Direct Mail at Cannes 2012

Issue 24 | September 2012

There were 2,357 entries in the Direct category and 227 campaigns made it to the shortlist. Or 10% of the total number of submissions.

1 Grand Prix was awarded, plus 15 Golds, 25 Silvers and 44 Bronzes. 37% of the shortlist won a Lion.

Just over 10% of the shortlist comprised Direct Mail. And of the 24 shortlisted Mail campaigns, 3 won Silver and 8 won Bronze, or 45% of those shortlisted.

What this tells us is, as if you didn’t know, is that Direct has been transformed as a category. What was once a relatively small and relatively simple discipline has become complex and multi-channelled.

Arguably, almost all marketing communications today is Direct.

The effect of this is to make winning awards for the original Direct medium harder by the year.

Over ten years ago, Harrison Troughton Wunderman won the first Cannes Direct Grand Prix with a mailing for the AA.

In 2006,  Brussels agency I DO won the Grand Prix with “Need A Job” for De Tijd.

In 2008 three Golds went to campaigns with Mail as a major component –

Lowe Bangkok’s “Tee-Shirt” for Unilever’s Breeze;

The Communications Agency’s “Bob Monkhouse” work for the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation;

JWT London’s “Four Continents Capital Management” campaign for MTV’s Anti-Slavery drive.

But in 2009, there were no Golds for Mail.

In 2010, hurrah, there were two, Bang & Olufsen’s Annual Report from serviceplan (who also won the 2012 Design Grand Prix for Austrian Solar’s Annual report) and Grey Vancouver’s Cardboard Record Player for GRRP Sound Design.

In 2011, no Golds. But two Silvers and two Bronzes, including Lukas Lindemann Rosinski’s ‘Sprinter Applies for A Job’ for Mercedes and Duval Guillaume’s ‘Crying Invoice’ for USG People.

Comparatively, then, the 2012 jury was kinder to Mail than several of its predecessors.

What is happening is that there are fewer campaigns with Mail as the lead medium but more where it plays an important role in an integrated mix.

MJ Bale’s ‘Grazed on Greatness’, for instance, where Mail was used to target journalists and generate column inches for the idea; and to get top customers involved.

Around the world Postal Services are realising that selling Mail as a solus medium will get them nowhere. In tandem with other media, it can make a lot of sense.

Many direct marketers see the Cannes winners and scoff at the tiny number of mailings in the winning campaigns but in doing so they miss the point. MJ Bale’s mailing to just dozens of journalists helped them reach an audience of millions.That was Mail and PR.

BMW’s Christmas card went to 5,000 but led to a hundred times that number of YouTube views of the video. That was an instance of Mail and digital.

Over the next 14 pages we have reproduced a selection of this year’s shortlisted ideas. Together they show that Mail has a great future – as part of a whole rather than as the whole itself.

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