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03 . 02 . 22

M&C Saatchi’s ‘letters home’ campaign wins a DMA Gold

Words by: Print Power
DMA Awards 2021 Winner

AGENCY M&C Saatchi
BRAND The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
CATEGORY Best use of unaddressed print
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How did the Commonwealth War Graves Commission get a younger audience to participate in the very first War Graves Week? Through the emotive power of the written word in printed ‘letters home’ form. Print Power spoke to M&C Saatchi’s Executive Creative Director Matt Lee about their DMA Awards Gold-winning advertising campaign.

Is there anything that so poignantly brings to life the horrors, hardship and heartbreak of life on the frontline in both wars than letters sent from the trenches to home? Those words made real the camaraderie, bravery, interminable suffering and loss of soldiers writing home to their families and loved ones. So much so, that even in reading them today, you can’t fail to be moved by their highly personal and powerful description of war.

 It's the power of the written word in printed ‘letters home’ form that agency M&C Saatchi harnessed for their client The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to create awareness of the first ever War Graves Week. With over 300,000 casualties commemorated across the UK, there is more than likely a Commonwealth war grave on your doorstep.

 The pandemic meant gatherings and memorials were limited or cancelled, so the CWGC was struggling to get a new and younger audience to participate at local and online events. They had to rethink how to get their message across.


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We wanted to educate. And in order to do that, we needed to generate word-of-mouth in the areas where War Graves Week events were taking place,’ says Executive Creative Director for M&C Saatchi Matt Lee. ‘So we sent residents handwritten ‘letters home’ from servicemen and women who used to live in their streets and homes, supported by local PR and geo-targeted paid social. The goal being to maximise engagement and local relevance nationwide – one street at a time.’

These ‘letters home’ were sent to the occupants of 24 streets across the UK, written by the former occupants who passed away in the war. They were carefully chosen so that local residents could visit their grave locally. Simply and beautifully written, they told the stories of life overseas during the war, encouraging people to learn more about their lives through the work of the CWGC online. The geo-targeted paid social campaign helped drive traffic to the CWGC website, encouraging people to discover ‘who lived on your street’. And during the week itself, people were encouraged to join digital events on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The best print work should always feel like a one-to-one conversation with the reader, says Matt. I hope our audience felt that.
Matt Lee
Executive Creative Director/M&C Saatchi

‘It was a digital campaign primarily, with print as a crucial part of the mix,’ explains Matt. ‘The strength of the print aspect was the humanity on display in the letters. Different stories, experiences, hopes and fears made them incredibly personal. Particularly if they once lived a few doors down, or in your home. The tangible nature of the letters and the emotion that they can bring was crucial to the spirit of the campaign.’

But did the penned word strike a chord with younger audiences? The results speak for themselves. The campaign reached 2.7 million people and led to a 34 per cent increase in website traffic and 139,000 website users – 75 per cent of which were new to the CWGC site. 

It’s testament to print advertising effectiveness that it had its hand in driving new audiences online to learn and commemorate War Graves Week while delving further into a past that now had a modern, relevant connection to them.

‘The best print work should always feel like a one-to-one conversation with the reader,’ says Matt. ‘I hope our audience felt that.’

Audience and awards judges both. Not only did the campaign win Gold in the Best Use of Unaddressed Print category at the DMA Awards, it also won Gold awards in Best UX and silver in Best Data Storytelling categories.


Source: the Data & Marketing Association (