One of the many benefits of being a
want-to-call-it agency, is that you get to go to plenty of awards
ceremonies and dip into lots of different industries.
However, no matter how different they all are, there is one thing that
unites them - apart from the fact they’re all fun, they all seem to
share an aching longing to be something other than they are.
Cannes, for example, would rather be a film festival, D&AD last year
tried to be Cannes, DMA and SPCA would like to be D&AD, and PR Week (to
our delight) would prefer to be a Bavarian beer festival. In this sense,
the John Caples International Awards are unique. Twenty years old this
year, they are dedicated to direct marketing and they’re damn proud of
what they are.
This was the first time FCA! had entered (all credit to Pamela Craik of
Craik Jones whose timely letter prompted our entries). In truth, we’d
heard bad reports about the world’s premier international direct
marketing awards. Tales abounded of long, laudatory speeches honouring
the inventors of the Pack Flash. And the work was described, at best, as
’highly effective’ - the creative equivalent of ’she’s got a nice
personality’. So, it was with low-to-no expec-tations that we arrived in
New York’s Times Square last Thursday, having been told that we had a
couple of winners.
What we discovered was pleasantly surprising. Here was an industry
gloriously devoid of pretence, where the rivalry was friendly rather
than bitchy, and sincere congratulations were offered by winners and
For example, after winning best individual print for our Proof reader
recruitment ad, we were approached by another winner who said she
thought we should have won her category as well. (Right! You can see
that happening at the Grovesnor House Hotel.)
Most important, however, the work was, by and large, good - even if the
good work wasn’t always among the winners.
The Martin Agency (a name familiar to anyone with One Show an-nuals)
dominated TV with its work for Geico Auto Insurance. Geico also won gold
for best individual commercial. The spot features a man inspecting a
motor quote in the company of his dog. Suddenly the dog begins to
snigger. We are then treated to 15 seconds of an animatronic dog rolling
around the floor in hysterical laughter. ’Still paying too much for
motor insurance?’ reads the pay-off. ’Call Geico now on ...’. It’s
simple, has impact and is a refreshing reminder that DRTV doesn’t have
to have a bad actor, a complicated script and a phone number up
throughout to get results.
Just a good idea.
Paper-based direct marketing can be deathly dull and, in some
categories, the jury was right not to award any golds. Two pieces,
however, stuck in our minds - Hill Holiday’s mailing to IT managers on
behalf of FTP came in a three-foot box containing a lasso, with facts on
how FTP’s software could help you ’rope-in strays’ to your network.
And FCB Direct’s mailing for Religion in America, which, although
over-complicated, had a nice marketing idea in it. Under the headline,
’And now a word from our sponsors’ and showing pics of God, Moses,
Buddha and Jesus, was a CD containing six funny radio commercials for
DJs, asking them to fill spots with the free ideas. The result? Hundreds
of thousands of dollars of free airtime.
And now a word about the UK agencies. Craik Jones lifted a gold in the
courageous client category (yes, it is a great idea) with their ’blank
pack’ for the Independent, and TBWA Payne Stracey picked up two golds
for their work with Abbey Life and the AA.
Best in show went to a Florida client, Phoneworks, for a new-business
mailing: a FedEx package sent to marketing directors. Upon being opened,
by the PA, a wallet falls out with a yellow sticky attached saying
simply, ’I found your wallet.’
Inside is an identity card personalised with the marketing director’s
name, three dollars and a collection of newspaper clippings about the
agency. It even contains a packet of matches with the agency’s number
scribbled inside. It’s a great idea - as it was five years ago when
Craik Jones did it for Mercury. No wonder Pamela Craik wanted a few
Religion in America Six funny radio commercials were sent to DJs. ’The
result? Hundreds of thousands of dollars of free airtime’
Geico Auto Insurance ’It’s simple, has impact and is a refreshing
reminder that DRTV doesn’t have to have a bad actor and a phone number
Proof reader ’After winning best individual print, we were approached by
another winner who said we should have won her category as well’
The Independent ’Won a gold in the courageous client category (yes, it
is a great idea)’
Phoneworks ’Upon being opened, a wallet falls out ... It’s a great idea
-as it was five years ago when Craik Jones did it for Mercury’