought I would have to lock the exits. But on the second day, mercifully, things got better. A good shortlist emerged from most of the other categories.
From a mail perspective, the winners demonstrate that some agencies are still finding ingenious ways to win the hearts and minds of consumers and that brave clients are still prepared to buy brave work.
Interactive work, I am glad to report, shows every sign that it is getting stronger and more relevant as a direct medium. But, having said that, it will only truly take off when clients and agencies are properly aligned to evaluate the space.
Inevitably, everyone will have strong opinions on this year's award winners.
But whether you love or loathe the work, I think you will all agree on one thing - we all need to go back to work and strive to do better.
My sincere thanks to the judges for their time, their passion and their insightful comments.
THE JUDGES Jon Williams - Creative director, Wunderman Interactive Steve Stretton - Creative partner, Archibald Ingall Stretton Peter Harle - Joint creative director, Claydon Heeley Jones Mason Lisa McCormack - Marketing manager, Telewest Broadband Brian Storey - Creative partner, Wand Sam Probert - Head of direct marketing, O2 Warren Moore - Creative partner, Hall Moore CHI David Harris - Creative partner, Lida Barney Cockerill - Creative director, WWAV Rapp Collins Matt Button - CRM and database marketing manager, Lexus GB Marc Michaels - Director of direct and relationship marketing, COI Cordell Burke (Chairman) - Executive creative director, OgilvyOne Shaun Moran - Creative director, Partners Andrews Aldridge Paul Tullo - Creative director, Tullo Marshall Warren Peter Mitchell - Managing director, WWAV Rapp Collins