Ready, steady, go

AJ is helping lifestyle women’s clothing brand, Mistral, break new ground in their upcoming recruitment campaign.

Mistral is born and bred Wiltshire, with stores situated predominantly in the south and west.  With a brief to grow their customer base nationwide, AJ has put together a multi-platform media campaign including great new creative, targeted at Mistral’s female, ABC1, 35+ target audience.  Now in the starting blocks, the campaign is timed with the launch of Mistral’s new autumn collection.

Using a small test budget, AJ’s plan includes a combination of press, direct mail and inserts.  We’re confident we’ve found the best fit for the women we’re seeking and competitive deals for our client. Press kicks off in mid-September, with the first of three direct mailings accompanying it.

And we love our new creative. Each mailing tells the story behind an individual fabric design.  With a client passionate about colour and print, our talented creative team had a field day producing the new artwork.

Feast your eyes.

The mailings feature a collection of new pieces, reflecting the company’s ‘style me’ offer of putting together the look for you.  How often do you buy a piece of clothing then realise you have nothing to wear with it?  Mistral’s approach provides the solution.

Together with a compelling offer, the mailings are tasked with drawing in direct sales to Mistral’s website.

Like what you see? Learn more about how we can produce the right creative for you. Contact Ann Gardiner on 01225 758222 or email


The hills are alive with the sound of….customers

Following All or nothing – which are you? we take a further look at how we help our clients find some hilly high points between the seasonal mountain peaks.

Becoming year-round advertisers has given our previously ‘seasonal’ clients a markedly increased return on investment.  It’s made a big difference to their bottom line and taken the pressure off the dips in trade at what had been quieter times of year.  Where turnover had fallen historically, and cashflow tightened, we’ve maintained successful campaigns, albeit with reduced spend.

How do we do it?

  • Learn from previous results and repeat only the best performing ads when spend is reduced
  • Book the typically more cost effective smaller sizes, allowing frequency to be maintained
  • Take advantage of the very best late space deals, aiming to beat the typical short-term rates
  • Stick to the tried and tested – this is not the time to take risks or attempt anything new
  • Encourage clients to increase their offers or discounts

As a result, reading light specialist, Serious Readers, now advertises all year, doubling their annual budget.  Similarly, market leader in quality cashmere knitwear products, the Cashmere Centre, has extended its advertising beyond its traditional pre-Christmas period.  The company now advertises through January, into a reduced, but consistent, spend during spring and summer.  By doing this, it’s been able to promote a different range of products, appropriate for the time of year; an approach it’s never tried before.  While Christmas still remains its premium time of year, with gifts forming a large portion of its business, the company’s quiet times are now not so quiet – a major step forward for any business.

If you would us to review your media schedule and find some hills among the mountains, we’d love to help.  Contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or


Up close and personal

Brexit would indicate the majority of Brits value independence.  Is the same true for agencies and their clients?

When AJ asked its clients to rate the agency’s performance (Checking in), attributes such as responsiveness, speed and approachability rated highly.  We put that down, in part, to being independent.

In an independent agency, the approval process is stream-lined; comprising only the client rather than the layers of internal bureaucracy networks can demand.  Our ability to respond and change direction is more like a speedboat than a battleship.

An independent agency also has the ability to remain focused on a client’s needs.  We spend time with clients and their campaigns; it’s personal, tailored and collaborative.  The resulting closeness prevents misunderstanding and creates an easier working relationship for clients and agency alike.  Together with a heightened transparency and accountability, clients are confident we’re working for them.   We have ‘skin in the game’ – our business growth is dependent on our clients’ business growth.

For us, the benefits of independence are clear.  We can allocate resources as we see fit within the company, without hard-earned profits disappearing into an unknown distant pot.   Our responsiveness and speed can be internal as well as external, having the freedom to do what we feel is right, making choices based on our own needs, as well as those of our clients.

As an independent agency, we can stay 100% true to ourselves.  We only have the boundaries we choose to put on ourselves, only abide by our own rules and don’t have to ask permission from anyone but ourselves and our clients.

We get up close and personal simply because we can.


We never give up

AJ never gives up trying to improve results for clients; it’s one of the reasons Donald Russell came back to us.

AJ’s single-minded goal of growing clients’ business has paid dividends for Donald Russell.  Continuing our case study of how we’ve turned their results around and re-ignited their faith in press, here’s how the last few weeks have panned out.

Optimisation of control

Optimised control






The new ‘control’ ad is an adaptation of the existing version, but includes some important brand elements missing from the original.

Development of new creative

We established fairly early on the ‘Cut Above’ ad was far better looking than the control, but focused too much on brand and beauty, not enough on offer.  It appealed more to existing customers than the new customers we are charged with recruiting.  To address this imbalance, we switched the balance of the ad to 60/40 in favour of the offer.  Bingo!  The revised version attracted 75% more orders than the original.

Original Cut Above
60/40 adaptation








Increasing the options

Cut Above with Butcher

We are also testing an alternative version of ‘Cut Above’, adding a butcher to the image.  The jury is still out, but it looks like this has performed better than the original ‘Cut Above’.  We are re-testing it this weekend.

OTP Results

So on the creative front, we now have an optimised ‘control ad’ working really well in newspapers, and we’re refining the ‘Cut Above’ ad, which appears happiest in magazines.

Hitting milestones

During the last three months of this journey, while busy testing and refining, we’ve also hit a couple of impressive milestones.  Having tested five creatives, 12 titles and three sizes, with a total spend of over £20k, we have come in under the target cost per new customer and recruited our 1000th OTP new customer.   We’ve also learnt a huge amount so feel well prepared for increase spends during Donald Russell’s key winter period.

This is an encouragingly positive position to be in with a client who had almost given up on press as a cost-effective recruitment channel.