Magazine article Marketing

IDMF PREVIEW: The Credit Card Test

Magazine article Marketing

IDMF PREVIEW: The Credit Card Test

Article excerpt

Five DM agencies present their mailing strategies for a fictitious credit card. Rachel Miller reports.

The International Direct Marketing Fair is Europe's biggest and longest-running marketing exhibition. As well as the 300 exhibitors and a packed seminar programme, visitors will be able to take a look at some impressive work produced by five direct marketing agencies in response to a special challenge issued by Marketing.

Tequila Manchester, Elvis, Target Group, WWAV Rapp Collins and Iris were asked to produce a mailing for a fictitious credit card called Interest.

The work had to be presented in a seasonally-influenced style for Easter. It also had to include the offer of a rate of 0% on all balance transfers for six months as long as the recipient moved across a minimum of pounds 500 from a competitor's card.

From this fairly tight brief comes a range of work as varied as it is creative. Here the agencies explain their strategies.


The surprising credit card

Yet another credit card offering 0% interest for six months. The starting point was to think hard about the brand. Interest needed to cut through, be sustainable and engender loyalty.

First we had to overcome the sheer weight of mailings vying for consumers' attention. In the quest for standout, one word kept popping up - surprise.

If Interest could continually surprise and delight customers, we would achieve our ambitions.

So Interest believes in providing pleasant surprises; it believes credit can be interesting; and it works hard to offer customers a good feeling.

Interest provides a succession of surprises: 3% cashback over Easter, an interest-payment holiday in June, pounds 10 credited to your balance at Christmas or a small cake on your birthday.

We decided to create an acquisition mailing that could be printed digitally to allow us to personalise it in colour. We opted for a large roll-out format, which would also be surprising and provide differentiation.

We would split the mailings into smaller cells aimed at audience niches.

Our mailing targets a younger group, both in age and attitude; the design uses bold imagery and striking typography, while the copy sets up the proposition in a human, honest way.

An exclamation mark is used in place of the letter 'I' to introduce the concept of surprise and the card itself features cutting guides and a scissors icon. This represents cutting-edge interest and the 'send it back if you're not satisfied' element of the copy.

The call to action is a push to the Interest web site. Consumers can apply online via a humorous questionnaire, allowing them to tell us lots of stuff about themselves. The incentive is 'the more we know about you, the more surprises you'll enjoy'.


Time is money

This brief highlights all the bad things about financial DM. The offer is no different from any other credit card. It is simply a short-term 'bribe' to capture customers before placing them back where they started - paying interest on their debt.

To cap it all, the company is called Interest, which accentuates the worst feature of credit cards.

Every household receives numerous mailings for credit cards. The first challenge is how to get consumers to open and read it, but there is a second step. Even if a potential consumer opens your mailing and takes an interest, research has shown they will put it aside with the intention of coming back to it; often they don't.

Two factors need to be addressed: first, the recipient must act immediately and second, the response needs to be easy to complete. The creative challenge is to accentuate the cost of not responding now (that is, the interest you are currently paying), and how simple it is to change to Interest.

We would send an egg timer with three minutes on the clock. …

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