Aerogold mailing shot for triple target

Client: CIBC and Air CanadaProduct: CIBC Aerogold VisaAgencies: FCB Direct and Harrod & MirlinA direct mail campaign to launch CIBC Aerogold Visa, an 'affinity' credit card which allows consumers to earn one Aeroplan air mile for every dollar in purchases charged,...

Client: CIBC and Air Canada

Product: CIBC Aerogold Visa

Agencies: FCB Direct and Harrod & Mirlin

A direct mail campaign to launch CIBC Aerogold Visa, an ‘affinity’ credit card which allows consumers to earn one Aeroplan air mile for every dollar in purchases charged, had to travel in several different creative directions.

Peter Dare, creative director at the Montreal office of FCB Direct, Air Canada’s direct marketing agency, says the challenge was to sell the card to three distinct audiences – Aeroplan members, non-Aeroplan members and travel agents.

FCB Direct worked with cibc’s general advertising agency, Toronto-based Harrod & Mirlin, to adapt the line ’3 1/2 inches is the shortest distance to free air travel’ as a way of enticing non-Aeroplan members to apply for the card.

But Dare says that when it came to Aeroplan members, FCB Direct took a different approach.

‘With Aeroplan members, we don’t have to talk about free travel,’ he says. ‘We just have to mention miles, which is points, and that’s all they need to start salivating.’

To his knowledge, Dare says the CIBC Aerogold Visa campaign marked the most successful launch of a gold card in Canada.

Q. Why was this piece successful? What made it work?

A. The three basics were there – it was a great offer, we had a great list, and the creative was clear and concise.

Q. On what level were you trying to generate a response?

A. I’d have to say we were really going for the emotional level. The whole thing about free travel being within easy reach is an emotional pull.

But at the same time there was an intellectual element to it. It made economic sense. Every time you bought something, you got extra miles.

Q. Excluding your own work, what have been some of the best examples of direct mail?

A. The Lexus campaign was fantastic. It went to the right list, it made the right offer.

There’s a direct marketing guru in the States called Bill Jayme, who does all the subscription stuff for The New Yorker.

He’ll start a really interesting story right on the envelope, and he’ll carry the story right through. He’s a fantastic writer.

Q. What qualities do successful direct mail pieces have in common?

A. They make good use of personalization. They’ve all got really great letters. They’ve got intriguing outer envelopes, an irresistable offer, and they mail to the right list.

Q. How important is personalizing the letter?

A. I’d rather do it than not do it, but sometimes because of cost, you can personalize another piece, like the order form.

One type of personalization I detest is when they don’t use the right nomenclature. I think ‘Dear P.D. James’ is really awful compared to `Dear Ms James.’

Q. How hard should you press for a response in a direct mail offer?

A. If it’s a big contest, you can be as pushy as you want.

With business-to-business letters, you don’t have to be that pushy, but one thing that must come through is the immediacy.

If you don’t get them to answer virtually as soon as they read the package, you’re in a bit of trouble.

Q. Do you see direct mail primarily as a support for mass media advertising or as a stand-alone medium?

A. I actually see mass media advertising as a support for the direct mail effort. Mass media is kind of like the dodo a little bit. But we will use it to support our campaign if we have to.

Q. How are the rules changing in direct mail?

A. I’d have to say the art direction is getting fancier, and that’s a good thing.

We should be hiring more people from the general advertising side for art direction, but I don’t think the same thing is true for copywriters, because what I call ‘clever’ copywriting doesn’t cut the mustard in direct mail.

Q. If you look at the winners of this year’s RSVP Awards, what trends do you see creatively?

A. It’s clear that all of them know their customers really well. It’s not a one-off effort. They are committed to developing a relationship.