The DMA/Royal Mail Awards ’exist to recognise direct marketing excellence in strategy, creative and results’. You can’t argue with a word of that, surely? Well, actually, I can. The word I take issue with is ’and’. Sometimes it should be ’or’.

The DMA/Royal Mail Awards ’exist to recognise direct marketing

excellence in strategy, creative and results’. You can’t argue with a

word of that, surely? Well, actually, I can. The word I take issue with

is ’and’. Sometimes it should be ’or’.

Am I saying the three aren’t interdependent? Not a bit. In every piece

of work, you have to aspire to excellence throughout - one reason why

our agency now works in multi-disciplinary teams. All the same, awards

are sometimes most valuable when they champion something astoundingly

brilliant in one given field. By combining marks equally for three

different areas, you risk rewarding the pack-of-all-trades: goodish

strategy, all-rightish creative, okayish results. It’s rather like those

surveys of world cities which tot up every imaginable factor - air

purity, crime rate, nightlife, prices, transportation - and then tell

you to move to Boise, Idaho.

The four examples here illustrate this point: just how hard it is to get

everything right in our business. All four show praiseworthy qualities

in strategy, thinking and execution. But nowhere are all these qualities

found together in the same piece. Painfully extending the simile above,

I would say I found some nice parks, a decent bar and a good bus

service, all, sadly, in different towns.

The Toyota Avensis mailing contains some natty copy and interesting art

direction. Unfortunately, instead of a clear, compelling idea, the piece

leans on the well-worn theme of the Seven Deadly Sins (or, to be

precise, ’the Seven Sins’, automotive clients presumably being a little

chary about lines with the word ’deadly’ in them). The piece also lacks

context - why are you writing to me?

Next, Texaco. Unmistakably branded. And full marks to whoever did the

fact-finding. All the ingredients are here for persuasive advertising; I

just feel the team could have used a little extra time to heat them

beyond Gas Mark 4. You can ruin great facts by being too damn clever

about them, granted, but the fuel-saving ad could hit still harder,

while the other two still ring a little of chest-beating biz-to-biz


Barclays Bank I commend for actually spending some time and money on

communicating with existing customers other than selling them


This mailing contains your new Connect Card, which now carries some kind

of individualised chip. The wheeze is that you put your finger on the

accompanying leaflet and, through body heat, it reveals ’your’

fingerprint. Individual, see? My comments here: 1) fingerprint theme

unbelievably over-used; 2) better to focus on security (benefit) rather

than individuality (feature).

Lastly, Boots. A pleasant creative approach, where three envelopes are

nested inside one another, Russian-doll-fashion (not a new format - but

then neither is a 48-sheet poster or a dps, and no-one attacks creatives

for using those). Here, the nested envelopes demonstrate how Boots No7’s

’new look skincare ... nourishes and softens ... deep into the layers of

your skin’.

It’s a good promise ... on which the contents fail to deliver.

Instead, the letter starts off on a wholly new ’empathic’ tack,

bridgetjonesifying about appearance, new packaging, savings, vouchers,

whatever. Anything but deep-down nourishment and softness.

It’s a funny thing. Nobody would ever write a press ad where the body

copy started on a different tack from the headline. Yet, in a letter,

because it’s a separate sheet of paper, there’s the assumption that

non-sequiturs are somehow OK did you see that shark documentary on the

Discovery Channel last night? Brilliant!

Rory Sutherland is the creative director of OgilvyOne.



Brief: Get prospects to take a test drive in the new Avensis

Agency: Grey Direct

Copywriter: Justin Moore

Art director: Steve Robertson


Brief: Replace customers’ current card with a new individualised

security feature, illustrated by your own fingerprint

Agency: Rapier

Copywriter: Dawn Coulter Art director: Simon Stephenson


Brief: Launch the new No7 skincare range to non-purchasers of No7


Agency: Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel

Copywriter: Rebecca Rae

Art director: Leigh Roberts

TEXACO Brief: Communicate the benefits of Texaco’s product or service to

the industrial, automotive or truck and bus market

Agency: IMP

Copywriter: Christian Clark

Art director: Rod Clausen.


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