PERSPECTIVE: Creatives prove to be conservative in their D&AD choice

Congratulations to all the 1997 British Design and Art Direction winners. These vastly improved awards matter to creatives to an extraordinary degree, despite years of political voting, dodgy decisions and exhortations to think effectiveness first and silver pencils second.

Congratulations to all the 1997 British Design and Art Direction

winners. These vastly improved awards matter to creatives to an

extraordinary degree, despite years of political voting, dodgy decisions

and exhortations to think effectiveness first and silver pencils

second.



In fact, other than the annual token pencils to overseas agencies,

writing as I am before the melee of the night itself, there appears to

be little that is very controversial. Pencils have gone to a succession

of sweet films and pretty print work containing all manner of neat

visual and verbal puns. Alka Seltzer, Stella Artois and Mercedes

(splendid as they all are) are just the kind of stuff that won in 1977.

Sorry to harp on again, but what an extraordinarily conservative lot

advertising creatives are. Even the superb Blackcurrant Tango film is

the most traditional spot in the Tango series. If only the original

Orange Tango work had garnered the same acclaim.



Of course, TV idents would not have been around 20 years ago and the

Doritos work is a charming collection of visual puns. However, last year

the industry’s great and good, from Frank Lowe downwards, took me to

task for failing to appreciate that D&AD pencils were about inspiring

people to greater heights with truly innovative work. So, is Doritos

really more worthy of a gold than Tango’s iconoclastic ’the Word’ idents

of a few years back? Or how about Whiskas, which would not have existed

in 1977 because agencies would have written off the petfood category?

And where was Walkers? Doesn’t Ingmar Bergmanesque Swedish with

sub-titles and great celebrity performances constitute inspirational and

effective crisps advertising? Compared with this, the Ministry of Sound

is easy. Where’s the client risk?



Off the top of my head, the most original thing I recall from the past

year was the St Luke’s ’colours’ campaign for Boots No 7. A big idea (’I

feel blue today’), but it wasn’t sweet, charming or linear. Then there

was a piece of advertising I would put in my all-time top ten. It’s my

favourite radio ad and is part of the most obviously gold pencil-worthy,

daring, original and, yes, inspirational integrated campaign of recent

years.



I’m talking about Saatchi and Saatchi’s ’anti-tank’ radio spot for the

Army. To paraphrase: ’Listen closely. This is the sound of a friendly

tank: ’ddrrrr’, and this is the sound of an enemy tank: ’ddrrrr’.

Friendly tank: ’ddrrrr’, enemy tank: ’ddrrrr’. You’re in the forest at

night and you hear a tank. You’ve got one second to decide if it’s an

enemy tank or a friendly tank. ’Ddrrrr.’ Time’s up.



Army soldier. Be the best.’



This description does it scant justice. Listen to it. I’m left shouting

out loud every time. A perfect radio ad and fantastically crafted

copy.



So why no radio or copywriting silver? God, I’m becoming curmudgeonly.



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