Creative impulse

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The Independent Online
Bates Dorland has decided to push the envelope and revise its advertising for Royal Mail special issue stamps. A new TV campaign features people talking animatedly about the subject depicted on the stamps.

The client: Royal Mail

Alistair Sharp, head of philatelic marketing

We've done about 100 TV ads already, but there has never been a campaign as such. But since we issue about eight sets of special stamps a year, it made perfect sense to mount a sustained campaign. The number of collectors is in decline, and so our campaign had to bring them back. Stamps are popular, but collecting is unpopular. It has a bad image, which we had to radically but believably change, without alienating our existing customer base. We're not targeting children, as you might imagine - they haven't much money to spend - but are going for adults aged 35 to 45, since that's the age at which people who collected when young tend to start up again.

The agency: Bates Dorland

Keith Horner, account director

Our brief was to take the anorak off the hobby. We wanted to get across that stamps are relevant to British life today, are a gateway to knowledge, and are well-designed pieces of artwork. We are showing ordinary people talking about the subject on the stamps in an unexpected, quirky way, in order to contemporise the hobby. We also wanted tension between the subjects and the people talking in order to give the commercials an ironic lift.

In the next commercial, we've got two women talking about the normally laddish subject of sports cars. Making them actresses allowed us to put them in Regency costume, to create further tension between talkers and subject. The overall message, as the new slogan says, is that "stamps stimulate".