Judging for the 2014 Direct Marketing Association International ECHO Awards is in full swing, and marketers across the world are vying to be recognized for their creative data-driven marketing campaigns. Chet Dalzell, chair of the Marketing Communications & Public Outreach Strategy Working Group of the DMA Committee on Environment and Social Responsibility, recently published an article in Target Marketing Magazine discussing the power of creative campaigns, as exemplified by past ECHO winners.

For Dalzell, one of the most memorable 2013 ECHO winners was the German non-profit organization, Chill Out. Chill Out, which provides drug prevention programs for schools, used a unique direct mail campaign to educate schools about the dangers of drug addiction in young children. Choosing 120 school administrators within its target audience, Chill Out mailed a simple pencil box—or so it seemed.

“What was inside the pencil box was dummy drug paraphernalia, an indication that what looks innocent on the outside can hide dangers within,” writes Dalzell. “The blunt uneasiness of the campaign communicated both urgency and immediacy, and a means for schools to combat this growing problem—affecting one child in seven—head on.”

The interior of the pencil box also included how to contact Chill Out. The school administrators took notice—and action.

Dalzell writes, “The dimensional mailing, created for Chill Out by Wunderman Germany, generated stellar impact: Of 120 schools sent the mail piece in the German state of Brandenburg, 48 contacted Chill Out, and 29 schools now have integrated the Chill Out drug prevention program.” That’s a 40 percent response rate, and a subsequent conversion rate of more than 60 percent.

At the 2013 ECHO gala, Chill Out was awarded the U.S. Postal Service-sponsored Gold Mailbox Award, which recognizes the most innovative use of direct mail.

Dalzell concludes, “When the list is accurate, the message relevant—and the creative discerning—engagement happens. Direct mail has power to arrest, to stimulate and to motivate action, especially when it dares to be different.”

For more information, visit the 2014 ECHO Awards website.

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