Editorial: D&AD should challenge Cannes but not imitate it

D&AD will be delighted with the way its awards went last Wednesday night. The attendance from overseas agencies was impressive and the appearance of Philippe Stark to pick up the President's Award says great things about the value of a Pencil to the international design community.

Its success will be a big relief to the charity's hard-working organisers.

After all, only two years ago D&AD was on the brink of financial collapse as it battled to meet the costs of its relaunched event at Old Billingsgate Market. Financial woes forced D&AD to act like a commercial organisation

Evident on Wednesday night was the desire to promote design excellence in new markets, something that makes good commercial sense. The two black Pencils went to Leo Burnett Canada's website and to The Guardian's redesign - the online and publishing design communities are not traditionally associated with D&AD. By recognising their excellent work last week, the charity should attract entries from new constituents.

But the greatest new revenue stream will be international entries. This involves taking on the Cannes International Advertising Festival and chasing the international buck - a slick move, because the big networks will use D&AD and its host of craft categories to claw their way up the Gunn Report league tables.

But no programme of modernisation comes without cost. Rebadging the ceremony as The D&AD Global Awards marks a significant change in emphasis. An immeasurable part of what has made the D&AD Awards so desirable has been their Britishness and the eccentricity that goes with that badge. The commercialism that surrounds the Cannes Advertising Festival has always been its weakest point. While taking on Cannes, D&AD must fight very hard to avoid assimilating its less attractive features.

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