Nine nonprofits, six of which were from outside the United States, were honored for direct response campaigns during this year’s Direct Marketing Association’s ECHO award competition.
Presented earlier this month during the DMA06 ECHO Awards Ceremony & Gala in San Francisco, some 93 awards were bestowed.
Gold, silver and bronze ECHOs were awarded across 12 fundamental business categories, including: Not-for-Profit, Financial Products and Services, Publishing/Entertainment, Communications/Utilities, Automotive, Information Technologies, Insurance, Retail and Direct Sales, Travel & Hospitality/Transportation, Pharmaceutical/Healthcare, Business and Consumer Services, and Product Manufacturing and Distribution. Nonprofits won in the silver and bronze categories.
The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation
The organization’s annual World of Difference program selects four people who are willing to give up their jobs to work full-time at a charity for a year. The foundation pays their salaries up to NZ$55,000 and expenses of up to NZ$30,000. There also was an offer for the foundation’s employees to do it for a month.
With great competition for the charitable dollar, the organization had to find its candidates while building its brand of being unconventional and fun. The campaign was built on the concept that everyone has the capacity to be a good person. The goal was 300 application for the year-long program and 20 employees for the one-month program.
The organization used direct mail, outdoor signage, press, viral online and internal communications to get the word out to the public with direction from the agency Draft Auckland. There was also a microsite for it.
The campaign played on people’s egos and featured humorous ideas centered around the most extreme nice behavior. There was also a “Nice-o-meter.”
The plan exceeds goal by 76 percent, garnering 528 qualified people for the year-long program, with the 300 application goal hit in just two weeks. There were 26 employee applications, exceeding goal by 30 percent. The micosite received 28,363 visits during the six-week period. Cost details were not revealed.
The Lost Dogs’ Home
Friends of PAWs Appeal
The Lost Dogs’ Home provides shelter care, medical treatment and the re-homing of lost, stray sick and abandoned animals and is the leading animal welfare charity in Australia. But, it had strong brand recognition only in the State of Victoria. Thus, the pool of potential donors was finite and being fought over by other charities.
The direct mail package, designed by agency Pareto Fundraising in Woolloomooloo, Australia, was sent to fewer than 1,000 cold prospects in the Melbourne-metro area from 11 different cold lists with refined overlays. The package elements included: a letter from the managing director that was colloquial, conversational and honest to create a trust factor; a survey that was carefully designed to make it easy for prospects to complete; a proposition, telling prospects what they needed to do, why, by when and how the donation would make a difference; a response coupon, in large print because the prospects were older; an ask amount of $4 cash or $6 monthly; personalization of the prospect’s name, city and state into the copy; a reply envelope that didn’t look as though it was mass produced; look and feel was warm and personal; and, imagery, a strong visual of a dog.
The organization acquired 2,586 new donors, compared to the target of just 900. New monthly donors totaled 1,061, compared to the target of 450. Best of all, the identified 53 cold prospects who have left a bequest to the organization.
TDA Recruitment Campaign
Training and Development Agency For Schools
The United Kingdom is faced with a shortfall in the number of people applying to become teachers. It was perceived as a difficult career for which the compensation was too low. The aim was to push those with an interest to take the next step.
Traditionally, teaching candidates received only one outbound communication with a generic “routes to teaching” message. In this initiative, the focus was changed to a more inspiration message. There were direct mail and email messages throughout the year.
Candidates were encouraged to contact TDA by telephone or online. The key to all of the communications, designed by the agency Draft London, was engagement with the underlying tone of the importance of being a teacher. It also didn’t sound like a desperate government agency.
The campaign received a 26.15 percent response rate with nearly 20 percent of the respondents joining a teaching course.
Underwater Text Campaign
Greater Wellington Regional Council
The organization is responsible for care of the environment of the lower part of New Zealand’s North Island. It launched a program called “Be The Difference.” The key element was allowing people to swim in pools that were with obstacle to give a fish’s perspective of pollution. It was an underwater text campaign.
People crowded around the aquariums or held their breath and dived to the pool bottoms to read messages placed there. It was also crafted so it could be moved from pool-to-pool and so kids couldn’t lift them and get hurt.
There was also an opportunity to respond by text messaging to the organization, the person would be sent a Web link to a membership page. Membership inquiries increased by 142 percent with a conversion rate of 60 percent, compared to the previous 40 percent. Cost details were not revealed.
National Heart Foundation of Australia
The organization’s challenge was to raise more money from a tired supporter database. The appeal was to fund worthy research projects that the foundation had been turning away because of a lack of funds. The key was soliciting as many cash gifts as possible from a selected group of donors.
Each direct mail package was personalized with variable paragraphs throughout the piece to ensure that it felt personal. The package used as its base a 4-year-old girl who had a congenital heart defect who also had post operative complications that left her brain damaged. The package contained several pictures. The top 1 percent of donors was sent a “high value pack” with guaranteed next day delivery. There was a four-page personalized letter, devised by agency Pareto Fundraising of Woolloomooloo, Australia, and a folder with the donor’s hand-written name on it.
The same number of donors as the previous year received packages but the results were 203 percent better. It generated gross income of $1,036,861, 221 percent greater than the goal. The average gift was $62.15, beating the goal of $36.36. Total cost was $196,234, roughly $5,000 less than projected.
Cross My Heart
Red Cross Norway
The campaign was in support of the Red Cross Youth Hotline’s Web service where youngster can ask adults questions, discuss among themselves or read about themes such as sex, drugs, friendship and legal rights. The service has 400 volunteers nationwide.
The service had been phone only from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. The plan was expansion to the Web. Because of that goal, the decision was made to make the Internet the main the appeal channel. There were also print ads in two national newspapers and a youth magazine.
The plan, devised by MRM World Group, McCann Direkte Norway, was to communicate in a tone and voice to the target groups. There were three stages: placing the new service temporarily on a Web site where comments were solicited; visitors got to vote on the name of the site; and finally the site was marketed with the new name.
More than 800 people made suggestions and more than 1,000 voted for the new name. In the first eight weeks, the site had 50,000 visitors. In comparison, the telephone service had 56,000 calls for all of 2004. The total cost was $40,000, including production, Web design and programming.
Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival
Eagle, Idaho Volunteer Firefighter’s Association
The special event is a one-day charity festival to raise money for the fire department. Rocky mountain oysters are bull testicles. The fire department didn’t have much to spend on promotion so it canvassed neighboring towns with posters and also used radio spots developed pro bono by Foote Cone & Belding.
The concept was to use humor, since bull testicles aren’t a regular items in people’s diets, and to communicate the serious need for money to buy equipment.
Posters were stolen at a high rate and radio station staffs loved the ad so played them significantly more than the media buy.
Ticket sales increased 24 percent year-over-year and two tone of “oysters” were eaten. More money was raised in half the time, since rain shorten the event. The fire department purchased an extrication device, the Jaws of Life, with the revenue.
According to research by World Vision, American Christians give overwhelmingly to domestic causes, with only about 9 Percent to global issues. The topic of AIDS presents further challenges for a conservative audience, according to World Vision in its ECHO contest entry.
Some 603,800 current donors and in-house prospects were targeted with an email linking to the World Vision AIDS Test. It was designed by the organization’s in-house agency to be an online campaign. The idea was to leverage World AIDS Day to bring donors and prospects to action. It was delivered via a simple HTML email. The email linked to a full screen Flash! presentation. The test had pass/fail buttons for 10 questions and answers, some regarding the 15 million kids orphaned by AIDS.
The core message was that knowledge was not enough, that action was needed.
The click through rate was 4.7 percent, with 28,187 people viewing the AIDS test from the email. Other channels, such as the World AIDS Day campaign, brought in another 2,092 visitors. Some 9 percent of people who received the email passed it to a friend. While fundraising was not the primary goal, $59,660 was raised, against a total cost of $15,240. It surpassed World Vision’s average income of $36,432 on single-issue emails.
It was so successful that it is being re-purposed for World Vision offices around the world.
Common Threads Media Kit
The Black Rep in St. Louis
A regional theatre which competes with 12 others in the area, the organization needed to increase ticket sales and advertising wasn’t getting it done. They needed coverage in the local press.
Previously, the theatre’s seasons were themed. But, season 29 didn’t focus on a particular theme but instead investigated a number of disparate topics. Once a theme was selected for the season, Common Threads, the word had to get out. A media kit was delivered three weeks before the start of the season. It was comprised of a cloth envelope and a cloth-bound, hand-sewn season book that provided information on all of the plays. The quilts were selected because quilting has long been a part of African-American Culture.
The campaign resulted in 95 mentions about the theatre and boosted ticket sales 43 percent compared to the same period in the prior year. There was also an 8 percent boost in season subscriptions.
The effort, devised by agency Rogers Townsend, cost less than $500 plus shipping. NPT