Success for AJ and its clients

AJ clients featured time and again among the business winners celebrated this week at the inaugural Express Home and Living Awards.

At a sumptuous lunch for 350 in Covent Garden’s elegant De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, AJ found itself on the podium three times collecting awards for clients; more than any other agency attending the awards ceremony.

AJ’s Ann Gardiner and Jack Gillett

Alongside agency giants such as Mediacom and Mediavest, AJ punched well above its weight positioning its clients successfully in a range of categories. AJ’s well-crafted entries ensured its clients’ top-quality products and services were recognised up against well-known brand names such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.

AJ’s co-owner and Client Services Director, Ann Gardiner, hosted the agency’s table at the Awards:

“I’m so proud of what AJ and our clients achieved here today. I am pretty sure our table won the most awards, which shows just how well we stack up against larger, London-based agencies.”

David Salisbury triumphed as Best Outdoor Building Supplier.  The judges recognised the company’s unrivalled technical innovation, describing its orangeries and outdoor rooms as ‘top quality, thermally efficient and designed to fit around customers’ lifestyles’.

New AJ client, Dream Doors picked up two awards, taking out the Best Money Saving Product and Best Kitchen Supplier awards.  This is great news for a company looking to improve results, having recently appointed AJ to revive its direct response campaign.  These awards underline its position as a leading supplier of stylish replacement doors, transforming kitchens at an affordable price.

AJ client finalists:

  • Best Money-Saving Product             Kinetico Water Systems
  • Best Money-Saving Product             Dream Doors
  • Best Outdoor Living Furniture          Out & Out Original
  • Best Outdoor Building Supplier        David Salisbury
  • Best Outdoor Building Supplier        Eden Verandas
  • Best Retirement Living Solution      Nationwide Mobility
  • Best Kitchen Supplier                        Dream Doors


Frequency or coverage: which is best?

Media owners often tell us their readers need to see an ad several times before it’ll gain traction, but we beg to differ.

Media owners claim frequency builds a successful campaign, with readers needing to see an ad at least three times to secure a decent response.  With a limited budget, this suggests you’re better putting all your eggs in the one basket of your best targeted title.  You build your brand with just one readership, believing in return you’ll be rewarded with response.

In reality, we find quite the opposite is true.  The first ad we run in almost any title gives the highest response rate, becoming the target chased by subsequent insertions.

As a result, with limited budget, we take a ‘far and wide’ approach rather than ‘tall and thin’.  We test as many titles as possible showing strong coverage for the identified target audience.

New client, Dream Doors, is the latest to try this change of approach.  Traditionally, they’ve put all their money into the Daily Mail, but with flagging results, they’re keen to try our broader approach.  Our first schedule includes 14 titles so we’re expecting some interesting comparisons.

Full page, Daily Telegraph Magazine
Half page, Sunday Express
Full page, Guardian Weekend

We’re confident we’ll see a lift in their results, and look forward to reporting back when we do.

To discuss replacing your restricted media schedule with one aiming far and wide, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or

Location, location, location

Location has come to dominate house-buying. Can it be lucrative for advertisers too?

There is a direct correlation between position and response rate, so AJ works hard to secure its clients prime sites.  Despite buying short term and in classified, we often achieve sites under or facing matter without paying extra.

But is it worth paying more for these positions through a campaign or just when trying to build a brand?  The answer probably lies somewhere between the two – the ideal being prime sites bought last minute below market rate.

Cover positions are seen, theoretically, by every reader.  Our results reflect this with ads placed on the outside back cover (OBC) gaining a response four times higher than a site under editorial within the classified weekend section.  As long as we’re not paying 400% more for this site, it’s a winner.

In contrast, ads in display, i.e. nearer the front of the paper, do not generate the necessary high-level response required to justify the increased price.  Time and time again we see prime, solus sites, such as front or back covers, working for direct response.

Not surprisingly, it’s been a hard sell to clients, but we’ve converted scepticism into enthusiasm with good results.  They are now snapping up these sites as fast as we can secure them.

We saw one of best results this year for knitwear specialists, the Cashmere Centre, with a 10 x 8 front page strip in the Telegraph exceeding ROI by 40%.

Daily Telegraph 10 x 8 Front page strip

Also in the Telegraph, quality meat producers, Donald Russell are keen advocates of 25 x 4 ads under food and drink editorial on a Saturday, with a circulation 15% higher than mid-week.  To expand their options, we tested a mid-week OBC.  It hit the target for new customers by the end of Tuesday and is still going.

Daily Telegraph 25 x 4 OBC
Daily Mail 15 x 2

Even a small 15 x 2 OBC in the Daily Mail, which costs more than a half page in classified, generated three times more leads for our new client, Dream Doors.

Encouraged by the success these positions are bringing AJ’s clients, you’ll be seeing us use plenty more of them.

To discuss how the right ‘location’ can bring success to your campaign, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or

Buy local – does it apply to advertising?

‘Buy local’ is a common catchphrase used by food producers these days.  But does is also apply to advertising?

The short answer is YES.

Kinetico is a leading UK designer and manufacturer of water softeners.  The ability to advertise regionally is an attractive option given their products are tailored to those in harder water areas.  Geographically-targeted advertising protects against the inevitable wastage seen with a more widespread approach.

To address their need for more specific advertising, AJ ran a campaign for Kinetico using the Telegraph’s postcode targeting tool.  Kinetico works through a series of dealers throughout the country.  This targeted tool enabled AJ to tailor each insert to detail the local dealer on each one.  These versions of the insert, all 18 of them, ran against the test copy, with a generic message, giving Kinetico’s contact details.

Local dealer insert
Generic Kinetico insert

The results clearly show it pays to think global, act local, with a 100% higher response rate to the localised version.  Building on this success, AJ is planning a second campaign, adding in the Royal Mail door-to-door service, using specified postcode areas.

Find out about our extensive experience of using inserts as an additional vehicle for lead generation through Look and feel: why inserts work and I is for inserts, and by contacting Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or