DMA slams CAP views on use of handwriting

The Direct Marketing Association's Agencies Council may be heading

for a row with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) over a set of

creative guidelines published for direct marketing agencies.

The DMA's Agencies Council, led by new chairman David Poole, is

concerned about a section in a help note issued by the CAP recommending

that restrictions be placed on agencies which use handwritten text or

postage stamps on envelopes as part of their creative treatment.

The council is concerned that the recommendation will see the end of

some of the most creative direct mail.

The guidelines, which have been drawn up by the CAP's copy advice team

in consultation with the DMA, are used by the ASA Council when ruling on

direct mail complaints. The DMA's Agency Council is concerned because

agencies and clients that are DMA members are bound by the guidelines,

while non-member agencies are not.

The section of the guidance to which the Agency Council objects

addresses 'advertisers who use handwritten text, handwritten-style

printed text, postage stamps or other devices', and reads: '...

consumers often associate (this sort of) text with social correspondence

(and advertisers) should ensure that envel-opes contain an indication

that the content is commercial correspondence.'

The help note recommends that such envelopes include the name of the

advertiser or carry the statement 'contains commercial material'.

Some of the most creative direct mail of recent years, including

award-winning campaigns for Land Rover and Vodafone, used handwritten

addresses and stamps.

Poole, who is also the chairman of the direct agency DP&A, said: 'The

best direct mail makes the message as personal as possible. There is

friction between what the CAP is trying to achieve and what our industry

is doing to improve standards.'

Colin Lloyd, the chief executive of the DMA, said: 'It is up to us to go

back to the CAP. Our legal director should be properly briefed to take

the argument back to them.'

However, Poole says that the Agencies Council will formulate a separate

response to the CAP in the coming weeks.

Poole has just been elected chairman of the Agencies Council by the DMA

Committee, replacing Chris Lovell. Louise Wall, the managing director of

ehsrealtime, was elected vice-chairman.

Other sections of the CAP help note, which was issued last year, include

guidance on envelopes containing misleading claims on prize draws or

ambiguous claims relating to the importance of opening an envelope.