Matt Batten is CCO, Wunderman UK and previously acted as the Foreman of the D&AD Awards Direct jury. Drawing on his extensive knowledge and experience, Matt wants to consult the creative community on the criteria the jury uses. Below he sets out the entry criteria and offers vital tips for entering Direct Marketing into the D&AD Awards.
What Is Direct?
It's obvious when a print ad is a brilliant print ad, when a TV commercial is a great TV commercial, so it should be clear when Direct is superb Direct. But it's not. Direct can take so many different forms, including print and TV; it could be anything. It’s not a single channel because it is defined by methodology rather than format.
Direct Marketing as a philosophy and discipline within advertising has been around since the 1950s. But most industry award shows didn't start including categories focused on Direct until around 2002. By then, agencies were evolving into a more integrated offering which meant the Direct categories quickly became flooded with everything advertising had to offer under the catch-cry "everything is Direct these days".
With the lines blurring further and further on the discipline, we must now ask "what IS Direct?" more than ever. It’s a question that has been asked, discussed and written about before, but this time, you have the say.
As a former Foreman for the Direct jury at the D&AD Awards I want to make sure we get it right. As we have occasionally seen, there have been some real head-scratchers when the winners are announced, more so in Direct categories than anywhere else.
This is probably because the definition of Direct is grey at best. For decades, it was defined using words like "targeted" and "response". Often, results are imperative. Some have insisted that data be a characteristic. Or there be an obvious acquisition/retention framework.
Yet we have occasionally seen undeniably award-worthy work take the top prize for Direct even though the work doesn't quite fulfil all the rigorous definitions.
Because even the most die-hard practitioner of traditional Direct can recognise a fantastic creative idea when they see one. After all, the Direct specialists are the ones who want to make sure their discipline keeps evolving and getting recognised for being part of the multifaceted beauty that makes our business so exciting and fascinating.
Above all, there must always be great creative.
That's what D&AD has always been about. Which is why it's so hard to win. There are plenty of campaigns that can tick a box for targeting or response, but not so many that can achieve the standard of creative required to receive an elusive pencil. Great creative, well executed.
Let's do something about it
Ex Forewoman of the D&AD Direct jury, Nicky Bullard (ECD of Lida/M&C Saatchi) started the judging with an impromptu workshop to help define what the jury should be looking for. The panel came up with four points to consider when judging each entry:
- Do you know me or want to get to know me?
- Does it make me feel something?
- Does it make me want to do something?
- Has the response been measured?
They judged on the basis that for an entry to be considered Direct, it had to fit all four criteria.
The small panel consisted of Nicky Bullard, Ian Haworth (Rapp), Charlie Wilson (OgilvyOne), Nigel Clifton, Sophie Grender (Royal Mail), and myself to discuss the Direct category . Nicky's four points were the starting point of our discussion and we all agreed they are valid and considered characteristics of Direct. But not necessarily in their entirety.
Droga 5 New York's 'Recalling 1993' campaign did not know me. It did not use a database of customers, nor was it targeted. It did not want to get to know me. The campaign was not gathering data or customers with which to build an ongoing relationship.
But it was undeniably Direct. It was almost entirely a CTA with a phone number stuck right on the phone from which you can call. And it claimed a success rate, even if not specifically quantifiable.
Find out how Droga 5's 'Recalling 1993' Took New York back in Time
Coca-Cola’s ‘Friendship Machine’ was highly awarded in Direct categories around the world. It was a vending machine. No customer base. No data. No relationship. No acquisition or retention. The only call-to-action was ‘Insert Coin’.
If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.