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Editorial
 

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Issue 2 | February 2007

Welcome back to Directory, if you got your hands on Issue 1, or a plain welcome if you are a new reader. The idea behind the publication is to showcase the best of the world's direct marketing and provide a source of inspiration to both clients and agency folk.

A lot of DM is pretty dreary. It doesn't have to be - as the campaigns we've selected for Issue 2 make plain. The brilliant thing about direct marketing is that it isn't broadcast advertising. In other words, you can identify discrete audiences and talk to them specifically. You don't have to pay a bundle on a message that goes to millions who aren't interested. So I make no apologies for some of the ideas we have chosen - and will continue to choose - which look as if they may have been targeted at a tiny, weeny list.

Open the box

Michael Johnson, inspirational founder of design company Johnson Banks, has only ever created one mail-shot. It was a piece to attract donors to help finance the new wing at the Tate Gallery.

Michael designed a box, which, as you opened it, folded out into an architectural model of the intended galleries. It cost a lot and was sent to barely one hundred people. It elicited just two responses. One enclosed a cheque for £25,000, which just about covered the costs of the mailing. The second was a donation for £25m.

I suspect that many direct marketers think of DM in broadcast terms. Nick Smith, when he was running the Alliance + Leicester programmes, admitted to nearly one billion inserts in a single year. With numbers like this, the creative issues are largely about cost. Make it as cheap as possible. Forget production values, forget charm and style. Just get the message under as many noses as possible and hope for a 0.2% response for kerchingggg and a good bonus.

Up our own backsides

So, as well as a number of emails and calls congratulating us on Issue 1 (thanks, Mum), we also got a couple of less flattering reflections. A showcase for creative luvvies was the general theme. Detached from the realities of direct marketing, was another. If only we could all do pro bono work every day and make mailings to send out to our mates, was one comment.

Ouch.

It's true, there were several self-promotional pieces in Issue 1. TBWA\Whybin's Christmas card and Mortierbrigade's viral using the Zinedine Zidane headbut spring to mind. And yes, there was an idea for a London florist and another for a coffee shop. But there was also work for a couple of banks - first direct and ANZ Bank. And campaigns for Vodafone and the BBC.

This issue has clever work for Audi, Skoda and Mercedes. Vodafone and Sony have ideas here as do Eurostar and the British Army. In Asia Pacific, both Guinness and Tooheys are building their brands using direct marketing at the heart of integrated campaigns and we have glimpses into both those brands' strategies. Serious brands. Serious strategies.

So we're not about celebrating creative self-indulgence. We're about showing how direct marketing is evolving, becoming more important to marketers and attracting greater investment. Why? Because it works.

Oh all right, there's a great campaign for a hairdresser and another for a Hong Kong pet shop too. But how does a shop become a store and a store become a chain? By having a good product and by knowing who to tell the story to and how.

The fact is, ingenious little ideas have a habit of becoming hard-working bigger ideas when they are taken up by bigger advertisers and adapted to their particular needs. For instance, the 3 Video Calling campaign might stimulate someone somewhere into using 3G technology in a similar way. It is curious how little the cellphone is used as a medium.

We're pleased that we've been able to include as much direct mail as we have in Issue 2. It's such an intimate way of talking to people, the good old fashioned letter. It will never be supplanted by the email. Though on that subject, Eurostar's 'Spam' email tickled us pink.

We're used to lasered mailers with the recipient's name plastered everywhere, but Microsoft have taken personalisation an inch further by sending each individual a photo of their business from the air.

You'll choose your own favourites from the 42 ideas within. Mine are 'Dad's Pack' for XXXX from BMF, based on such a neat little insight that when there's a new baby, all the attention is directed at Mum and Dad could probably do with a drink; and 'Blood Box' for the Australian Red Cross from M&C Saatchi, Sydney.

Those two agencies were first and second respectively in Australia's DM Agency of the Year league. They'd top any similar league in just about any country in the world. The work Dylan Taylor's been coaxing out of BMF and Dave King from M&C is both innovative and effective.

What is it about Australia? Why is the work coming out from down under so brilliant? Issue 3 will look for answers. If you want to offer any opinions and/or send us some work for inclusion, please don't hold back. Get in touch with us at [email protected].

Pip pip.

Patrick Collister

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