Why we've turned D&AD Judging Week into a festival of creativity

D&AD Judging Week began yesterday, taking over the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane.

Tim Lindsay: the chief executive of D&AD
Tim Lindsay: the chief executive of D&AD

Gorgeous though the Great Hall at Olympia was – particularly filled with the very best design and advertising of the year – East London feels a more natural home.

It is stuffed with great studios and agencies, start-ups and incubator spaces, galleries, bars, street art, boutiques, and more or less a coffee shop per person.  

It’s also a great place for our 200 jurors (35 per cent of whom are women this year; not good, but a big improvement) to hang out.

The core activity is of course judging over 20,000 pieces of work in 25 categories, deciding which work is worthy of a Wood, Graphite, Yellow, White or Black Pencil.

In turn we’ll ascertain the most awarded studios, agencies, production companies and clients. In a neat twist this year we’ll announce all of the work that has won a Pencil – but we won’t reveal the level until our ceremony on 21 May.

Additionally, our jurors are going to work even harder as we deploy them to turn Judging Week into a festival of inspiration and enablement. Together we’ll truly celebrate the power of creativity and its outcomes – financial, social, cultural and environmental.  

Driven by a belief that good stuff works better than bad stuff, we’ve put together a series of talks, lectures, seminars, exhibitions and training sessions that are inspirational, accessible and unmissable.

Culminating at the end of each judging day a President’s Lecture will be delivered by, in order, Dougal Wilson, Oliviero Toscani and Neil Harbisson. (See the D&AD website for details).  

But why are we doing this, and what’s the aim?  

The why is simple. D&AD is unique in that it serves both the design and the advertising parts of the community and is focused 100 per cent on creative excellence. I include here inspiring it, celebrating it, and enabling it, to the betterment of the industry as a whole. We all need this.

The aim is also simple – and perhaps not that widely understood.  

Every pound D&AD makes goes back into the industry – to support the New Blood activities here and (increasingly) abroad.

Your entry fees, subscriptions and generous donations are used to identify the most talented, young new practitioners as they emerge. Through the New Blood Awards, Festival and Academy we make sure the talent hits the ground running as they begin their professional careers. 

Increasingly, via pop-up schools, massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other platforms these youngsters are located outside the rather white, rather middle-class places the industry currently trawls for recruits.  

So, this year we’re starting fairly small. Next year, given the right encouragement, we’ll start to build out the fringe events. We think London deserves a festival dedicated to creative excellence and the characters that make it happen (that’s you). 

Those of us who live here sometimes lose sight of the veneration others have for our great city. It’s not just advertising and design of course. Add music, fashion, architecture, art, theatre, film, television, gaming, food and drink and you can see why our lovely overseas judges are happy to give their time and be part of something special in a very special place.

No palm trees admittedly. But perhaps none the worse for that.

Tim Lindsay is the chief executive of D&AD.

Campaign is the media partner of D&AD Judging Week. Full coverage of all that's happening during the judging week will be on Campaign's D&AD Judging Week hub


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