MEDIA: BEHIND THE HYPE - D&AD annual adheres to the usual high standards

Dave Waters hates the cover suckers, but says the D&AD annual is as exciting as ever.

Who's stupid idea was it to put all the suckers on this year's D&AD annual? It doesn't look great and it takes up loads of shelf space. And it sticks to your desk, and then the wall and then the side of your bookcase and then the inside of the dustbin. And that's a shame because I quite like the texture of the yellow rubber bit. It also requires packaging the size of two breeze-blocks to send it out. Plus all the extra bits still fall out and hang about the office like innovations catalogues. I'm probably missing something really obvious here but if it's got an idea, I don't get it.

I've got sympathy for the designers mind you, in this case Esterson Lackersteen.

The last thing you'd want is the brief to design the 2003 book. Because 2002 was the best one of the lot, it's gorgeous. I'd buy it as a book even if I didn't work in advertising. It was beautiful, the best bit of art direction in the annual was the book itself. It had an idea and best of all it was funny. Funny all the way through, which was a breath of fresh air seeing as the books had been taking themselves very seriously (except when Gaskin did that lovely, inflatable one that you can't read the type in, and a couple of the older ones that had witty pictures on the covers).

But, you should never judge a book by its cover.

As ever, the content is magnificent. I always forget just how much truly excellent work gets made each year. This is a deceptively fat volume (616 pages) because there are still only a handful of ads in there. What's also included are 37 categories and sections including environmental design and architecture, the student awards and interactive and digital media.

I'm sure it's lovely for the students to have their stuff in here but do we really need it cluttering up the grown-ups' work (stuff that has been through the pain of client-birth)? And, for me, the interactive stuff (brilliant work, looks great on a G4) doesn't look as impressive stuck on a printed page. The books from previous decades are certainly thinner and on the plus side, the ads are presented larger, a lot of gems that really stand the test of time and some dreadful puns.

I spent a fair bit of time learning the pages of the old annuals when I was at art school and I still believe it's great groundwork for aspiring creatives. It's probably that familiarity which makes me think they were better when they were just ads. In fact, the new book is terrific, as stimulating and refreshing as ever. A compendium of everything that's good about the design and advertising business.

I've got a couple of dozen annuals all neatly ranged on a shelf. (Loads of people my age have, we're from the part-work generation.) I've already got space for this lovely new one at the end. I found Mikey, my 14-year-old, going through them a little while back and he reminded me of the thing I hate about D&AD books. "You're not in them much are you, Dad?"

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