Australia's M&C Saatchi Wins Diamond Echo for Bank Campaign

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ORLANDO, FL -- M&C Saatchi in Melbourne, Australia, claimed the Direct Marketing Association's Diamond International Echo Award yesterday for client ANZ Bank, bolstering the belief that the industry's top honor is now the preserve of foreign agencies.


The agency replaces last year's winner, Spanish agency and BBDO affiliate CP Interactive of Madrid. But don't feel sorry. Sibling CP Comunicacion Proximity, also in Madrid and the 2001 Diamond Echo winner, is this year's recipient of the USPS Gold Mailbox Echo for client CEPSA.


"Direct marketing awards are prizes for results. Therefore, if we introduce programs looking for results, awards come along," said Pablo Alzugaray, CEO of CP Comunicacion Proximity. "There is a huge difference with traditional advertising, where awards are given to a campaign's creative values independently from their commercial results. To understand this difference is the difference."


M&C Saatchi got that right. Using database analysis and profiling, the agency selected 16 distinct segments to target for a direct mail campaign pushing an ANZ home loan. The audience was an existing base of ANZ customers without an ANZ home loan, or basically those with only an ANZ credit card.


Television and press began the effort to generate leads from the broad market. Mail followed six weeks later with offers specific to situations or needs. One offer was a zero loan application fee for targets identified as having a home loan with another bank.


But the majority of direct mail pushed two offers. One was gift vouchers totaling Australian $101 (U.S. $69) -- linked with the theme of 101 reasons -- when the target was approved for a home loan. The other was entry into a prize drawing for a Bose home stereo system.


In a humorous vein, the campaign tagline and theme was, "Change your home to suit your life." The overall marketing strategy aimed to create an emotional attachment between ANZ and prospective homeowners.


So the idea was that prospects should not have to change their life to suit their living conditions. But they should change their home to suit their life. For example, one execution of creative shows a child wearing a crash helmet as he swings into a narrow space. Another shows someone opening a window to make a billiard shot.


The mail piece was timed to land a month before the peak buying activity that occurs each year in the home loan property market in Australia.


If the claimed results are any indication, the campaign worked. ANZ, also based in Melbourne, saw an 83 percent year-on-year rise in the number of calls to its homebuyers' line. There was a 3 percent lift in home loan applications and a 47 percent jump in campaign recognition.


All in all, the direct mail campaign resulted in 4,922 new ANZ home loan accounts or mortgages with a conversion rate of 6 percent.


CP Comunicacion Proximity won the USPS Gold Mailbox Echo for best use of direct mail by drawing a 100 percent attendance for its client CEPSA's seminar.


CEPSA, a Madrid-based petroleum products company, has a division that distributes fuel for residential buildings' heating and hot water supply. But fuel for heating is nearly the same, with little brand differentiation, so it is tough to generate loyalty with property administrators on grounds other than price.


To create loyalty, the agency first sent a formal invitation via mail with the seminar date and agenda. The weeklong seminar's venue was Vietnam, hence the dragon theme. The next day, the same list received another mailing. Much more lavish, the mail piece sought to reinforce the interest of those thinking of attending.


On day four, the same audience was called to confirm their attendance. Other key data for their participation on the trip was collected, too.


The campaign worked. All the invited guests attended the seminar, and the invited administrators signed supply contracts for the year that were 28 percent higher than the year before.


DraftWorldwide New York, now Draft New York, won the Henry Hoke Echo for the campaign with the most courageous solution to a difficult sales and marketing program. The honor was for its work on the Cuervo.com effort for tequila maker Jose Cuervo International in New York.


The agency redesigned Cuervo.com to reflect Cuervo's offline repositioning, including that of the flagship Cuervo Especial tequila. The brand strategy was to move Especial's positioning from the shot-mentality party catalyst to the cocktail-drinking social liberator.


Applying the same logic online with product, heritage and enthusiast segmentation, Draft helped Cuervo to add older, more refined tequila consumers.


This year's Echo Digital Award went to MRM Partners New York for the campaign that best applied new technology to execute proven direct marketing principles. The client was Procter & Gamble Co.'s Tremor subsidiary for the Tremor online recruiting campaign.


"The challenge our campaign addressed was to crack the code on how to connect with teens -- a marketing-savvy target in a media-cluttered landscape -- and motivate them to take action," said Amanda Richman, vice president and account director at MRM. "Through an 'anti-advertising' approach, the campaign connected with their desire for empowerment, to voice their opinion as a marketing partner, not just a marketing target."


Overall, 57 agencies -- individual offices submitting entries -- this year won from a field of 1,034 entries, down from last year's 1,113. Entries from foreign agencies were a tad higher, 511, versus last year's 503. U.S. agencies clearly have cut back on participation.


In keeping with the lower turnout, fewer Echo awards were handed out. Of the 74 awards, 13 were gold, 30 silver and 31 bronze. Last year, 83 prizes were given away. The United States took home the most: 28 (four gold, 13 silver and 11 bronze). But its tally was down from 38 last year.


British agencies topped the international list with nine Echo prizes -- one gold, three silver and five bronze. Australia bagged six, Spain five, Austria four and Norway and Brazil three each. Argentina, Canada, Denmark, Germany, India and New Zealand each won two. Ireland, Singapore, South Africa and the Philippines each took home one Echo.


In another departure, this year's Echo awards at the DMA's 86th Annual Conference & Exhibition were presented at a brunch. The ceremony usually is held in the evenings, but the DMA found that it competed with other evening events.


"We're making it a bit more accessible to the attendees and making it a part of the conference," said Christina Duffney, director of corporate communications at the DMA. "It's something we're testing this year."


Agencies are in for more attention next year when they get their own pavilion at the annual conference. Direct response broadcast received its own pavilion this year.


The Echo awards are judged on response results, marketing strategy and creative. The jury consists of industry executives who sometimes leave enthused after judging entries and sometimes disappointed.


Holly Pavlika, a veteran of Echo and Caples judging and executive vice president and executive creative director at Grey Direct, New York, thought entrants often forget that form matters as much as substance in this business.


"I've kind of figured out what it takes to win, and a lot of it has to do with the entry write-up and how you present the 'Ah-ha' solution," she said.


David Shavrick, vice president and executive creative director at interactive agency Modem Media, East Norwalk, CT, had his own peeve. He was disappointed with the automotive and financial services entries he judged.


"The quality of the work was very mixed," he said. "Often the concept and scale of a program was significant, yet the execution was weak and spotty. On the other hand, some work had very high production values and yet the concept was poor. I didn't see any breakthrough ideas."


Moreover, Shavrick was shocked by how few entries used online components.


"Many of the entries I reviewed still relied on printed forms for data capture," he said. "I doubt a CEO receiving a brochure from, say, Audi or Jaguar wants to schedule a test drive by mailing a form and waiting for a response. He'd much prefer to go online, choose from a list of available dates and get an instant confirmation. Integrating online and offline will be more and more critical in the success of direct marketing efforts."


Of course, it's worth remembering that judging is in the eyes of the beholder. As the market evolves, so do the gripes and accolades. But an award's value to the winners remains undimmed.


"Awards have no direct effect on the business," CP Comunicacion Proximity's Alzugaray said. "No client chooses his agency for the awards one has obtained. However, awards do have a huge effect on attracting the best people. All professionals think in awards when deciding where to develop their careers. The team's quality influences the business, and awards influence the team's quality."


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