An international influence pervaded the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) ECHO awards again this year, with eight nonprofit campaigns winning either a gold, silver or bronze award, only one of which was from the United States. The top ECHO award, the Diamond, went to Accion Contra el Hambre, Madrid, Spain for its campaign for a “luxury club” that was actually an appeal for funds to eradicate hunger in Niger.
The DMA presented its 2008 International ECHO Awards during a ceremony hosted by “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno at the Bellagio Las Vegas. DMA presented 92 ECHO Awards to multi-channel direct marketing campaigns from all over the globe.
This year’s awards were entered, categorized, judged, and presented in a dozen primary business categories. DMA recognized 27 nonprofit campaigns but only the eight won a gold, silver or bronze award.
Of the nearly 1,000 campaigns submitted for this year’s ECHO honors, 15 campaigns were honored with gold, 32 with silver, and 39 with bronze. In addition, six campaigns received special awards.
Reflecting the increasingly global nature of multi-channel direct marketing, DMA’s 2008 ECHO Awards were presented to campaigns from 23 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States.
The campaigns from abroad were edgier and took more chances than those submitted from the United States, explained Geoffrey D. Batrouney, executive vice president, Estee Marketing Group in New Rochelle, N.Y. Batrouney served as a judge on two of the three rounds for ECHO judging, and is an ECHO Committee member.
“Why did the overseas agencies continue to win so many awards? Because their work is exciting, creative, truly leading edge, successful and the clients are truly courageous,” said Batrouney. “Great direct mail that is wildly successful and creative requires courageous clients, and it is fair to say that there appear to be more clients willing to take risks in the overseas markets than here, in the good ol’ USA. Our domestic work is good, not bad, but good. But good doesn’t win the brass ring. ÔGreat’ won, and deservedly so,” said Batrouney. “It takes a marriage of a great agency and a great client for great work to be commissioned and bought. Overseas folk are edgy, and are risk-takers, and are very, very creative. And, that goes for both sides of the desk. The clients also appear more willing to invest large sums in initiatives that are high-risk-high-reward. Really amazing stuff comes out of Spain and Scandinavia, Ireland and Asia.”
Gold + Diamond ECHO Category: Business-to-Business Client: Accion Contra el Hambre — Madrid, Spain Agency: Shackleton — Madrid, Spain Campaign: Niger Luxury Club Accion Contra el Hambre is translated to Action Against Hunger. While it has many projects, this initiative was for a dual program: reparation in Agadez and water in Keita, both in Niger. The appeals targeted urban men and women 30-45 years old. They were trying to raise 100,000 Euros from a target audience that ranged from 50,000 to 999,999 people from Oct. 1, 2006 through March 31, 2008.
Accion Contra el Hambre wanted an email and microsite campaign capable of arousing the target group of donors. The names came from its donor lists, associated databases and external databases. The challenge was that the combined databases brought about 300,000 people, too small in their estimation to get 100,000 Euros. Plus, they wanted to launch in January, right after people had given for Christmas.
When the donor opened the email, the person saw an invitation to an exclusive place in Africa, with landscapes, spectacular sunsets and an authentic safari. When the donor went to the resort’s microsite, the donor was interrupted by a fly. Idyllic images changed to drought, contaminated water, pernicious hygiene conditions and malnutrition images.
It was highly successful. The group sent 218,437 viral emails, which resulted in 422,098 site visits and an average gift of 24.91 Euros. It raised 181,000 Euros, nearly double the target.
Gold Category: Business-to-Business And Consumer Client: BIANZ — Christchurch, New Zealand Agency: Blackwood Communications Group — Auckland, New Zealand Campaign: NZ Bakery of the Year Competition The Baking Industry Association of New Zealand (BIANZ) runs the New Zealand Bakery of the Year Competition annually. Bakeries register and submit baked goods for judging. The public can vote for their favorite bakery in the People’s Choice Awards. It had an awareness problem. In 2006, only 30 bakeries entered. Changes were made to the format of the competition to encourage bakeries to enter and for people to vote.
The target was to get one million people voting. A direct response package went to bakeries, relying on in-store promotional material to drive public awareness and an online viral campaign. There was no budget for mainstream media.
The marketing needed to be entertaining, controversial and relevant. One campaign had to fit both the potential contestants and the public.
Both audiences were issued a challenge that every New Zealander knows — the traditional Maori haka performed by the national ruby team to issue a challenge to opponents before each match.
The campaign was launched on May 22, 2007 with a call for entries sent to bakeries in bags of flour bearing the competition logo, driving them to the Web site to watch viral gingerbread men doing the haka. Registration closed July 16, 2007
On July 5, 2007 the viral campaign was sent to the public with a different end frame, driving people to a different part of the Web site.
Some 113 bakeries entered the contest and more than 10,000 votes were cast. Sales of gingerbread men tripled in registered bakeries The video was watched more than five million times and was posted to YouTube 160 times. The campaign cost less than $15,000 but it received an estimated $2.5 million in free media because of the hype.
Silver Category: Business-to-Business And Consumer Client: Action Against Hunger — Madrid, Spain Agency: Shackleton — Madrid, Spain Campaign: Beasts Accion Contra el Hambre received a second ECHO award. While it has many projects, this initiative was for a dual program: reparation in Agadez and water in Keita, both in Niger. The appeals targeted urban men and women 30 to 45 years old. The size of the target audience ranged from 50,000 to 999,999 potential donors.
When donors opened an email they saw insects and an incomplete message. After clicking continue several times users saw an animation where the insects form the face of a child and the complete sentence read: “If your subconscious is able to see humanity where there’s only diseases, poverty and insalubrity, we need people like you.” The email ends with the call to action: Join Us.
The group sent 291,785 emails. It has an open rate of 49 percent and a click ratio of 32 percent. The organization gained 28,254 new members.
Category: Business-to-Business Client: Save the Children Romania — Bucharest, Romania Agency: Proximity Bucharest — Bucharest, Romania Campaign: Heaven vs. Hell The Festival of Trees is an event organized every winter by Save the Children. The core of the event is the auction of artistic Christmas trees created by famous designers.
The problem in Romania is that many children skip school and are forced to work. Save The Children wants to rescue them from the streets. Fundraising events are rare in Romania. After 50 years of isolation, society is now waking up. People want to forget the past and focus on the present. Living in the now, it’s hard to convince someone to give money or to give something away.
The target audience was design companies of Romania. They think they are important to society but step back when it comes to proving it.
It was tough getting the designers to commit to making the trees. The target was fewer than 1,000 designers. They are free spirits who don’t like receiving orders from anyone. The strategy was that if an evil character ordered the designers to do the opposite of the objective, they would hate him and do exactly the opposite, thus what the organization wanted.
The devil and God concept was that each wrote the designer a letter, the devil requiring they not help children when God asks for help. The two letters were tied together, black from hell and white from heaven
The program had a 83 response rate, 10 designers of the 12 targeted chose to listen to God. In 2006, 17 trees raised $350,000. In 2007 with this marketing plan, just 10 trees raised $902,685
It was simplicity — good versus evil.
Category: Consumer Client: UNICEF Germany — Kšln, Germany Agency: Serviceplan Gruppe GmbH & Co. KG — Munich, Germany Campaign: ProAging UNICEF Germany is one of the largest social service groups in Germany. For the Christmas campaign they chose the survival of children in Africa. In many African nations, every fourth child dies before his or her fifth birthday. Little things like drinking water, mosquito nets, serums and soap make a difference.
The potential audience for an appeal was more than 1 million. In Germany, anti-aging is a big deal. But in Africa, it’s all about the opposite because children die long before they grow old. That’s why the group launched the virtual pro-aging cosmetics series by UNICEF. Products like drinking water or mosquito nets were promoted in a cosmetics campaign.
ProAging Products by UNICEF were promoted in print, poster, online and a guerrilla promotion. Between December 2007 and May 2008, 1.6 million Euros was donated at a cost of less than $50,000 to roll out.
Category: Consumer Client: University of Waikato — Hamilton, New Zealand Agency: Publicis Dialog — Auckland, New Zealand Campaign: The University of Waikato: The Great Social Experiment The idea was for an enrollment application campaign using the social networking community Bebo to reach prospective students. While the university’s brand positioning is fresh, brave and contemporary, the majority of universities tend to portray themselves through heritage and establishment-based messages.
Competition for new students is tough because the unemployment rate is at a historic low and there’s a steady decline in graduates and increase in a category known as “school leavers.” The campaign’s target was young people 16 to 19, digital natives who have never known a world without the Internet, mobile phones or PlayStations.
The idea was to start a dialogue with potential applicants who still have a few years before enrolling in the university.
A platform was built within the Bebo social network. Called “The Great Social Experiment,” the idea was to uncover what makes students at UoW so happy. TGSE was staged on Bebo as a real experiment, led by a “visiting professor of well-being.” He posed challenges to seven students to record their life and share online their reasons why the UoW is a cool place. They uploaded videos performing the challenges. The winner was to receive $3,000 in Air New Zealand vouchers.
The profile attracted 40,000 New Zealand unique page views, almost three times more than the total UoW student population. More than 3,000 friends and prospects blogged about it and completed a quiz, a conversion rate of 10 percent. Of this database, 30 percent are “hot” prospects intending to study during 2008 and 47 were “warm,” considering study in a few years. Thus, 77 percent of the new database is potential students.
The quiz attracted prospective students from more than 500 schools, representing nearly total coverage.
Category: Consumer Client: Oxfam New Zealand — Auckland, New Zealand Agency: TEQUILA — Auckland, New Zealand Campaign: Unwrapped Oxfam “Unwrapped” is a fundraising campaign with a twist. Donors choose unusual but practical Christmas gifts for their friends, such as farm animals, teacher training or clean water. A card goes to the friend, but the actual gift goes directly to the people in need of those items.
The idea was to divert some of the money being spent on gifts to Oxfam, instead of asking for discretionary dollars. The campaign’s total budget was just $11,000. No research was done because of lack of funds.
Two core groups were identified, elite professionals (mature families in affluent suburbs) and stylish singles, a mix of young professionals. The size of the audience was fewer than 10,000. Oxfam offered everything from a $4 chicken to a $3,500 coffee plantation (targeted at corporate givers).
Oxfam wanted to get 6,000 donors, up from 4,000 in 2005, and increase Web donations from 25 percent to 50 percent. The goal was income of $550,000, up from $350,000, and to extend the unwrapped concept to as many people as possible.
The slogan was: “Don’t Buy Crap This Christmas.” An animated online music video about the junk bought at Christmas was emailed to supporters and friend-get-friends participants. The seed email cost just $883 and had a 9.5 percent open rate. There were 35,000 visits to the Web site and it gained 6,733 donors (12 percent more than target) and raised $505,000 Ð 16 percent more than goal. The free public relations exposure was valued at $132,000 and the program was picked up by Oxfam worldwide.
Bronze Category: Consumer Client: KCSM-TV — San Mateo, CA Agency: Goodman Marketing Partners Inc. — San Rafael, CA Campaign: Steve Part Deux An independent public broadcasting station, KCSM launched a direct mail campaign that introduced “Steve” — a caricature of KCSM’s real programming director.
The program targeted people who gave at least $30 in membership “dues.” Steve was actually introduced in 2006 as he traveled around the world in search of programming. Since a large majority of responses were by mail, 2007 excluded postcards from the mix and used packages with a business reply envelope.
The first renewal was sent 60 days from expire and was followed by three more 60 days apart
The response rate was more than 40 percent and the average gift exceeded $120. NPT