The Grand Controls - A History
Early in 1991, Andersson called.
Why don't you give awards for mailings that are true controls... mailings that I keep seeing over and over again?
It was a brilliant idea!
After all, what is the only true measure of success for a direct mail package? Efficiency and longevity.
I immediately dubbed these The Axel Andersson Awards. Nickname: The Axels—quite fitting since in the world of figure skating, the most difficult jump of all is the Axel—named for another Swede, Axel Paulson.
The ground rules for the Axel Andersson Awards are simple: If a mailing had been received consecutively over a three-year period, it was a winner.
In the early days, we omitted financial services and charities; rather we concentrated on magazine and newsletter subscription efforts, continuity series, book and record clubs, membership efforts, merchandise sales and home study offerings. That year, 1991, we found 66 winners, and in 1992, we unearthed 49 more. Among them: Martin Conroy's "Two Young Men..." mailing for The Wall Street Journal, first mailed in 1974 and still control, having brought in well over $1 billion in subscription revenue. Amazingly, it had never won an award until its Axel.
How significant are the Axels?
Axel Andersson wrote in the forward to my 1992 book, "Million Dollar Mailings:"
My impression is that the majority of successful mailers don't want to participate in award competitions. For others, the entry cost is too high...
If many mailers spending $10 million a year or more do not enter award competitions, isn't that like the Olympics without the real star athletes?
The Axel Andersson Award is the only real, 100-percent, post-test award... because the award is given only after three years' results are in.
To pick winners, we didn't have to rely on the claims of success by mailers or agencies, nor on the opinion of judges.