DIRECT MARKETING: SELLING DIRECT - Two creative directors present some examples of how they would sell the medium of direct marketing through the medium itself

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.


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

aren't interested.

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


"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

interesting campaigns.

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

and Audi.

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

advertising flair.

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.


Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a member

What is Campaign AI?

Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content