If looks could sell…

The Design Effectiveness Awards have shown design’s capacity to sell products independently of any ad campaign. Pamela Buxton looks at some of the winners’ impressive track records

Who needs advertising when you’ve got good design? Not, apparently, Psion, the Grand Prix winner of the 1998 DBA/Marketing Week Design Effectiveness Awards, announced this week.

Psion postponed the ad campaign for its Series 5 model of portable computer after demand outstripped supply in the first few weeks of its launch in 1997. The product, designed by Therefore, outsold its predecessor by more than 40 per cent in its first year.

These sorts of statistics appeal to DEA judges, who look for evidence of commercial success driven by design innovation rather than other marketing techniques.

Series 5, which also won the best consumer product category, was a clear winner. Therefore, a 30-strong London consultancy has designed for Psion since it set up five years ago. For Series 5, it worked with Psion to develop the hardware for the pocket-sized device, the first product to incorporate the Symbian software operating system developed by Psion in conjunction with mobile phone companies.

The judges were impressed by the ease of use of the touch-sensitive, pen-operated screen and the slim ergonomics. Therefore developed a new hard-key keyboard and introduced an anti-tip design to give the Psion stability when used with the new pen.

Similarly, The Body Shop’s Hemp range of skincare products, one of the packaging category winners, had no advertising support apart from point-of-sale, and went on to represent just less than 5 per cent of global sales.

Designed in-house on a budget of just 7000, the range already includes three of The Body Shop’s ten best sellers. Judges were taken with the huge amount of press coverage it has gained since March, when journalists were given packets of hemp seeds at the launch but told that they were forbidden to grow them in the UK.

Others among the award winners represent further impressive examples of business effectiveness. Corporate Edge’s information design for British Gas turned the humble gas bill into a marketing tool, resulting in a 29 per cent fall in customer calls on bill clarification and an increase in direct debit take-up of 196 per cent.

Waterstone’s scooped awards for both point-of-sale and retail interiors, achieving a 75 per cent rise in trading in Glasgow, while Wickens Tutt Southgate’s packaging for Nouvelle toilet tissue revived the declining brand to a position of second fastest growing brand in the Nielson brand report.

The prize winners

Grand Prix

Psion and Therefore for Psion Series Environmental Award

Easington District Council and Elmwood for Paperboy recycling campaign

Corporate identity (more than 1m)

Partek and Lloyd Northover Citigate for the Partek corporate identity

Corporate identity (less than 1m)

The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys and FLB for The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys identity

Mencap and Interbrand Newell and Sorrell for the Blue Sky Appeal


(branded food/drink)

Pasta Reale and WFCA Integrated for Ristorante range

Bauducco & CIA and Lewis Moberly for Christmas Panettone Tin

Packaging (branded non-food)

Port James UK and Wickens Tutt Southgate for Nouvelle

Packaging (own-brand non-food)

The Body Shop for Hemp skincare range

Product design (consumer)

Psion and Therefore for Psion Series Product design (industrial)

Kimberly-Clark Europe and Hothouse Product Design for Roll Control

Interiors (office and commercial)

BT and Cobalt Design for BT Connection Centre

Interiors (retail)

Waterstone’s and BDG McColl for Waterstone’s Glasgow store

Interiors (leisure)

Yo! Team in association with

4i for Yo! Sushi


Ford of Europe and Imagination for the Ford stand at the Geneva International Auto Show of 1998

Literature (corporate)

The Zoological Society and Four IV for annual reports

Literature (consumer)

Easington District Council and Elmwood for Paperboy recycling campaign

Literature (business to business)

Signbox and Red Echo for Signbox brochures

Information design (print)

British Gas and Corporate Edge for the British Gas bill

Information design (IT)

BT and Rufus Leonard for www.bt.com


Waterstone’s and Interbrand Newell and Sorrell for Books of the Century campaign

Design for Good

Mencap and Interbrand Newell and Sorrell for Blue Sky Appeal

Prince Philip Designers Prize 1998

Martin Lambie-Nairn for outstanding contribution to design

Also shortlisted: Ron Arad, Peter Clegg, Nigel Coates,Trevor Crisp (head of design at Jaguar Cars), Ken Garland, Malcolm Garrett, Jasper Morrison

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