B-to-b wins big at 71st Echo Awards

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B-to-b campaigns fared well in the Direct Marketing Association's 71st annual International Echo Awards, winning gold awards in four of the 11 categories.

The Echo awards honor the year's most successful direct marketing campaigns, based on response results, marketing strategy and creative components.

B-to-b campaigns in the financial sector performed particularly well, taking home two golds, and nine of the 18 awards overall in that category.

Non-U.S. advertising agencies had an especially strong showing, winning nine of the 14 gold Echos presented last week at the DMA's 83rd Annual Convention & Exhibition in New Orleans. More than 875 campaigns were submitted for Echo award consideration.

The b-to-b gold winners included:

•: Financial products & services--Aim Direct, Auckland, New Zealand, won three gold Echos in this category, all of which were for work on behalf of The Bank of New Zealand.

•: Business services--Saatchi & Saatchi, Wellington, New Zealand, for client Telecom New Zealand Ltd.

•: Publishing--Two gold Echos were awarded: one to The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., for client 64 Magazine; and another to The Penny Black, Johannesburg, for client South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

•: Manufacturing & distribution--Decatur, Ga.-based Market-One Inc. for Fitzgerald & Co./Cryovac.

Financial gold

Aim Direct's gold-winning campaigns for The Bank of New Zealand were aimed at farmers and large b-to-b banking account audiences, respectively. The farmer-oriented campaign was notable for both its creativity and the revenue it generated.

In one of the campaign's mailings, Aim encouraged farmers to contact an agribusiness manager at their local Bank of New Zealand branch, rather than at a headquarters office, as is usually the case. It resulted in $20 million in revenues.

In a subsequent mailing a bottle of weed killer was sent to farmers, many of whom have been beset in recent years by tumbling beef prices and the fallout from protectionist national policies. Evidently, Aim Direct's ploy worked; the mailing resulted in an additional $14 million in revenues.

B-to-b campaigns won half of the financial Echos. Bronze winners included Hallmark Business Expressions, Kansas City, Mo., for client First Union National Bank; and Brazil Salem, Sao Paulo, Brazil, for client Cigna Welfare & Investment. Vienna-based Palla, Koblinger & Partner/Proximity took home the sole silver financial Echo, for client Uniqa AG.

Business services was also fertile ground for winning b-to-b campaigns, with three golds-including Saatchi & Saatchi's for Telecom New Zealand-a silver and a bronze Echo. McCann Relationship Marketing Hong Kong's gold was for client I-Quest Corp., while Oslo-based Leo Burnett Direkte's was for client PaintBox.

International flavor

While U.S. agencies dominated the business-to-consumer Echos, non-U.S. agencies performed strikingly well in b-to-b.

One campaign in particular-McCann Relationship Marketing Hong Kong's for I-Quest-was indicative of the off-beat creative work put forth by these agencies. It involved sending bottles of vintage wine in hand-delivered cases to the human resources directors of top Hong Kong hotels and garnered a 35% response rate.

Deb Coulson, director of relationship marketing at Irving, Texas-based Temerlin McClain and a vet of the Hong Kong b-to-b direct marketing scene, attributed the high level of b-to-b creativity outside the U.S. to progressive thinking. "Internationally, you're not so constrained by the traditional ways of doing things," Coulson said. "That frees people up."

Several U.S. b-to-b campaigns also showed marked creativity. Among them was MarketOne Inc.'s campaign for Fitzgerald & Co./Cryovac. The company sent out what appeared to be bags of Cryovac pet food, which turned out to be popcorn.

The expense of such effective campaigns can be worth the cost when targeted at big b-to-b clients, said Timothy Suther, president-North American operations for Protagona, Chicago. "As you move upmarket in b-to-b, the ticket prices go up,'' he said.

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