The Caples Awards

Issue 29 | December 2013

Duncan Gray

Former Creative Leader, Proximity Worldwide and now Chief Creative Officer for Fenton Europe

The Caples Awards were founded in 1977 by the late, great Andi Emerson.

She was an amazing person - energetic, passionate, an evangelist for all things direct and I was fortunate to have known her for many years.

She set up the awards to honour the memory and the craft skills of the great John Caples. He was one of the most successful copywriters of all time and both he and Andi (who was also a copywriter) spent a large part of their careers at BBDO in New York. He was a pioneer of effective marketing, harnessing the power of persuasive copy to build brands and drive sales.

He is most well known for the famous headline “They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play....”, which, amazingly, was written in his first year in advertising.

He was also the author of “Tested Advertising Methods”, which was published in 1947 and is still essential reading for anyone in advertising today.

Andi believed that those traditional skills are as valuable now as they were in the pre-war years when Caples was in his pomp. But she also wanted any awards scheme that bore his name to recognise the importance of creativity in finding solutions to marketing problems.

When she founded The Caples Awards, the recipients were just the writers and art directors who had created the campaigns. Today, however, there may be as many as 20 different people who need to be credited for their parts in creating an award-winning campaign.

The Caples is a not-for-profit organisation and has always relied on support from the creative community, volunteering their time and services to help manage it.

I can assure you that Andi was a very persuasive person!

She passed away in 2008, aged 82, and was working on the awards only days before she died. In the last couple of years of her life, she tasked a few of us to secure the future of The Caples Awards and we were delighted when Haymarket (publishers of DM News in NYC) stepped

in and took over the running of the organisation.

They have done an amazing job, delivering the awards and Andi’s legacy.

I became involved with Caples first as a winner, then as a judge, but later as Proximity Worldwide Creative Leader I had a vested interest in the awards as a forum for both identifying top talent in direct marketing and as a showcase for the best of our own work. It was a show we took very seriously indeed.

For the last 8 years I have been a Caples Creative Committee member, offering help and advice as and where needed, recruiting judges from Europe and participating in the judging week.

We instituted the Andi Emerson Award to recognise the contributions of those people who have done most to advance understanding of and interest in direct communications. Andi was herself the first recipient.

Since then, I have been among those asked each year to recommend a worthy honoree of the award and have been happy to contribute my twopenny’worth.

Past winners have included such luminaries as Lester Wunderman, Alan Rosenspan, Drayton Bird, Ron Jacobs, Duncan Gray, Don E. Schultz and Rory Sutherland to name just a few.

Rory Sutherland has become direct marketing’s celebrity figure with his commitment to behavioural economics allied to a charming and fascinating stage presence at events like TED talks and other advertising conferences around the world.

And last year’s winner, Don E Schultz, is often referred to as “the father of integrated marketing”. For more than 20 years he has been a tireless proponent of redefining traditional concepts of marketing, advancing marketing theory and practices, and upgrading marketing education to meet the changing realities of a more connected, more customer-centric, and more measureable marketing environment.

2013 winner

It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to announce in the pages of Directory itself that the 2013 winner of the Andi Emerson Award is its editor, Patrick Collister.

I have been a subscriber since Issue One.

Directory really shows Patrick’s passion for response- driven communications. It is a true labour of love, as he is always moaning how it makes no money! It showcases the best international direct marketing from mail through to digitial, mobile, ambient, press and integrated and every agency in the world should subscribe.

(Couldn’t agree more! – Ed)

It provides practitioners of direct marketing with a quarterly map of new trends in direct marketing, key insights into new developments in their sectors, an update on competitive activity and is generally a source of inspiration as well as information. It’s also about encouraging work that is more thoughtful and more engaging.

The online archive contains downloadable copies of all the creative work ever featured in the magazine as well as additional features such as guest essays, awards round-ups and video interviews.

Why Patrick treads worthily in the footsteps of some of the industry’s greats is because he has been both anticipating and reporting on the changes to advertising with both passion and an unswerving commitment to the role of the creative idea as the critical element in any communications plan.

Yes, you can have great data, yes you can have a fascinating strategy, but if your letter, your email, your banner, your ad, your commercial or your activation is dull, unoriginal and uninspiring, then you are wasting your money.

Over the course of the last seven years, Directory has followed the development of what Patrick calls ‘indirect direct;’, brand-building advertising that has become measurable through the number of clicks, likes and shares the idea can accumulate. And while he has been as interested in this work as anyone, he has also remained true to ‘direct direct’ – the need for some communications to meet short term goals and sell stuff, NOW!

Transactional DM, transactional email. It’s bloody hard to do well and whenever anyone has managed to master these most difficult of disciplines, they have always found a page or two reserved for them in Directory.

Andi would have loved Patrick and the fact that he is the 2013 recipient of the Andi Emerson award for being passionate about everything direct.

And how more direct can you get than publishing a fantastic magazine, which you mail out around the world?

Congratulations Patrick. 

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