Last night's 26th edition of the annual NZ Direct Marketing Awards at Auckland's Langham Hotel was a lavish affair, which was hosted by comedian Ben Hurley and the Marketing Association's chief executive Sue McCarty, who recently resigned from her position.
Over the course of the evening, Hurley and McCarty distributed a total of 41 awards, which were grouped into five different categories: Industry Awards, Channel Awards, Craft Awards, Nexus Awards, Special Awards and Post Student Marketer of the Year.
With 12 different awards up for grabs, the Industry Awards category was the biggest of the evening. Interestingly, this category also featured the most even distribution of awards, with each of the dozen gongs going to a different agency.
When it came to the Channel Awards, the distribution of gongs became slightly less democratic as DraftFCB and ColensoBBDO/Proximity walked away with five of the nine awards on offer.
Colenso's three awards were won for its work on the Samsung and Frucor accounts, while DraftFCB's pair of awards were won for the agency's work on the Mitre 10 'Making DIY easy as' campaign and on the 'What's my Number?' campaign for the Electricity Authority.
Of all the gongs in the Channel category, none was more coveted than the the Grand Prix Award, which eventually went to Colenso for its work on the Samsung account.
The judges called the 'Smart Phone Line' campaign a “compelling winner” and said that it was a "modern and dynamic campaign built on solid direct marketing principles."
Colenso's other two golds came in the campaign website, and the social media and viral categories.
Interestingly, the use of the word "viral" raised a few eyebrows around the room, with some attendees pointing out that by definition the blanket appeal of viral marketing is the exact opposite of the highly targeted approach prevalent in direct marketing.
As the awards ceremony moved on to the Nexus category, Colenso suffered a bit of frustration, as the agency won four silvers for its work on the Samsung, Amnesty International and Frucor Beverages accounts, and only a single gold in the media and/or channel utilisation category.
The number of runner-up positions for Colenso in this category caused Hurley to quip, "well they certainly are the bridesmaids of the evening."
And if Colenso was the bridesmaid, then this undoubtedly made iSite Media the bride of the Nexus Awards category. The first-time entrant won four gold awards, including the prestigious Nexus Supreme.
Given that iSite Media specialises in outdoor advertising – once again not a typical channel used by direct marketers – it was interesting to see the agency walk away with so many awards.
The judges did however point out that the decision to award iSite Media in all the listed categories came down to agency's clever use of bus route data, which helped to ensure that bus-based advertising was seen by the target market.
"The judging panel said that iSite Media's “brilliant and complex analytics [were] packaged beautifully into a simple and usable product that propels outdoor media into the measurable and targeted world of direct marketing."
In a release, iSite Media's head of freshness (not made up) said that it was fantastic to be recognised for the team's hard work.
“The vision of the project was clear: to deliver increased measurability that our customers were demanding and provide planning tools that improve the effectiveness of bus advertising,” he said.
As the evening moved across to the Craft Awards section – which honours the creative aspects of campaigns – there was once again a more even spread of winners, but both Colenso and Barnes, Catmur & Friends walked away with pair of gongs.
Colenso's awards for best digital art direction and the most innovative work were both won for the agency's work on the 'Trial by Timeline' campaign for Amnesty International, while Barnes, Catmur and Friends won both its awards (for best digital copywriting and best creative) for the 'Honesty Box' campaign for Boundary Road Brewery.
DraftFCB, Clemenger, Unity ID (part of AffinityID) and Republik took home the other awards in this category.
Throughout the course of the event, there was low hum of activity as attendees spent the evening chatting among themselves. However, as the event moved into the special awards section, the murmuring died down and everyone became attentive, as they waited to find out who would win the two coveted awards on offer.
For the second year, a kiwi retailer won the Keith Norris Direct Marketing Organisation of the Year Award, with Farmers Trading Company pipping ANZ Bank to take the award.
“Farmers have made giant strides in taking concepts and strategy into transactional reality through remarkable use of data and single customer view”, said the judges. “They have turned a very traditional organisation into one that embraces sophisticated data-driven marketing strategies. Clearly, direct marketing and insight is deeply embedded in the organisation’s DNA.”
The award also meant a lot to last year's RSVP Grand Prix winner JustONE, which collaborated with Farmers in establishing the retailer's successful loyalty marketing initiative.
"We're stoked for Farmers," said .99/JustONE managing director Ben Goodale. "Farmers Club has become such a central pillar of their marketing and it was great to be there on stage with them to share".
When it came to the individual category, BP’s head of loyalty marketing Fiona Stewart was also honoured as she won the Direct Marketer of the Year award.
"Fiona whose vision over the past 12 months has been to unwrap the potential of BP’s customer base, enabling the company to redefine their view of knowing who their customers are – and what they want," commented the members of the panel.
The final awards of the evening were reserved for the industry's newcomers, as three AUT students – Jenny Ha, Sarah Mee and Ashton Young – approached the stage to claim the New Zealand Post Student Marketer of the Year Award for their work on the 'Back to School Juggle' campaign for the YMCA.
But the event did not end after the final award was handed out. Simone Iles, the head of customer data and direct marketing solutions at New Zealand Post, then took to the stage to thank Sue McCarty for her contribution as the organisation's chief executive over the last six years.
To see a full list of the gold, silver and bronze winners, please click here.