Having spent over three decades in the creative services industry, I have a small confession to make: I have yet to go the DMA Awards.
However, a quick glance through some of this year’s winners has convinced me of the breadth of activity the direct and digital marketing industries cover.
On the outside, far too many people still view direct marketing as direct mail, but the DMA Awards blow this theory right out of the water. These creative solutions have led to some of the most impressive campaigns I have seen during my years in the business.
The 2015 grand prix winner is a case in point, and uses a range of techniques to get its message across. The brief was a tough one: subscriptions for The Economist had plateaued, its traditional positioning had lost it appeal to millennials, and the publication’s core prospect base was rejecting it as a “handbook for the corporate elite”. With this in mind, Proximity London devised a well thought-out campaign, under the premise “There is nothing more provocative than the truth”. By using The Economist’s characteristic wit, it produced more than 60 headlines for online ads, many were written in near realtime, from The Economist’s live newsroom and editorial meetings, as major stories broke.
The ads were built to match page context and viewer profiles to thousands of articles, infographics and reports. The campaign then pushed readers to register and subscribe, delivering content in sequence to prospects, and learning which topics, in which order, generated the warmest prospects.
Despite being fraught with potential deployment challenges, the campaign was brilliantly executed. An amazing achievement to be able to offer a quality opinion so quickly. The results were equally amazing, too; smashing the 650,000-prospect target to deliver 3,617,000 new prospects and £12.7m value from a £1.2m media budget.
Next up is the business-to-business category and a challenge many would wince at. How do you rescue a brand which is perceived as not so much “last year”, but “last century”? It is fair to say Royal Mail has its issues. In these days of instant messaging, email and social media, how do you convince brand owners of the power of “snail mail”?
Backed by research, direct mail has undergone a makeover even Gok Wan would be proud of. When I think of how Royal Mail used to be seen, I think Publicis Chemistry has performed a small miracle.
The use of industry figures, both on the agency and client side, supported by consumer evidence in The Private Life of Mail study, has proved a powerful combination for Royal Mail MarketReach.
Using a mix of direct mail, outdoor, and online ads, the resultant campaign positions the company as an innovative, driven business which has a determination to help brands reach their target market and give them a complete picture of the potential of the mail medium. It not only broke down negative perceptions of advertising mail, by making the medium acceptable again, it ultimately helped drive a 5% increase in UK mail volumes – claimed to be the best mail industry performance in Europe.
Finally, the retail category, not exactly renowned for its use of direct marketing; price promotions and instore activity are usually the weapons of choice.
But for The Outnet, which had ambitious growth targets, a different approach was required. The company, which specialises in previous season fashion at a discount, is an outsider in the elite fashion world.
To attract women who love fashion, the company needed to make its mark as an innovative fashion player, but did not have the mega bucks required to muscle in on London Fashion Week.
Instead its agency, Leo Burnett London, created a stand-out experiential idea that suited The Outnet’s positioning as the “happy hunting ground of the style huntress” through the character Sergio the Shoe Hunter.
Lacking invitations into the shows, the team focused on the drama and style action outside, around the attendees, developing a social media-friendly concept that would appeal to fashion influencers as well as shoppers.
In doing so, the campaign drew more social mentions than Vogue, with huge levels of unpaid coverage from top models, editors, bloggers and influencers.
I always think if you’ve made someone laugh then you’ve connected with them and this made me laugh. Simple and very imaginative, just like so many of the very best ideas.
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