A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine Campaign
devoting 12 pages to direct communications, as happens this week, or any
ad agency cutting off its right arm for the honour of appearing in such
The advertising establishment has not taken direct mail seriously and
has persisted in treating its practitioners as second-class
And yet direct communications are the secret weapon in many successful
campaigns - think Tango, Orange, Daewoo, Land Rover and Heinz.
Putting direct communications into the wider context of marketing shows
that its incredible growth is driven by four things. First, the falling
cost of data processing means vast amounts of data can be processed
quickly and cheaply using idiot-proof software; second, there is a new
generation of loyalty cards and smart cards that allow clients to engage
in direct conversation with their customers; third, more than half of UK
households are now on lifestyle databases; fourth, the rise of new media
such as video-on-demand and digital TV has created new ways of reaching
and targeting customers.
These factors are not helped by those direct marketers who are still
engaged in an unappealing numbers game - contacting huge volumes of
consumers cold with aggressive mailings and hoping for a response.
What direct marketing campaigns have too often lacked is the flash of
brilliance of ’traditional’ advertising. But this is changing, hence the
award of Marketer of the Year to Patrick Farrell whose UK launch
campaign for Daewoo politely tapped the public on the shoulder instead
of seizing it by the collar.
The Campaign Direct Awards show that direct communications can be
creative, rewarding and brand-building. On the evidence of the work
produced by Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray, and the campaigns produced
by Saatchi and Saatchi for the Army and Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters for
Daewoo, who can argue otherwise?