This year's DMA Royal Mail Awards attracted an unprecedented 800 entries from agencies large and small, proving that recession or no recession, the direct marketing industry is in rude health.
Such enthusiasm is noteworthy for two reasons. The DM industry has a plethora of awards, against which the DMA Royal Mail's event has to compete. Secondly, in a bid to make its awards stand out, the DMA last year made some initially unpopular changes to its judging process.
Chief among these changes was a strengthening of the judging criteria to make an award more desirable. Gold winners had to show excellence in the areas of strategy, creativity and results and, if they fell short, judges were no longer obliged to present a gold award at all. Last year, many agencies felt cheated when just 13 golds out of a possible 31 were awarded.
But, according to Mark Nohr, the chairman of the DMA's judging panel for the past two years and former managing director of Lion, a more rigorous judging process was the necessary riposte to criticism that the awards had become annual backslapping event.
"There's some great work here that really passes the 'I wish I'd done that' test," says Nohr. Winning entries were particularly strong in terms of targeting and creative solutions, he adds.
The DMA believes the repositioning of its awards has made them the best in the business, and that the level of entries is testament to this. "People came last year and saw that this was the award to win," says Jenny Moseley, chairman of the DMA and chairman of Grange Direct.
That overhaul appears to have borne fruit. The standards bar has risen to the extent that twice as many golds have been awarded as in 2000.
Above all, there is a feeling that the rejuvenated DMA Royal Mail Awards are serving their primary purpose as a powerful argument for direct marketing for clients. According to Wanda Goldwag, a member of this year's awards committee and executive chairman of data consultancy PDV, the new judging criteria highlight all of DM's assets, not just its more familiar strength of delivering measurable results.
"Just because a campaign has results doesn't mean it can't be creatively appealing and at the same time fit with a brand's strategic development," says Goldwag.
2001 DMA ROYAL MAIL AWARDS -- GOLD WINNERS Markets Client Automotive Mini Business-to-business (other) Royal Mail Business-to-consumer (other) Joshi's Kitchen Financial services Britannic Retirement Solutions FMCG Associated Co-op Creameries Fundraising UNICEF International Glenmorangie Leisure/travel Thomas Cook Telecommunications Vodafone Markets Agency Automotive ehsrealtime Business-to-business (other) OgilvyOne Worldwide Business-to-consumer (other) Publicis Dialog Financial services Harrison Troughton Wunderman FMCG Partners Andrews Aldridge Fundraising Lion International Oneagency Leisure/travel Carlson Marketing Group Telecommunications Harrison Troughton Wunderman Media Markets Client Business direct mail (high volume) Curtis Fine Papers Consumer direct mail (high volume) Vodafone Consumer direct mail (low volume) Smile Digital media Flextech TV Door-to-door Associated Co-op Creameries Field marketing CHEP UK Inserts Skoda Multiple media Voluntary Service Overseas Outdoor/ambient media …