NEW YORK — It should concern American agencies that Spain's CP Comunicacion Proximity is making a habit of grabbing the U.S. direct marketing industry's top awards.
The Madrid agency's American Nike S.A. campaign to build a database of soccer-crazy teens in Spain (see DM News, Feb. 24) took this year's Maxwell Sackheim Award for Best of Show at last night's John Caples International Awards.
CP Comunicacion's Caples win comes only four months after the shop snared the Direct Marketing Association's top Echo Award for an Amnesty International campaign that saved a Nigerian woman from death by stoning. The year before, the agency won the same Diamond Echo for a Sony Espana campaign.
The foreign invasion does not stop there. OgilvyOne Hong Kong's entry to boost subscriptions in Singapore for The Economist newspaper bagged the 2002 Courageous Client award from Caples.
What's going on?
Larry Kimmel, New York-based chairman/CEO of Grey Direct and general chair of the 25th Caples, has a theory.
“The importance of direct marketing creative has been elevated all around the world, and I think it's wonderfully exciting that smaller agencies in smaller markets are now getting recognition for their work as well,” Kimmel said.
“I think there's wonderful work happening everywhere,” he said. “Sometimes it's easier to do more outrageous creative when the target audience is smaller. In the U.S., we tend to be communicating on a wider scale, which sometimes requires that communications be a little safer.”
That would explain the pizzazz and color associated with foreign entries.
But even a smaller market like Spain requires a workout to get results. The agency was tasked to push Nike's soccer kit around the 2002 Japan-South Korea FIFA World Cup in June. However, those ages 12 to 18 in Spain cannot legally be sent unsolicited mail. Moreover, it had to overcome a limited database on that target.
So, the agency created a “Scout” mascot to interest the target audience to register on a Web site. An opt-in database was created from such “recruiting.”
Mailers and brochures were sent and e-mails exchanged. Participants were eligible for a training session with their Nike-sponsored players in the Spanish league. The goal of such marketing was to encourage visits to Nike stores.
The Courageous Client award equally pushed the envelope. The Economist's challenge in Singapore was to create brand awareness and increase subscriptions.
Luckily for OgilvyOne, the client gave it a lot of leeway. The promotion used news of the Enron scandal as a hook. The Houston energy company had been excoriated for shredding vital financial documents.
So, OgilvyOne used letter mail. But the letter was shredded before it was inserted into the envelope. The agency knew that recipients would be curious enough to piece the letter together.
The letter discusses The Economist's unique coverage. It goes on to ask recipients to read the publication regularly to stay on top of the news. An exclusive subscription offer was posted on economist.com.
These campaigns were among the 95 winning entries in 68 categories given out this year by Caples. Twenty-eight categories had no winners. All told, 900 entries were submitted. Australian and U.S. agencies won five first-place awards apiece and Spain three, as well as the Best of Show. New Zealand bagged two first-place awards, and Britain and the Philippines one each. There were 17 first-, 38 second- and 40 third-place winners.
Of the U.S. first-place winners, The Martin Agency took two awards, as did Rodgers Townsend. Doner bagged one. In Australia, M&C Saatchi topped with three first-place winners, and Mercerbell Pty. Ltd. and Rapp Collins Worldwide one each. Neighbor New Zealand's Clemenger BBDO Direct won two first-place honors.
In Europe, Spain's CP Comunicacion won Best of Show as well as first-place. Other first-place winners from Spain included FCBi and DEC BBDO. Britain's Draft Worldwide won a first-place award, too.
The only Asian first-place winner was the Philippines' BCD Pinpoint.
Holly Pavlika, executive vice president and executive creative director at Grey Direct, also said foreign agencies have more room to play around.
“There was a lot of big things, there were huge mailings,” said Pavlika, the Caples vice president in charge of judging. “We made some comments on how do they afford to mail these things. So, from an overseas standpoint, most of the entries tend to be extremely large. They have a smaller target audience, and they can spend more money to reach them.”
Pavlika also noted that there were 20 more finalists this year than last, maintaining the same caliber as in 2001 despite a tough economy.
Founded in 1978 by Andi Emerson, president of New York-based Emerson Marketing, the Caples awards honors creative work for direct marketing problems. It was named for John Caples, a famed copywriter who spent 56 years at ad agency BBDO.
This year's awards ceremony was again held at New York's Roosevelt Hotel. Musical performances by Rock Savage and Johnny Colon and Friends marked the silver jubilee celebrations.