Campaign Report on Creative DM: The media factor - The best DM exploits the medium. Five leading creatives pick their favourites

Direct marketing has long suffered from a dreary image, defined by unreadable junk mail, double-glazing telephone salesmen and ’shouting man in a room’ TV campaigns. But now the industry has realised that to get better results it has to be more creative.

Direct marketing has long suffered from a dreary image, defined by

unreadable junk mail, double-glazing telephone salesmen and ’shouting

man in a room’ TV campaigns. But now the industry has realised that to

get better results it has to be more creative.

The method, however, depends on the medium. From the letter to the

internet, each imposes restrictions on the message. But, the best ads

turn these limitations into advantages, as this selection by five of the

industry’s leading creatives demonstrates.


Rory Sutherland, creative director at OgilvyOne, chooses Movie Critic, a

service which matches films based on your movie experiences, and Six

Degrees, a friends and interests website, as his all-time


He believes it’s their creative use of technology that makes them so

stimulating: ’Both sites use artificial intelligence to match

information. They are unlike most sites which are like a drunken snog -

short term, superficial and fun while it lasts, but with no long-term

satisfaction for either party.

’These sites, instead, offer the potential to build relationships. They

are pursuing a strategy for relationship-building, learning more about

us and anticipating many of those needs that personalisation will lead

to in longer-term relationships.

’Then, once the communication starts, as with a relationship, the more

you put into it the more you get out of it and the better it gets.’


For Bob Nash, creative director at WWAV Rapp Collins, this medium is

fully exploited when a visual signature, effective music and humour or

atmosphere come together.

Cable & Wireless’s recent campaigns by Rapier are ’great creatively

because they handle humour and charm, which are ideas that are very

difficult to realise,’ Nash says. ’They also blur the line between brand

and DRTV. They keep with the brand’s simplicity and clarity by the

distinctive use of yellow, the typeface and the tone of voice.’

TV is particularly suited to charities as it is an emotional medium,

Nash says. For Oxfam’s ’fish’, ’corn’ and ’water’ campaigns, his agency

used the warm hues of South Africa as a backdrop and a link between the

three campaigns. ’Music also played a key part because it helped turn

the path from establishing a need to a position of hope.’


Mike Cavers, creative director at Tequila Payne Stracey, believes the

best DR radio campaigns are memorable and establish a relationship with

the customer.

’Music and voice are fantastically strong ways to make people react, but

often brands become schizophrenic on the radio with people shouting.

Instead, radio should entertain and be true to the brand, like the Tango

’orange’ campaign, where people rang up to get a stupid orange


Cavers cites the Marie Curie ad as a powerful piece for telling a story

in just 60 seconds: ’It makes you really feel part of it.’

He thinks there is creative potential in local radio, and in using DR

radio as a flag for other media. ’When I was at Limbo we did two ads for

a Beefeater campaign. The first raised people’s awareness of a voucher

door drop. The second reminded people to use it.’


Direct mail, the classic direct marketing vehicle, is changing its


The hard-sell tactics are out while subtle brand campaigns are in.

Base Shoes’ ’Guide to London’, by Bean Andrews Norways Cramphorn, is a

perfect piece of new generation mail, says Simon Kershaw, creative

director at Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel.

Rather than overtly selling shoes, the magazine-style mailing covers

clubs, bars, drugs and prostitution. ’It’s very involving and


Its very soft-sell approach is almost like PR. Everything, including the

monochrome with gold photography, reflects the attitude of the


Kershaw also admires Virgin Direct’s life insurance mailing by BBH

Unlimited, formerly Limbo, for livening up the insurance market. ’The

mailing uses simple and bold colour and images. However, it still treats

you with a degree of intelligence.’


When budgets are big enough to spend lavishly on highly targeted,

low-volume mailings, gems can be created. For Andy Blackford, the former

creative director at Joshua, two examples stand out: ’gold book’ for the

More Group and ’aspects of colour’ for the paper company, GF Smith. Both

of these exploit the medium and appeal to their target audience.

The former is a book of poster campaigns, with simple gold lines and a

subtle logo. ’It’s an invitation to design posters and sketch ideas for

clients. I’m loath to draw in mine as it is so lovely.’

The second promotes various paper by celebrating colour. ’Clearly the

company knows that paper looks best when there is something on it. It is

a very lush thing, if not slightly pretentious, with beautiful colour,

typography and extracts about artists’ use of colour.’

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