Campaign asked Gary Sharpen and John Townshend to create a campaign
to sell the medium of direct marketing using only that medium. Both
creative directors worked to exactly the same brief.
Leonardo's Sharpen decided to go paperless, focusing on debate conducted
via SMS and e-mail, while Rapier's Townshend makes the most of DM's
ability to interact offline with a surprise element - washable ink. The
huge difference in interpretation of the brief demonstrates just how far
DM can cast its net to appeal to the widest possible audience.
DISCOVERY THROUGH DEBATE
We target Campaign readers because they are market influencers. Many
don't recognise a difference between direct mail and direct
They do, however, get excited and evangelise when they discover new ways
to express creativity.
Our challenge is to help them discover the difference between a
technique and what a direct marketing approach actually brings to
communications: personalisation, innovation, fun and efficiency.
Our creative idea is a question and a challenge: "Direct marketing
doesn't work. Agree? Disagree?"
This is communicated through e-mail and SMS - media that bring
to life the innovation and response-mechanism that is synonymous with
direct. We would track down these digital addresses via offline and
online research. We omit direct mail as it reinforces negative
preconceptions. The call to action asks: "Want to know what others are
saying?" This opens a dialogue and avoids wasting time on those who
Respondents get a bounce-back message showing a real-time tally of
results so far and an invitation to answer additional, compelling
questions. Our message is tailored to those who answered "agree" or
"disagree". We point out to those who agreed it "doesn't work" that they
are actually participating in direct marketing. We would also hope to
allow comparison between answers from luminaries such as Trevor Beattie
and Michael Baulk.
The best way to learn new behaviour is to sample and then repeat that
behaviour. We believe this campaign will invite the discovery of the
power of direct marketing, because we all love to know how our opinions
stack up against others.
- Gary Sharpen is the creative director at Leonardo
NOW WASH YOUR HANDS
"Shit that folds," someone once said about direct marketing. But if
you're an average sort of person (and let's face it luv, aren't we
all?), you'll have received enough nonsense through your letterbox to
know what they mean.
However, you could also argue that 90 per cent of TV commercials are
shit that moves. (I'm thinking cars, tornados, shampoo molecules,
indie-soundtracked idea-free lifestyle ads). Or how about press? Flat
Or radio? Well, a large proportion of, er ... just shit.
Appropriately handled, a communication in any medium can be powerful,
efficient and a pleasure to create. Work is at its best when the idea
could only work in the medium which it appears.
For instance, only television could tell a joke such as the John West
ads. Only posters can capture your attention across a crowded city. And
only direct marketing can get into your hands, clear its throat and
politely ask you to have a think about things.
The problem traditionally, I'd suggest, is that DM has largely been
created by technicians - boffins who could uplift response with the
flick of the wrist. Hard-bitten pioneers, these are the chaps who'll
tell you the size of your letter really does matter.
That there's nothing like a well-stuffed envelope.
A bit like the days of advertising before Bill Bernbach arrived.
But things are beginning to change. Direct is coming out of the ghetto
and becoming part of all good strategic thinking, and the most
The brighter creative people, such as the guys at Mother or
KesselsKramer, have already shown how traditional ad agencies can open
their minds with 3D ideas for Britart, or the famous Hans Brinker
And the best creatives in the direct world have for years been providing
businesslike but beautiful work, for brands such as Land Rover, Vodafone
Rapier's own work to sell DM in this instance uses direct mail and
washable removable ink. The recipient would open the envelope and find
their hands covered in ink. Whether this caused disgust or delight would
be up to the individual, but the message inside would say: "An ad can
ask you to use soap. Direct marketing can make you."
This capitalises on the tangibility of a piece of direct mail and points
to a new direction - the genuine integration of "direct" expertise with
And in purely creative terms, the medium of direct mail is one that lets
us have all sorts of fun. We've sent people flip books, playing cards,
scratchcards and wageslips. All touchy-feely, interactive things that,
used well, can bring an idea to life and engage the recipient.
- John Townshend is the creative director at Rapier.