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