Spanish Agency Bags Diamond Echo as Global Entries Increase

CHICAGO — Work for client Sony Espana by BBDO affiliate CP Comunicacion/Proximity was named the best direct response advertising campaign last night at the Direct Marketing Association's 72nd Annual International Echo Awards.

The Spanish agency was honored for garnering a 100 percent response rate on two mailings promoting a Sony TV closed-circuit digital techniques course for corporate security managers. Sent to an audience of less than 1,000, the dimensional mailers were part of a program called “It's a crime.”

In all, CP Comunicacion/Proximity's Madrid, Barcelona and Buenos Aires, Argentina, offices took home five Echo Awards, two of them gold. As the most-awarded foreign-based agency in the honors list, its presence reflects a growing trend of Echo entries from overseas.

For the first time, the DMA received more Echo submissions from overseas — 11 countries sent 571 entries versus 551 from the United States. Entries from Spain won seven Echo awards, and entries from the United Kingdom received four. The United States won the most with 40.

“I think it indicates the growing globalization of direct marketing practices,” said Chris Cleghorn, an Echo judge and executive vice president of direct and interactive marketing at Easter Seals, a Chicago-based provider of services to disabled people. “It also points to the growing credibility of the DMA as an organization that's really advancing the interests of direct marketers, not just in North America, but around the globe.”

Of course, many of the overseas entries are from satellites or affiliates of U.S. agencies. Take OgilvyOne Worldwide, which snared the largest Echo haul from its 220 agency entries worldwide. It accounted for nine Echo Awards for work done by offices in New York; Chicago; Oldbrook, IL; Bangalore, India; Frankfurt; Barcelona and Singapore.

MRM Partners New York, along with ad agency sibling McCann-Erickson's Manchester-Presbury, UK, and Barcelona offices, followed OgilvyOne in U.S. agencies. It won four Echo Awards for domestic work and two for overseas. MRM's tally was the same as last year, when it was the overall winner.

This time, MRM's New York office won the Henry Hoke Echo for a multimedia direct response campaign for The Michael J. Fox Foundation, also New York. This Echo is reserved for campaigns that exhibit the most courageous solution to a difficult sales or marketing issue.

MRM's pro bono TV spot highlighted Fox's search for a cure for Parkinson's disease. The ongoing campaign, also in print, collected nearly $2 million in less than nine months through a Web site and toll-free number.

“Our biggest challenge, creatively anyway, was figuring how to turn really what is one of America's most popular actors into America's most popular activist,” said Gary Scheiner, senior vice president and creative director at MRM Partners New York.

Another domestic agency, Russ Reid Co. of Pasadena, CA, took the USPS Gold Mailbox Echo for the campaign exhibiting the best use of direct mail. The entry was a flat mail piece soliciting donations for the Denver Rescue Mission.

Russ Reid found that donations were slipping because of a saturation of appeals for competing money in the Denver area. So the agency devised a Thanksgiving Dinner Bag mail piece that beat its control mailing by 51 percent and also in terms of yield. It put the entire message outside the paper bag, which symbolized a shopping bag for groceries. Only the response device and reply envelope were inside.

“A lot of charities are doing mailings around Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we wanted to stand apart, and we wanted it to be very, very simple,” said Robbin Gehrke, senior vice president and executive creative director at Russ Reid. “It doesn't take a lot to convince somebody to help a homeless person at Thanksgiving and share a Thanksgiving meal. In other words, share the bounty of Thanksgiving with someone. [But] you simply need to say it quickly.”

Keeping it simple was a theme noticed by Rich Feldman, managing partner of Westport, CT-based eSource Conversion Marketing and chairman of the Echo committee.

“People are trying to be more economical and efficient in how they reach their prospects and customers,” he said. “It doesn't necessarily mean that it was creatively better or worse, but you could tell, from my perspective, there were less of the higher-production, glitzier fare and more focused on the return on investment — which is consistent with what is going on with the economy.”

Besides the number of international entries, another trend he saw with this year's submissions was the increased acceptance of e-mail and Web jump sites as integral to effective direct marketing campaigns.

This year, campaigns from 63 companies and their direct marketing agencies won 17 gold, 26 silver and 20 bronze Echo Awards from 1,112 entries in 12 business categories. Twelve direct marketing agencies won multiple awards.

In a rare departure from its practices, the DMA added three new top awards this year:

Digital Impact, San Mateo, CA, won the Echo Digital Award for its interactive campaign for Procter & Gamble Co.'s cosmetics site, San Francisco. The award was created for campaigns that best applied new technology to execute proven direct marketing principles and that stuck to the DMA's privacy policy.

The Vertis Millennium Award went to Rodgers Townsend, St. Louis, for its direct mail campaign for Southwestern Bell, San Antonio. The award honors the campaign that made the most innovative use of printed material.

The final addition was the Royal Mail Millennium Award for the campaign with the best multimedia and integrated media effort. FCBi, Chicago, won for its multimedia campaign for John Deere, Raleigh, NC.

The 2001 awards were presented at the DMA's 84th Annual Conference & Exhibition. Comedian John Henson, a former host of E! Entertainment Television's “Talk Soup,” was master of ceremonies.

Entries are judged on various criteria, on a scale of 1 for poor and 10 for excellent. Campaigns are evaluated on issues such as marketing strategy, creative and art design, and response results.

Feldman, who has judged the awards for eight years, said the DMA always adjusts the classification of categories to optimize the judging process.

A major change was made this year. The DMA dropped its demand for a lot of specificity. It was left more to the entrant's willingness to volunteer details of campaign results. The caveat was, the more detail, the better the chance of winning, because results account for one-third of the score.

“What's interesting is we found in the years past that a lot of people didn't enter because they were so skittish about having to provide so much results' detail,” Feldman said. “So we allowed a little more flexibility this year in terms of what and how they chose to report results.”

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