Judging the Echo Awards (1,302 words)
by Lois K. Geller
Just imagine. You open up your mailbox and find a silver sack envelope—the kind that newspapers sometimes come in. You open it up and there's a newspaper—at least it feels like a newspaper—but wait, it's entirely blank except for the name on the masthead. An attached response card reads, "You fill this in and we'll fill you in." It's a really unique approach to selling a newspaper subscription, because you're holding it in your hand and you really want to read it.
Having spent two days judging The 2000 Direct Marketing Association's International ECHO Award final submissions, I am completely excited about the programs I've seen and all of the possibilities for new breakthrough creative strategies we can do for our own direct marketing clients.
"The ECHOS," as they are called, are awarded by The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA). ECHO entries are judged on three components: "brilliant strategy, breakthrough creative and outstanding results." The ECHOS are an international competition, and this year The DMA received 877 entries. I participated in the judging of the 168 finalists. It's always fun to do it, because it gets my creative juices flowing.
When you go into the judging room at The DMA, all the ECHO award entries are placed on tables by category; the judges can sit down at a table and review Business-to-Business Direct Mail, Business-to-Consumer Direct Mail, Interactive and Catalog Programs, among other categories. Each entry includes statements which review the specific marketplace challenge, the strategy, the tactics, an overview of the creative strategy, the cost and size of the program and the actual results. I learn so much every year that I am grateful that Terri Edwards, manager of The International ECHO Awards Competition, asks me to judge.
This year's entries were so exciting that I decided to devote this month's column to some of the strategies and tactics that I think really stood out from the rest of the work I saw. You can view the direct response campaign winners at The DMA Convention in New Orleans, or check out the ECHO Web site, www.dma-ECHO.org.