NEW ORLEANS — Ten direct marketing agencies went home happy last night after winning multiple awards at the 71st Annual DMA International Echo Awards here.
OgilvyOne Worldwide, New York, walked away with the Diamond Echo award for the most outstanding direct marketing campaign for its TV campaign that helped launch a new Internet services and buying club for PeoplePC, San Francisco.
The U.S. Postal Service Gold Mailbox award for most innovative use of direct mail went to London agency DP&A Ltd. for its talking direct mail piece to acquire customers for a new Wildfire telephone service by Britain's Orange.
Lautman & Co., Washington, came home with the Henry Hoke Echo for direct marketing's most courageous solution to a difficult sales/marketing problem. The accolade was for Lautman's fundraising campaign for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum St. Louis Project.
McCann Relationship Marketing Worldwide, New York, bagged the most awards with five, including a gold Echo for client Amgen Cancer and Chemotherapy Educational Support System. The agency's entry was an advocacy program through direct mail for breast cancer patients.
In all, the DMA received 875 entries worldwide and awarded 14 gold, 20 silver and 23 bronze Echo awards to advertisers and agencies this year. For the winners, the strategy clearly was to rise above the din.
“We were seeing a lot of noise, a lot of wackiness and a lot of clutter in the market, and our kind of straightforward simplicity was the differentiator,” said George Tannenbaum, senior partner and creative director at OgilvyOne's New York office.
The direct response campaigns targeting consumer and business-to-business markets this year ranged all over the lot, from free trials to hard offers to lead generation.
While BTB entries seemingly are on an upward trend, there weren't seismic shifts in campaign executions or results.
“Besides there being a lot more international entries winning high awards, there's more [direct response television],” said Ray Roel, director of worldwide systems development at McCann and an Echo judge for the sixth successive year. “It's [also] become more international. They used to be almost exclusively a U.S. medium.”
Roel said the use of television has improved over the years and that the medium is preferred by more industries than in the past. Overall, the bar hasn't dropped.
“I think the creative, the art design, has definitely heightened over the years,” he said. “Can't say it was a one-year phenomena, but over a longer period of time, all of the direct response media look better than they have in the past, designed more with keeping brand and image in mind.”
The DMA ensures that judges do not look at any work submitted by their own agencies. So, while Roel knew that his agency, McCann, had won five Echoes, he did not know until the awards ceremony whether they were gold, silver or bronze.
“The process they have developed has created a system that's fair to every entry,” said Stan Rapp, chairman and CEO at McCann and an Echo judge several times in the past. “And it's built in a firewall to be certain that those doing the judging are not judging their own work, and it's more than just selecting and rotating.”
Echo entries are judged on various criteria, ranging on a scale that ranks 1 for poor and 10 for excellent. Campaigns are held to the light on issues such as marketing strategy, creative and art design and response results.
“Quite frankly, I look for innovation,” Roel said. “A great execution of an old idea is fine, but really when something is fresh and new, that's the pinnacle of excellence.”
Take PeoplePC, for instance. OgilvyOne was charged with building awareness and credibility for a new brand in a market that was awash with offers of free computers, Internet access and in-home service from players such as freePC, eMachines and freemac. But consumers seemed wary after unfulfilled promises by the marketers.
So OgilvyOne developed a three-week campaign on network and cable television. Network TV offered high visibility and buzz, while cable provided consistent viewership. Delivered by a character called Mark John Jefferies, the ad ran between the second and third innings of game two of the 1999 World Series or during the 3 a.m. showing of “Magnum, P.I.”
The PeoplePC ads generated more than 100,000 telephone calls in the first two weeks of the campaign's run, Tannenbaum said.
“I think what we were seeing in the marketplace with all these proliferating dot-coms and commercials that were weirder and weirder and kind of sold less and less at the end of the 30 seconds or 60 seconds and we were left with either not caring about what you saw or wondering what the hell you saw,” he said. “The trick was to come by with a kind of way to be straightforward but not boring and that's how we found this charming little child [Jefferies].”
Besides Tannenbaum, the OgilvyOne executives on the PeoplePC campaign included Steve Hayden, president of worldwide brand services; Michael Kelly, who headed the account; and Susan Westre, creative director.
For Lautman, another award winner, the challenge was different: how to cost-effectively inform the 200,000-plus U.S. and international members of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington about the myriad exhibitions and programs? And, how to raise the level of gifts from beyond the membership contributions?
The marketing strategy employed was to create an attractive, informative product designed to generate larger gifts for the museum than past appeals. So, the agency conceived a special-edition catalog as an accompaniment to the “Voyage of the St. Louis” exhibition on display at the museum between April and July of 1999.
The museum's membership file was segmented into members who were asked to underwrite the members-only catalog for a $250 gift, and members who received that underwritten catalog with a request for a special contribution.
Moreover, the creative challenge was to create a catalog that had the same look and feel of similar direct mail that the museum's membership had received. Also, members who underwrote the book were to be presented a portfolio version with a higher-perceived value that was designed as a mailable version of the exhibition.
More than 43,000 members in March 1999 were asked to underwrite the catalog, and the sponsors' names were included in the book. Two months later, members who weren't asked to underwrite the catalog were sent the finished product along with the request for a contribution.
The Lautman campaign raised more than $500,000 in gross income — more than projections to meet budgetary goals — and net income after mailing costs of $194,437.
“The strategy was to combine fundraising and education and give people something that they felt was really quite frankly beautiful, something worth keeping in their library,” said Kay Lautman, president of her agency, which has handled the museum account for more than 10 years.
Working on the account with Lautman were Tiffany Neill, senior account executive; Clay Dingman, art director; and Connie Clark, writer.
“The idea belonged to Bruce Monroe, who was then the [Holocaust Museum's] director of membership, and we've been doing things to bring the museum out to people who will never get to Washington to see it,” Lautman said, adding that Neill “is really the person who brought it together.”