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
It’s about the impact on the reader, not just what the pack looks like
or how many creative awards it wins.
THE ORANGE SPIDER
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!
NATIONAL BLOOD SERVICE
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
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.
FIRST DIRECT - ISA
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.