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Upperkut Ad Agency

Ad-Agency Agnostics Become Believers after Email Rakes in Results for HanesBrands

In the midst of managing a 2009 marketing campaign to hail the 70th birthday of the Wonderbra brand, Catherine Aumais was skeptical.

The apparel company Hanesbrands Inc. had just asked Upperkut — the Montreal advertising and social-marketing agency where Aumais is director of client services — to design an email effort that would alert customers to its Wonderbra anniversary co-promotion sale with Walmart Canada in July.

The Maple-Leaf campaign for the brand was a natural. After all, Montrealer Louise Poirier invented the famous “plunge and push” technology of the modern Wonderbra in 1964, and Moses Nadler, founder of the Canadian Lady Corset Company, trademarked the Wonderbra name for the Canadian market in 1939. No wonder then — according to a recent CBC poll — the undergarment is the fifth most-popular invention ever wrought by a Canadian.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Wonderbra’s current owner Hanesbrands thought it should take advantage of the large bank of email addresses it had collected from Canadian customers for Wonderbra and its other lingerie lines.

Although skeptical about the usefulness of email as a marketing tactic, Aumais and her colleagues at Upperkut could hardly be labeled electronic-marketing neophytes. In fact, the agency specializes in cutting-edge social-media tools like Facebook and YouTube.

“We had doubts about the effectiveness of email-based promotions,” Aumais admitted. During its 10-year history, she said, Upperkut had rarely recommended email as a promotional tool.

At the suggestion of agency president Serge Leathed, however, Aumais ran a reality check on the client request with Michael Quigley at Cypra Media, the permission-based email marketing, data-management, and delivery-services company in Montreal. Quigley put Aumais and her colleagues at ease when he assured them that, with Cypra’s turnkey Managed Email Deployment Services, Hanesbrands’ email-bank addresses could be appropriately analyzed and segmented well before email messages were ever sent.

Intrigued, Aumais turned over to Cypra an Upperkut-designed and written newsletter highlighting the Wonderbra anniversary sale at Walmart. Cypra’s resident email experts collaborated with Aumais to apply a best-practice framework around the creative details, and legal compliancy rules such as the subject line, aesthetics and layout, and opt-out wording. Only then did Cypra test the campaign, deploy it, and finally report the results.

The open rates for the email promotion — 33 percent overall — exceeded Upperkut’s expectations and represented “a benchmark that will only improve with subsequent optimizations,” according to Makrem Galouzi, Cypra’s business development manager.

Meanwhile, Hanesbrands was so pleased that it requested the deployment of a second email program – a family vacation contest from Hanes and Walt Disney World – in August.

For her part, Aumais is no longer skeptical of the power of permission-based email. She cited Cypra’s “turnkey solution, good price, excellent specs and security” as the four main reasons why, in September, the agency signed a reseller agreement to tap Cypra Managed Email Deployment Services for Upperkut clients who make email a key part of their marketing mix.

“Like Upperkut, Cypra has a culture of client collaboration and personal service. It’s a good fit,” she said.