Campaign Report on Creative DM: Client’s choice - It’s not just the creativity of a mail pack but its ability to move the recipient that counts, Lyssa Elster says. Here she describes some mailings that did it for her

I’ve been responsible for many packs which I’ve judged as creative only to find they bomb or cannot outperform the banker pack, which usually consists of an uninspiring A4 letter in a plain envelope.

I’ve been responsible for many packs which I’ve judged as creative

only to find they bomb or cannot outperform the banker pack, which

usually consists of an uninspiring A4 letter in a plain envelope.

I believe that the only real yardstick of creativity in direct marketing

is the effect on the current, potential and future relationship the

customer has with the organisation - measured in terms of customer

lifetime profitability.

It’s about the impact on the reader, not just what the pack looks like

or how many creative awards it wins.


The impact of a business-to-business mailing from the Orange Spider was

to make me smile. Receiving a two-foot-long black envelope in my in-tray

certainly guaranteed my attention. I was intrigued to find inside a

beautifully produced, glittery red fish called the Orange Spider, a

production company positioning itself as a ’different animal’.

During the next two weeks I received a scaled-down version of the

original with the message: ’Gutted! I really thought you would have

taken the bait by now.’ The personality of the original pack carried

through to the follow-up.

When it was followed up by a telephone call asking if I had received my

fish, I just had to take the call. The personality established by the

packs carried through in the approach on the telephone. The packs and

telephone call were fun and clearly demonstrated the proposition that

the company can fulfil unconventional production requirements.

The creativity was not just in the execution of the pack, but in the

consistency of the approach and personality in the timing and follow


PS: It’s a red herring!


In contrast, here’s an A4 letter and a simple leaflet in a plain

envelope, but the response it evoked was tremendous. It’s a relationship

marketer’s dream to hear the reader of his or her pack say out loud: ’I

feel special.’

Giving blood is not glamorous and not much fun, but this pack creatively

balances giving blood as something of vital importance but not scary,

something amazing but realistic, with a hint of a smile.

The letter opens: ’Thank you for doing something amazing’ and goes on to

introduce the new donor card attached to the letter. The card colour

indicates how many times blood has been given and the enclosed brochure

shows what each colour means. With this mailing, I’m sure the response

to the call to give blood will be fully supported.

Retaining customers rather than having the cost of finding new ones is

also important to the National Blood Service. The injection of a ’smile’

was introduced with the theme, ’Eight reasons to put your feet up’

(after giving blood), which related to the eight different-coloured

donor cards awarded according to the number of blood donations. This

card will win much sought-after purse space with the words, ’I do

something amazing, I give blood’.

As a loyalty scheme, the tone is pitched perfectly to suggest the kudos

of moving up the colours to a purple card for 100-plus donations,

balancing the important role of those donors with a red card for those

who have only given up to four times.

This pack was sent to my husband and, as the secondary reader and

someone who’s never given blood, it was a great acquisition tool. If

it’s a fight in my wallet for a Platinum Credit Card or any colour donor

card, I know which would win.


The creative process from brief to mailing must have been fun for this

Freelander piece. No envelope, no letter, no brochure, no great offer,

but a very creative pack in terms of the idea and the execution.

Take one box of pain relief tablets and turn it into a mailing inviting

people to test-drive the Freelander. As the box says, ’Fast, active

relief from the humdrum.’ Each element of the pack is thereby associated

with a box of pain relief tablets.

The invitation for a test-drive was presented in a Z-fold-out within two

pill-shaped covers that you had to press through a foil-backed carrier,

just as you pop out a tablet. The letter element was presented in the

format of customer information found in the pack with the pills.

I applaud the production of this pack. The danger is that the idea is

too powerful and becomes the hero of the pack rather than moving the

customer to action.


In the run-up to the launch of ISAs, I received numerous letters and

leaflets from financial companies inviting me to open an ISA. First

Direct’s approach was fresh, focused, took me by my hand and led me

through the ISA maze.

The letter copy tells the story concisely and states the salient facts

the customer needs to know. It positions the ISA as ’one of life’s

essentials’ and injects just the right amount of fear into not having

one. Interestingly, this simplicity is the dominant factor, rather than

the financial returns it will generate - the question of financial

performance being answered in a simple flyer describing the Unit Trust

invested in as an ’award winner’.

The message was supported by images that tell the story in four stages,

from a plate of baked beans opening the story as ’deliciously simple’ to

the glass of water comparing ISAs to ’another of life’s essentials’.

Images that stayed with me after I read the pack.

The pack is kept clear of financial clutter and left me feeling I need

to take out an ISA. With First Direct as my bank, and having talked my

language, I’ll consider it as a potential supplier.

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