Up-and-coming agencies are doing much to push forward creativity in direct marketing.


Client: ActionAid

Agency: Watson Phillips & Norman

Distribution: September

Medium: DRTV

Watson Phillips & Norman launched in January and is already building a reputation for its direct response TV work. It is not altogether surprising - John Watson was co-founder of WWAV Rapp Collins, the UK's biggest producer of DRTV ads, while Maria Phillips was WWAV's executive creative director.

ActionAid head of fundraising Joanne Smith says the charity first tried TV advertising five years ago, but the ads were not that successful.

So this summer Phillips decamped with a camera crew to Mozambique. "Normally with DRTV you have script, casting and location agreed before the shoot," she says. "Setting it in a remote child sponsorship village meant it was impossible to finalise anything." The 90-second film was built around a child called Rosa. The ad ran: 'Just like any other child, she's never still - because she has to walk miles every day for fresh water. She's always making new friends - because so many of her old friends die young'.

"We have had a promising response," says Smith.


Client: National Blood Service

Agency: Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw

Distribution: Throughout 2003

Size of mailing: Up to 700,000

Kitcatt Nohr won the blood service account in 2002. Initial mailings targeted existing donors, using gentle humour to encourage them to give blood at times of peak demand or when supplies tailed off.

There is a constant need, though, to find new donors. In lifestyle surveys, many people have said they would be happy to donate blood, but never got around to it. They are now the target of a major campaign.

Here the tone is more emotional. The mailings tie in closely with the well-known TV ads from Delaney Lund Knox Warren, which urge 'Do something wonderful - give blood, save a life'. While the TV campaign features well-known personalities who have benefited from the service, the direct marketing focuses on ordinary people.

"This is true integration," says creative director Simon Robinson. "We can take the above-the-line positioning and build more of a person-to-person link."

Two treatments are being tested, one with a case study and covering letter from the blood service, one from the person in the case study whose life was saved. "In my experience there is nothing more powerful than a direct appeal from the individual," Robinson adds.

National Blood Service's DM manager, Graham Brown, says the direct marketing creative complements the TV advertising.


Client: Midland Expressway

Agency: DLKW Dialogue

Distribution: Mid-November

Size of mailing: 5000

It could cure an elephant-sized headache, but it would take an elephant to swallow it. The giant pill arrives packaged like many modern medicines: in a clear plastic shell with a rip-off foil backing.

But the 'pill' turns out to be a stress ball. The message is that the headache could be cured by the imminent opening in January of the M6 toll road, operated by Midland Expressway. The motorway arcs north-east of Birmingham, between junctions 4 and 11 of the existing route. Journey times could be cut by up to 45 minutes.

The mailing is part of an integrated campaign by DLKW Dialogue's parent agency, Delaney Lund Knox Warren, with the theme 'Fast, effective relief'.

Drivers on the M6 have been exposed to the message on the Fort Dunlop poster site, which is the size of two football pitches. The campaign includes radio and print.

Dialogue launched as the group's digital communications arm in 2001, but has added direct marketing and sales promotion to its offering.

Leonardo founder Steve Barton joined the agency as chief executive this autumn to develop it further.


Client: WH Smith

Agency: Diametric

Distribution: October/November

Size of mailing: A million each month

Two years ago, WH Smith's Clubcard loyalty scheme was on a downward spiral. The retailer turned to a young targeted marketing shop, Diametric, for help, its clinching feature perhaps the fact that the agency's founder, Robert Diamond, was formerly managing director of Wunderman's consulting arm.

Diametric is one of a new breed of agencies, similar to Liquid Communications, that use outside creatives and focus on strategic thinking.

"We were asked to evaluate strengths and weaknesses, and identify some pilot programmes," says Diamond. "The second step was to prove through pilot projects that we could engage customers, suppliers and the stores, and demonstrate the case for increasing its scope."

The agency's work led to Clubcard's formal relaunch in October. Richard Howe, previously in charge of the card scheme, now the retail group's controller of new media, says: "The Clubcard will now deliver a lot more to the business, following a series of very successful test mailings over the past 12 months."

These led to WH Smith mailing a million customers in October, with encouraging results. "We mailed a million of our best customers again in November, rewarding them with bonus point offerings," says Howe.


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