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Ohio Branding Agency Wins First Deliver® M.A.I.L. Award


Close up of Blue Octo direct mail sample

Ohio Branding Agency Wins First Deliver® M.A.I.L. Award

Your client makes pumps. Big blue pumps. They’re unveiling a new line of submersible pumps at their annual trade show in a few months, and they want your agency, Mlicki, to make the launch exciting and, well, interesting.

Your solution? Noting that Gorman-Rupp’s new “Infinity” pumps are octagonal in design, you propose creating a mythical, fantastic creature called “Blue Octo” and an imaginary team of researchers who track its relentless movement toward the Water Environment Federation’s WEFTEC 2010 convention in New Orleans.

Their reaction? “Outside the marketing people of the company, there was a little concern,” admits Jason Mlicki, president of the Columbus, Ohio–based branding agency that bears his name.

Unwarranted concern, as it turned out. Not only did “The Blue Octo Exists” campaign achieve all of Gorman-Rupp’s marketing objectives, but the direct mail component of the integrated campaign is the winner of Deliver magazine’s first Marketing Achievement in Innovation and Leadership (M.A.I.L.) Award for creative use of direct mail and achievement of desired results.

Rolled out between June and the WEFTEC event in October 2010, the campaign merged a microsite, social media, print advertising and e-mail with direct mail to drive awareness and interest around the new “Infinity” line and create a sizable increase in foot traffic at the Gorman-Rupp convention booth.

The direct mail piece — a multipage, four-color folder designed to look like a government-style classified dossier of “Blue Octo” sightings by the team named G.R.A.N.D. (Gorman-Rupp Advanced Nature Detectives) — was sent to more than 3,000 key customers and distributors.

It was intended “to showcase the first ‘photographic evidence’ of the Blue Octo’s recent movements obtained by G.R.A.N.D.,” says Mlicki creative director John Randle. “We wanted recipients to question the authenticity of it in a ‘wait, is this real?’ sort of way, to get them involved in the rest of the story.”

Delivered at a total cost of $10,000, including creative and printing charges, the direct mail component generated a 10-percent response rate based on visits to the microsite. It was the glue that tied the campaign together, according to Mlicki.

“Our digital stuff is a little broad, our advertising is a bit broad, but we know our mail can be targeted to the people we want to be interacting with,” says Mlicki, leader of the family-owned agency, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2012. “We put direct mail in almost every campaign like that. We view it as a high-impact opportunity because people can gloss over stuff on the web and in print, but mail’s going right on their desk. We have the chance to really catch their attention and interrupt them a little more than we can in some other media.”

Mlicki’s greatest challenge may have been simply convincing Gorman-Rupp management that “Blue Octo” was a winning concept. “Their marketing people liked it very quickly,” Mlicki says. “The good thing was, leadership trusted marketing to make this decision even though they weren’t completely convinced it was the right direction.

“Fortunately, the results were great. The leadership was at the trade show and saw direct results very quickly from the activity at the booth. It was a big sigh of relief that ‘OK, this was a good idea.’”

Good enough to earn the first M.A.I.L. Award. “We have two goals with every client engagement: Deliver the best creative work we’re capable of and achieve the client’s business goals,” Mlicki says. “Winning the M.A.I.L. Award is particularly rewarding because it was structured to reward work that accomplishes both our goals.”

View a video on the entire campaign on Mlicki’s website.

Creativity, Integrated Marketing, Medium Business, Small Business, Social Media, Strategy