Thank God for that! At last we have a chance to celebrate some groundbreaking work - maybe the advertising juries took it on board when I told them they were a tad stingy! In these pages last year, I moaned at the ad community for dismissing the effectiveness of Honda's "cog" and choosing instead to get on a high horse about its originality, thus denying it the gold I thought it deserved. This year, justice was done, as Wieden & Kennedy landed two golds and eight silvers for Honda's "grrr"; and one of those golds was the first ever for Use of Music.
So what is it about "grrr" that has made it so popular with the industry?
Well, for a start, nothing gets the creative adrenaline coursing through the veins more than a real dislike or hatred for the way things are, married to an anarchic confidence that you can do it better. So it was with Kenichi Nagahiro, the design engineer Honda nominated to create a new diesel.
He hated the way they were and vowed to make them better - a theme that W&K pounced on with evident glee, asking the gruff-voiced Garrison Keillor to do the unthinkable and sing, bringing some sunshine into our lives in the process. Melded with some inspired animation, the result leaves us in no doubt that this diesel is indeed a cut above the rest. Brilliant!
That other TV gold went to Channel 4's new idents, which subvert the whole idea of idents, because we just don't realise what they are until, for a fleeting moment, the 4 is assembled before deconstructing again.
It's this languid passing-through of the 4 logo that distinguishes these idents. One can almost hear the marketing executives saying: "Why don't we hold on that for a moment?" They're more like mini-films than idents.
Little essays that eschew bland and glossy corporate special effects in favour of slyly engaging our attention to communicate what Channel 4 stands for.
Of the silvers, no surprises to see the usual suspects pick up the honours, showing once again that it's client/agency relationships that win awards.
For Stella, Lowe London's "pilot" won three silvers and stood out by entertaining us with stunning cinematography. And for Lynx, Bartle Bogle Hegarty has crafted another goodie in "getting dressed", which garnered four silvers.
This hugely engaging story takes us back from the result of the "Lynx effect" (we all wish!) - to the chance encounter in a supermarket. Set to great music, it looks stunning.
The Publicis commercials for Time-Warner TBS's comedy channel really stood out and were much discussed at gold judging.The idea of a call-centre dedicated to humour analysis, where punters call a super-serious operator for permission to laugh, is a twist of Pythonesque proportions.
It was another strong year for non-English language advertising. This reflected the growing international stature of D&AD's Awards, but once again posed the question: why are ads in other languages separated out in this way, rather than squaring up to the English-language entries?
D&AD's reputation stands or falls on its standards, and the not-for-profit-driven probity of its logistics and organisation. The process of marshalling the essential foreign judges, and the vast number of entries, are the main drivers of separation, but ever-improving secure online facilities for judging (courtesy of Beam TV) render amalgamation a distinct possibility for the future. There were three strong silvers in the category, the best of which was "police" by Creative Juice\G1: it's one of those ads that sneak up on you, and only with the delivery of the Yellow Pages message does it become clear ... and make you laugh!
If the D&AD Awards are a barometer of industry trends, then it's appropriate to see silvers in some of the new categories and sub-categories: two in Interactive TV, and one each in Console Games and Viral Advertising. Of these, Nordpol's entry for the Renault Modus cleverly allows switching channels to see the same ad from different perspectives. Personally, however, I can't see what it was supposed to do for Renault, other than make it look clever!
Staying with the Interactive theme, there are welcome silvers on the design side too. Judging Interactive is a nightmare for jurors, because of the sheer number of entries. This is not a category for snap visual judgments, because great work is a delicate balancing act between economical technological delivery, interactive savvy and visual delight - not unlike product design, actually! Check out tokyoplastic's site for sheer craft, and Burger King's "subservient chicken" if you want a laugh! One juror wrote that there seemed to be a lot of chickens about this year. Burger King's "chicken" campaign was also nominated in Viral and in book for Integrated (where I thought it would be a contender): a demonstration that a strong idea consistently spread across a range of media is the strongest trend for the future of advertising.
The Guardian's Viral entry gave non-US citizens the opportunity to engage in the US election by writing to undecided voters in the marginal Clark County. Simultaneously, of course, this would increase awareness of The Guardian around the world ... clever and informative.
Volkswagen is always strong, especially in print. Once again, DDB picked up silvers, this time for "King Kong" in Poster and "crosswords" in Press.
As always, its ideas are subtle enough to make you think before they make you smile. Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy's direct mail insert for the Metropolitan Police was so powerfully delivered that it effectively became a piece of ambient media. To dramatise the dangers of gun crime within the black community, 1,000 magazines with a "bullet hole" right through them were delivered to barbers in the five Operation Trident boroughs in London. Simple and effective!
No question - other than Interactive, the Design side seemed weak this year. There was the usual deserved slew of silvers for Apple, though quite why the jury denied the innovative new iMac G5 in favour of the derivative fourth-generation iPod is a mystery to me. Wonderful, though, to see the Packaging jury kick political correctness firmly into touch by awarding a silver to Dentsu's Hope fag packets.
Despite the overall lacklustre showing, we did have a deserved gold in Environmental Design & Architecture - Foster and Partners' Millau Viaduct, which breathtakingly spans the Tarn Gorge in France's Massif Central.
Just like Apple products, the structure demonstrates once again that synergy between design and engineering, alloyed with a visionary client, is a surefire recipe for excellence.
This year's gold awards, more than ever, demonstrate that really great advertising and design - seminal stuff that not just the industry but also real people sitting on their sofas notice - flows from rock-solid client/agency relationships where there is a commitment to both creativity and the craft of implementation.
Nowhere is this more evident than with this year's President's Award winner, Jonathan Ive. Conspicuously unlike most well-known design divas, he's a modest, self-effacing bloke who is always painstakingly anxious to credit the role of others, from the Apple Design team to the company's design engineers.
Apple's past haul of silvers and golds underpins its contribution to design and its commitment to creative leadership. But what makes this award so welcome is that Ive touches the hearts and minds of creatives around the world, because all of us (in both advertising and design) use his products everyday - who hasn't got one on their desk or in their pocket?