Oxfam, direct mail and the ‘three Ws’

How bees helped us weave Ws into Oxfam’s direct mail

When Oxfam made us their new direct mail partner, we knew our first mail pack had to impress. So we started by really getting to know one of the best-known organisations on the planet.

What are the three Ws?

No, not World Wide Web, ‘women, water and work’. These are Oxfam’s three development priorities, and these are what we knew we had to focus our mail pack on.

Unusually, the first word out of the creatives' mouths was ‘caution’ – we were all very aware that this appeal could be mistaken as an emergency. True, Oxfam had made emergency appeals through direct mail in the past, and these had been very successful – but we were weren’t satisfied with just achieving success, we were chasing more important targets.

Our approach needed to be bigger. It needed to be bolder. It needed to be braver.

The golden nugget

But how would we make this pack stand out? We had to find the perfect balance between a striking direct mail appeal, and something that was unmistakably Oxfam.

So we scoured our case study, looking for something that would inspire our creative approach – a golden nugget. We found what we were looking for nestled deep in the heart of the story about… beekeeping.

Our golden nugget this time had black stripes and went buzz.

The other side of aid

To challenge the worldview of our audience, we opened our story in rural Africa. Not with images of despair, dehydration and destitution, but of hard work, ingenuity and cool attitudes.

Of course we needed to raise funds, but we pledged to forego emotion in the appeal and instead make our ask as rational as possible. We decided to market Oxfam’s resolutions as products, tangible things that were the obvious solutions to our case study's problems.

Off to a great start

Our rational approach, stripped-back pack and gorgeous photography have helped to define a new approach for Oxfam's direct mail campaigns.

We clearly had the right idea, we told ourselves, as we watched the campaign smash target after target. This pack, our first for Oxfam, raised a total of £139,924, with an ROI of 2.81 and a response rate 0.17% above the industry average. How's that for first impressions?

5th May 2016


Direct Mail


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