5 minutes with Jennifer Bailey

By Jennifer Bailey

5 minute Read


  • Interview

Job Title: Creative Director

First job in the industry: I set the classified ads (thousands of them) for the Scottish Farmer Newspaper

Area of expertise: Ideas, art direction and coffee making


What do you love most about print media?

For me it’s the staying power of print. A supermarket magazine kicks about my kitchen for weeks. A quality mini brochure from a home store, or clothing brand tends to make it to my bedside table. It’s a visual stimulus (am a sucker for a gorgeous product shot), a hook to make me want to find out more. The right print marketing for me can start my conversation with a brand.


What inspires you when it comes to direct mail?

The personal connection you can have with a customer. Emails can be checked off and deleted before the subject line is even read, and a mailer can be picked up and chucked in a bin quickly too. But the difference in physically holding the mailer creates an opportunity to make a connection. Almost everyone has at least a quick flick through the pile on the doormat before they decide where to put it.

I am also a big fan of the subscription model and love a lot of the innovations and cross-sells happening there. And I have 2 monthly magazines subscriptions – a gardening mag and Tatler! I genuinely love print, it will always have a place in marketing – we didn’t stop printing books when kindles were invented and I feel the innovations in printing are only on the rise.


What is the best thing about direct mail?

Being in a customers’ home is a privilege. You can excite and delight in a way that feels like you are speaking to them personally. You can be timely and make them feel unique. Or be generous with offers and samples. Or motivational in getting someone to sit up and take notice of a cause and inspire them to act. When this can all happen in the real world over your morning coffee, I think it can be incredibly powerful.


Is there anything about print that you think people would be surprised to know?

That it is more environmentally friendly than you think. Mailers can appear wasteful but with carbon offsetting, advancements in print and innovation. It’s a sustainable and viable way to communicate. And surprisingly loved by a much younger demographic than you’d think.


Favourite ad/marketing campaign?

Ok so this is mad, but I can vividly remember a mailer that came through our door when I was about 10years old. It had an image of a kitchen bin on it, one that was very similar to ours, and the bin was on a sun lounger on an exotic beach. It was a campaign about how ‘bins’ were winning all the holiday prizes in Reader’s Digest mailers because folk put the mailers in the bin. Pretty mad to think how that must have had an impact on me. A bit more recently, I think some of the innovative work for Land Rover is incredible. And the personalised mailers from Waitrose always make me hungry, they are well balanced between food inspiration, offers and interesting copy.


If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

New York City. I have been fortunate to have spent so far 2 full weeks in the city and I’ve still only seen a fraction of it. I love it. And it holds a special memory; I got engaged at night on the Brooklyn Bridge overlooking that incredible skyline.


If you could visit any fictional place, where would you go and why?

The 2015 from Back to the Future 2. Hoover boards and automatic lace-up Nikes. Yes please.


How do you eat Oreos? 

By the packet full. Please don’t put them near me. You’ll not get a look in.


What is your failsafe signature meal to cook if you were hosting a dinner party?

My husband and I are the feeders of our group – we’ve really missed having folk over for food, but it’s given us both the chance to learn and up our skills. Over lockdown we’ve perfected out Ooni pizza skills and cocktails of course.

We’d definitely make a Greek feast though, which funnily enough was this questionnaire’s response too. My friends still talk about the time I magically produced a Greek feast for 5 whilst quite pissed.


What was your alternative career choice (backup plan) before you chose design?

Before I chose design?, to be honest there has never been much else in my head. I loved art and business studies at school, so advertising and design has always felt a natural fit for me. Ask me about the chicken ad I use to love as a kid and you’ll see how far back my love for mad creative goes.
Now in later life, if I could wave a wand and been fully trained, I’d loved to be a landscape gardener. Transforming folks’ gardens into mini paradises.


If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

Definitely invisibility, to be able to hear what a client truly thinks after a pitch would be mind-boggling!


When restaurants / hospitality open up again – what restaurant will be first on your list?

Great question: I’d head straight to the Scran and Scallie for their ham on the bone and cloud eggs, simple but utterly moreish, never had anything else on the menu. The Signet Library for their incredible afternoon tea and impeccable service. Followed by a long drinking session in Teuchters, working through their guest ales and whisky collection.


Who was the last person you sent a letter to (or postcard.. or birthday card.. or Christmas card…) and why?

OMG I am the queen of mailed gifts. I keep a stock-pile of cards ready to be wiped out at a moment’s notice. Who doesn’t love a proper card in the post?, especially if it arrives on-time. I love Touchnote postcards and Thortful as well. I still do hand-written Christmas cards – I send about 100 a year, I need a franking machine!
Over lockdown I’ve sent Brownies (I recommend - gowercottagebrownies.co.uk), Flowers, Chocolates, eye masks, bubble baths, books and of course beers to friends and family.
The last big thing I did was create a bespoke desk calendar for each of my closest friends to brighten up everyone’s WFH desks.

Jennifer Bailey image

About the author

Boasting 15 years of industry experience across design, advertising and art direction, Jen, also has a wealth of hands on direct mail experience from her six years with global direct mail agency RAPP. As the creative lead at Dragonfly you’ll find Jen working across our entire client base. Bringing lively ideas to life alongside the talented team she’s helping to build. Jen’s passion for print and ambitious concepts excite clients and get results and see her drive everyone in the business to truly understand the power of print.

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