Category Archives: Creative

Examples of brilliant Direct Mail

Published / by Simon Foster

Been digging around for examples of outstanding direct mail. If you’re tired of running emails and banners ads, and you’re looking to make a real creative and intelligent impact, you might want to consider something like this, especially if you have a discrete high value segment and want to get seriously noticed.


The Australian Defence Force wanted to hire engineers. So George Patterson Y&R Melbourne developed this DIY radio kit to engage engineering students as potential recruits without instructions.  It won a D&AD Gold in 2014.

Here’s the story behind the campaign



How to get the best from DRTV

Published / by Simon Foster

Many advertisers are returning to Direct Response Television (DRTV). Whilst the goal today is to maximise web response as opposed to phone response, many of the rules of traditional DRTV remain constant. Here’s a summary of how to get the best from Direct Response TV:

  1. Remember all DRTV begins with the offer. Whilst issues around DRTV performance are often seen as “creative” or “media” we need to remember that the proposition to consumers is key to DRTV success. If you are offering free Ferraris you will not need to think in terms of creative or media optimisation. The offer will work. Equally, if you are offering a poorly differentiated product or service, you will find it difficult to sell. Your problems will be exacerbated further if you are in a mature market packed with established offers.  So ask yourself the “so-what” question against every line of copy. If you wouldn’t buy it, no-one else will.
  2. Develop compelling DRTV creative. DRTV seeks behavioural change, and consumers need to be given good reasons to stop what they’re doing and do something else. You need to talk in terms of meaningful benefits. There are certain category rules that are helpful. If you’re selling a financial product don’t use jokes. For most people, talking about their hard-earned money is not a funny business. Concentrate on explaining what the product is different, what it offers that is new and why your target audience should find out more.
  3. Be careful with emotional sales messages. Most mainstream advertising seeks to build emotional connections between people and brands. For many brands this is the right approach, but if you want to sell off the screen, stick to promoting the benefits that make you different and giving good reasons to buy.
  4. Make sure the creative identifies your target audience. Everyone watches broadcast media. The trick to making DRTV work is to create a sense of identification between you and your target audience. Show people and situations that your target audience will identify with. Create the impression that your target audience belongs in the ad.
  5. Understand the economics of broadcast media. TV companies use every possible device to maximise the yield on the audience they are selling. Yield is the revenue generated by advertising over the cost of attracting that audience i.e. producing or buying the programming.  High quality peak programming is expensive to produce or buy. More people are at home available to view during peak viewing times (5pm to 11pm) so audiences are higher. So TV companies put their highest cost, highest quality programming into the times of day when most people are available to view.  Moreover, ad agencies want high reach, so there is high demand for high quality, high audience programming. All this makes peak airtime expensive both in terms of unit cost and capital cost. The premiums embedded in peak mean it sells at rates that rarely work for DRTV advertisers. But off-peak airtime is an entirely different matter….
  6. Unlock the benefits of off-peak airtime. Everybody watches off-peak TV; young, middle-age, old, affluent, less well off, single, married, students, working people and those who’re retired. People take holidays and have days off. But most importantly, the homemaker watches daytime TV and the homemaker is often the person who researches and makes financial plans.  Daytime can be ideal for reaching family decision makers. Daytime can be ideal for reaching students and it can be ideal for reaching affluent grey markets. Off-peak is the place to test your product in DRTV.
  7. Test, measure and learn. DRTV is direct response marketing and the lifeblood of direct response is quantified planning and control. Using BARB data it is possible to match minute by minute audience data with your minute by minute click traffic. This allows advertisers to build a response database which matches TV audience with web response. Each spot can be defined by a number of planning variables that can be controlled: day of week, time of day, channel, proximity to previous spot, length of spot and creative execution. All these factors can be combined and used to optimise future DRTV media buys.

Would you give your agency this brief?

Published / by Simon Foster












A few aspects of this brief make it both remarkable and very interesting reading:

  1. Mick sends Andy “2 boxes of material which you can use, and the record”. In other words some pictures and the product.
  2. Mick adds “I leave it in your capable hands to do whatever you want”. Total trust. But then, not every agency copywriter or art director is Andy Warhol.
  3. Money is almost incidental.
  4. Mick warns Andy that he may be chased to deliver, but also advises him to ignore the chaser. That puts account management in their place.

I can only conclude that clients give their agencies such complex briefs because a) they don’t think their agencies really have to creative talent to deliver what’s required and b) they are convinced they are going to get something they don’t like. In other words, the brief becomes the client’s insurance policy document. Funny, that is what they often look like.

Dairy Milk gets the gorilla, but Galaxy gets the growth

Published / by Simon Foster


So, Dairy Milk with its Drumming Gorilla TV ad campaign has posted a sluggish 2% market share growth whilst ‘run of the mill’ Galaxy has romped home with a 12% growth. Research has shown that the Gorilla ad is more memorable than Galaxy activity, but clearly this success in recall does not seem to have translated into success in sales. Quite rightly, this result immediately ignites a discussion about the sales value of creativity. You can get into some of that here.

Not entirely unconnected to this is the debate that took place on the 4th August at the IPA – “Who makes better planners? Planners or creatives?” Veteran creative Dave Trott and planning sophistocrat David Golding battled it out with Trott arguing that it’s time planners got back to building sales rather than using advertising “to provide a window on a brand’s soul and to build the brand’s ‘equity’ in people’s minds”. Golding defended the principle of using the brand as a source of insight, and quite valiantly by all reports.

I’ve worked on projects with both of these characters, with David Golding on an existing client account at WCRS and Dave Trott on a creative pitch at WTCS (as was). Dave Trott worked in an interesting way. He did his own planning in his own mind, based on very considerable experience. His approach was intuitive – he visualised the target audience as people he knew (in this case his mother and her friends) and asked himself what type of message would engage her. Then he wrote those messages down and turned them into a visualized campaign for TV and press. Trott’s campaign was a distillation of the communication problem, solved, simplified and then visualised. Dave Golding on the other hand was measured, considerate, analytical and logical. He’d be as likely to base a campaign on what his mother thought as a judge would be to discuss a legal technicality with a courtroom security guard. The work that resulted was memorable and strong. So here’s the question – if the insight for the Dairy Milk Gorilla campaign were to have originated from the grey matter of either Golding or Trott, which would it be?