Imitrex design built awareness

In this special report, Strategy asks a cross-section of creative directors and copywriters to respond to a series of questions on direct marketing creative. The 10 interviewed are among those whose campaigns were awarded a gold at the Canadian Direct Marketing...

In this special report, Strategy asks a cross-section of creative directors and copywriters to respond to a series of questions on direct marketing creative. The 10 interviewed are among those whose campaigns were awarded a gold at the Canadian Direct Marketing Association’s 1992 RSVP Awards, held recently in Toronto. The report opens with Fransi Weistein, creative director at Ogilvy & Mather Direct, whose campaign for Glaxo Canada’s migraine medication Imitrex picked up the award for best envelope and a gold in the pharmaceutical category.

Client: Glaxo Canada

Product: Imitrex

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Direct

A recent direct marketing campaign for Glaxo Canada’s migraine medication Imitrex used the triangular shape of the drug’s logo to create strong brand awareness, says Fransi Weinstein, creative director at Toronto-based Ogilvy & Mather Direct.


The flap on the back of the large square envelope was triangular, the envelope was sealed with the triangular Imitrex logo and the envelope used a triangular window.

‘Not only did we get response, but we created awareness as well,’ Weinstein says.

In one mailing, the triangular window married a trepanation tool, a device used by doctors centuries ago to gouge flesh and bone from the skull of a migraine sufferer, to the modern-day Imitrex injector.

The mailing was sent to 20,000 general practictioners, specialists and pharmacists.

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

A. No. 1, it’s a terrific product. The creative was impactful and they responded to that. And it was synergistic with trade advertising, so we got more mileage for our money.

It also went to the right audience. No matter how great a package it is, if I’m not interested in the product, I’m not going to reply. If it’s something I’m dying to have, you could send it in a paper bag.

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

A. It’s rational. We were going to doctors. The most important thing we have to do in that situation is reassure them it’s a safe, effective drug for them to be prescribing. Had we been going to patients, it could have been emotional.

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

A. There’s one that Ogilvy did in New York for Pepperidge Farm cookies.

It was chocolate on one side, and a cookie on the other. They set up a ‘delicious debate.’ They rented a list of chocolate lovers’ names and asked people to vote – is it a cookie or is it a chocolate?

It was very involving, and we know that in direct response, if you can get the audience involved, that really helps.

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

A. They’ve got a great list. They’ve got a great offer. The tone and manner is relevant, both from the company it’s coming from and the person it is going to.

I have judged a lot of international awards and I have seen packages from all over the world, in languages that I’ll never speak, and I can tell what makes them work.

You can see the tone and manner. And when you see who they sent it to, you know why it’s been successful.

Q. How important is personalizing the letter?

A. If you are only going to personalize one piece, it should be the reply device, for ease of enrolment.

In an ideal world, you would personalize the letter and the reply device.

The one thing we’re finding is personalizing an outer envelope doesn’t necessarily lift response.

Q. Do you favor long or short letters?

A. In a business-to-business environment, shorter is better.

When you’re writing to me at home, and you’re talking to me about something I’m really interested in, like travel, you can get a little bit longer, because I have time.

There are classic direct mail letters that have pulled millions of dollars for clients that are 15 pages long, but they are brilliantly written and there is not one extra word.

Q.How important to the success of the direct mail piece is knowing your prospects?

A. The more you know about the people you are writing to, the better your letter is going to be. You’re not going to be wasting their time. And your chances of success are that much greater.

The letter in a direct mail package is the sales call. So you have to imagine what you would say to someone if you were face to face with them, or over the telephone.

It’s overcoming any objections they might have, it’s creating need. If you know what the triggers are, your chances of getting a response are that much greater.

The direct marketing writer’s best friend is advanced database technology.

Q. People are bombarded with direct mail offers every day. How do you make yours stand out from the rest?

A. It has to be relevant. I might get 50 different packages in the mail.

Something of interest

If there’s something there about cats, I’m going to open it up, because I’m interested in cats. So, No. 1, it has to be something I’m interested in, then it has to be intriguing enough for me to open it.

So, there’s a lot of onus on the envelope. And there are various methods you can use.

You can send them in tubes, or put teasers on the envelope, you can mail it first class and put stamps on them so people don’t think it’s bulk mail.

Those are the issues we deal with every day.

Q. Is there a hierarchy of objectives, creatively?

A. When we sit down to do a job, the most important thing is to come up with a package that’s relevant to who it’s going to.

The better the offer, the better the chances of success. The tone and manner have to be right. You need a strong offer or a strong idea.

Sometimes the idea is just to send a letter in a No. 10 business envelope with a window, because you are trying to communicate a very businesslike, simple communication.

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

A. That’s our whole purpose in life. To buy the product immediately, or request more information. If we don’t get you to do that, we’re not doing our job.

We have to make it clear to you what we want you to do, and we have to do that up front.

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

A. I don’t think we necessarily have to be support.

We did a package for Seagram’s for their Mumm’s champagne brand. Research proved that brand awareness went up 44% as a result of this mailing.

There are times when direct is a support for awareness advertising. There are times when awareness advertising is support for direct.

And there are times when direct is doing two things – creating awareness and selling product.

Q. How are the rules changing in direct mail? What are you doing in creative that you might not have done two years ago?

A. We are employing a lot of the principles of good awareness advertising and marrying them with the disciplines of direct marketing.

We now have many packaged goods companies coming to us as clients – that’s a great opportunity and a great testimony to what we are doing.

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

A. They were all very respectful of their audiences.