Cannes: Heapps on judging dm

Great work. You know it when you see it. But really, we all have a personal filter; a list of criteria that great work must meet. Direct response creative, which I'm talking about here, is a different creative animal - it's accountable. It starts with a business goal and develops a solution that delivers real results that move clients' businesses. Did I also mention award-winning? It's a tall order.

Here are the criteria I use, consciously or otherwise, when reviewing work:

IT MADE ME FEEL. Brands deliver promises. As direct marketers, we have the opportunity to turn those promises into brand experiences. People can "touch and feel" the brand in a way that other advertising disciplines can't provide. Our discipline may be filled with postcards, self-mailers and e-mails, but even within such serviceable formats, there lies an opportunity to create butterflies, a smile or even a memory.

IT IS SIMPLE. I have always believed that the best ideas are the ones that are brilliant in their simplicity. You know a great idea the instant it's in front of you.

IT IS BIGGER THAN IT LOOKS. Great ideas are big ideas. When you see one, you immediately see ways of interpreting, demonstrating, and extending it across numerous communications channels. Direct response does not only mean direct mail. As long as you are asking for a response and can measure the results, it is direct. The fact is, direct response creative continues to evolve as we speak. With interactive and guerilla advertising, the most unexpected places are delivering messages that intercept, not interrupt people.

IT BEGS TO BE SHARED. Great creative work is the kind you'd be proud to share because it surprises, disarms or delights. It lives beyond the awards.

But even after you meet all the criteria I've mentioned and all the boxes are checked, evaluating creative comes down to ENVY. It's the "oh, I wish I thought of that" feeling you get when you look at something. Once I understand the challenge, the brief and the creative solution, the award-winning work will stand out and make me feel like my best is yet to come.


This was a guerilla direct response campaign that our Singapore office created for Clear Path International - an organisation that provides medical and social services to landmine survivors and their families. Although a pressing issue, the general public finds it difficult to relate to, let alone embrace as a cause.

So how do you jolt people into reality? Imagine this scenario: Frisbees that look like landmines were distributed in parks, streets and other public areas throughout Singapore. When people picked up one of the frisbees and flipped it over, it simply read: YOU'RE DEAD. There was a call-to-action to go online to learn more and ideally, make a contribution. The minute you saw this, you knew it was an idea with impact.

This is a powerful example of how creating an emotional experience can drive behaviour. What I absolutely love is that it went beyond the traditional, with a solution that had enormous stopping power, out-of-the-box creativity - and successfully drove people to the website. And it was buzz-generating, a metric that is hard to quantify, yet has a huge impact in creating awareness.

This is the kind of idea that made me say, the minute I saw it: "Wow, I wish I thought of that."

- Rachael Heapps is responsible for the strategic direction of Rapp Collins' creative services in North America, overseeing the agency's creative teams in offices in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles.