Last year's headline: Agency fronts DM scholarship...

Last year’s headline: Agency fronts DM scholarship

Synopsis: Less than two months after Peter Coish, president of direct marketing agency Lowe RMP Direct lamented in the pages of Strategy DirectResponse the lack of direct marketing education provided in Canadian business schools, his agency decides to put its money where its mouth is. Challenging other DM firms to pony up, Lowe RMP helps establish the Business Sense Direct Marketing Scholarship in partnership with Business Sense, a magazine distributed free to business students across Canada. Each year, one student recipient is slated to receive a $2,500 scholarship, a full-time, entry-level summer job at Lowe RMP Direct in Toronto and return airfare from their home, if necessary.

One year later: About 40 business students submitted essays to try to win the scholarship. ‘There were about 10 that were absolutely standout and one that was clearly the winner,’ says Coish. The winner was Nadia Sapiro, an honours business administration student from the University of Western Ontario. Sapiro joined Lowe RMP for the summer and has continued working with the agency on a part-time basis during the school year. The scholarship is being offered again this year, and Coish has, once again, invited other agencies to participate in the program, although none has taken up the challenge. Anyone interested in doing so should contact Business Sense president David Sher at (416) 640-7222. Nonetheless, Coish says he’s so pleased with how things worked out that Lowe RMP is now sponsoring a student ‘think-tank’, whereby a group of students from the business school at Dalhousie University in Halifax will be flown to Toronto for a hands-on project experience at Lowe RMP.

Last year’s headline: DEL hits tenants where they live

Synopsis: Taking an uncommon approach to tenant relations, Toronto-based DEL Property Management launches a card-based loyalty program in which members can earn points by purchasing products or services from participating sponsors. The company manages 26,000 condominium and apartment units, which house some 50,000 people, in the Greater Toronto Area. Through a variety of corporate partners, the Distinctly Yours program offers tenants such benefits as free hook-up to cable Internet services offered by Shaw and Rogers, a free two-month subscription to the National Post, and discounts from moving company Tippet Richardson. Cards are distributed through on-site property managers at each of DEL’s buildings. Tenants need only supply their name and address – the card number is tied to the unit rather than the individual, so the card stays if they move. For corporate partners, the program provides a new way to gain access to the property manager’s tenants in the Toronto area.

One year later: DEL is readying a new package to promote Distinctly Yours, and is hoping that the enhanced offering will increase the program’s appeal to tenants and condominium owners alike. ‘It’s not as widely accepted as we’d like it to be at this point,’ says Allan Rosenberg, client services manager. He declined further comment, saying the company ‘would rather report on the success of the program in the spring.’

Last year’s headline: Channel 500 does business in Blighty

Synopsis: After creating 10 successful infomercials for Cantel AT&T, Toronto-based direct response television producer Channel 500 takes its telecom expertise to the U.K. The company is contracted to produce a 30-minute long-form DRTV program for BT Cellnet, the cellular division of British Telecom. Hoping to get a jump on the competition by taking advantage of increasingly relaxed restrictions on DRTV in the British market, BT Cellnet general manager Paul McAleese calls on Channel 500 to create a ‘highbrow’ infomercial for a conservative audience unaccustomed to the new advertising format. Despite the fact that only 8% of British households have cable access and could therefore watch the commercial, BT Cellnet manages to sell 22,000 cellular phones in the initial two-hour block of the infomercial broadcast.

One year later: ‘Things are going very well,’ says Rod Bell, president of Channel 500, as the business with BT Cellnet has grown to include other British Telecom divisions. Right now, the company is working on an infomercial program for an e-mail-enabled cellular phone, and is getting ready to start on a new spot for BT Cellnet focusing on the wireless application protocol. In fact, business is strong enough that Channel 500 has opened a permanent office in the U.K. that operates in partnership with Tapp, a division of Omnicom. Meanwhile, in recent months, Channel 500 has been busy pitching other companies operating in the British Isles, including Compaq, Kraft, TD Waterhouse and IBM. There’s only one challenge to unfettered growth in the U.K, Bell says, and that’s the scarcity of broadcast inventory. However, cable and satellite combined still deliver an English-speaking audience of about 26 million people. With penetration rates on the rise, the U.K. market is potentially much more lucrative than the Canadian one, Bell adds.