THE CREAM OF D&AD: Gold awards might have eluded ads at D&AD this year, but Tim Mellors thinks there is still much work that is worthy of praise. Here, he picks his highlights
By TIM MELLORS, president of D&AD, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 15 May 1998 12:00AM
I’d like to walk you through a few of the winners in this year’s D&AD awards, so join me, please, on a tour of the glamorous world of advertising, design and music promos, beginning in Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush.
I’d like to walk you through a few of the winners in this year’s
D&AD awards, so join me, please, on a tour of the glamorous world of
advertising, design and music promos, beginning in Goldhawk Road,
Wait, what’s that over there in the middle of the road? That traffic
bollard looks like a silver winner to me. Yes, the one someone’s sprayed
the letters JOE on. I knew it, a silver award for graphic design for
Studio Myerscough and their business card for Joe Kerr.
Turning left into White City, I feel another silver coming on as we
follow an old lady and her dog into the bowels of the White City housing
As the dog pisses on an abandoned telly atop a rather unsavoury pile of
rubbish (nice touch that) the telly sparks to life and a demonic face
begins to chant ’Come to Daddy’, causing the old lady to fall against
the wall with a minor seizure. Steady on, gran, the film’s just
Next comes a mob of schoolgirls daintily decked out in school summer
uniform but all with the same grimacing 40-year-old face. The way
they’re smashing up the estate begins to make a bit of spray painting
look like community service.
When the appropriately named Warp Records commissioned Chris Cunningham
to create this homage to the talents of Aphex Twin, I wonder if they
considered the effects of the emaciated Belsen-like hero/heroine on the
average 12-year-old MTV viewer? The promo is arguably a macabre
masterpiece but ... ah, well, let’s move on.
Here’s a pair of likely lads on the Uxbridge Road, unloading their van -
one sticking up a VW poster, the other padding an adjacent telegraph
pole. To my mind, the best of a silver award-winning VW series, ’lamp
post’ also picked up a silver in its own right. The dialogue, the
setting, the cast and the unfussy editing and direction are
deliberately, like VW’s prices, ’surprisingly ordinary’.
In fact, ’surprisingly ordinary’ could almost be the subtitle for this
year’s show. Placing the unexpected in totally expected settings was a
motif favoured by judges in almost every section.
Heading into another area, let’s pop in and watch a match at Upton Park
and enjoy another silver performance. Getting Coca-Cola to star a rather
ugly blind man in ’the commentary’ instead of the happy clappy brigade
we used to automatically think of says volumes about Wieden & Kennedy’s
powers of persuasion. As a snapshot, it’s also a perfect example of how
this silver, won by the ex-BMP writer, Jon Matthews, is radically
different in style to the mannered comedy pieces for Barclaycard with
which he won a silver six years ago.
W&K has already produced in the South American football team spot what
some believe to be a winner next year for Nike but, this year, the
honours go resoundingly to TBWA Simons Palmer. A short walk up to the
public pitches on Wormwood Scrubs puts us in ’parklife’.
Here, in Jonathan Glazer’s back-to-basics film, Ian Wright is at the
grass roots (or bare soil) of Sunday League rather than the hallowed
turf of Highbury as he was in Tony Kaye’s glamorous silver winner for
Nike in 1994.
Tony Malcolm and Guy Moore deserve their pencils for this one and for
’God moves in mysterious ways’, - created with Amadeo and Mahoney -
which also features Robbie Fowler.
I must have seen ’parklife’ a dozen times but, thanks to the felicitous
choice of music, the delightfully energetic editing of Rick Lawley and
Emily Dennis and the bustling cameos by Eric Cantona and David Seaman,
it delights me still.
The great thing about D&AD, as opposed to other shows, is that in its
eclecticism - packaging to promos, business cards to posters, cinema ads
to window displays, book jackets to radio commercials - it can represent
its time more comprehensively and completely than almost anything I can
People having to sit through an hour’s worth of gong-giving may carp on
the night, unless, of course, they’re receiving one, but the Annual or
CD-Rom is an unparalleled record of trends within communication,
marketing design, music illustration and other factors that weave the
subtle fabric of our daily life.
As I’ve been rather clumsily trying to illustrate, a huge change has
occurred in our business almost without us noticing. It’s only when you
see how much of the work that appeals to the juries is set ’in the
street’ and features ’real people’ that the advertising cliches ’open on
palm-fringed beach’ or ’cut to LA freeway’ begin to seem like
What other car manufacturer but VW would present such an unglamorous
profile to its consumer? Not just the price-based ads with their gentle
and subtle wit but the obsessive designer Passat series, and the
protective Polo ad are all studiously low key. No glamorous
three-quarter beauty shots, no hair-pin bends in the Alps and, instead
of rugged firm-chinned drivers, we’re shown nerdy designers who travel
on buses. Compare the production values of Paul Gay’s Passat commercials
with Tony Kaye’s award-winning ads for Volvo such as ’twister’ or
In press, too, the only really big winner this year - Saatchi &
Saatchi’s nursing campaign - was real with a capital R. Opening the
casebook on life-and-death nursing procedures, John Messum and Colin
Jones’s powerful art direction was brilliantly underpinned by Mike
McKenna’s fine writing, winning him the first copy silver for some
Flintham and McLeod followed up their gold last year by joining Nick
Gill and Euan Patterson on the roster for a silver award-winning London
Transport Poster. This, combined with the success of Volkswagen, begins
to underline a feeling among creatives that Tony Cox has, by clever
hiring and consistent stewardship, created the leading creative agency
of the late 90s. The sober, intelligent, common-room humour that
characterises BMP supersedes the artistic flamboyance and fierce
fashionability of the formerly pre-eminent creative force of Bartle
BBH may not feature in the pencils this year but directors who, to my
mind, it has brought to advertising’s notice, certainly do. I’ve already
mentioned Glazer, but Michel Gondry’s name is also on two pencils. Once
for a charming piece of fantasy called Bachelorette for Bjork. The other
for astounding special effects on Smirnoff’s ’Smarienberg’. In any other
year, I would have expected Derek Apps and Mitch Levy’s refreshing of a
campaign to have picked up more than a craft award but in the new
austerity perhaps it’s a tad too glamorous.
The same is probably true for what some consider the biggest upset of
the night. Unusually popular with the public, Leagas Delaney’s ’Perfect
Day’ was thought by some to be odds-on for a gold. As it turned out, it
was a far from a perfect night for Ian Ducker and Will Farquhar when
their film squeaked only a ’use of music’ silver for Lou Reed.
Perhaps if Lou had been wearing a bloodhound’s head and wandering round
his old stomping grounds on the Lower East Side on crutches he’d have
done the trick. The daft dog certainly did the business for Daft Punk
and their promo director, Spike Jonze.
Mr Jonze collected silver for this and another for a Chemical Brothers
promo which archly uses the music track as background for a small-town
I found the other big US winner - a campaign for hockey on the Fox
Network - much easier to like. A very simple idea, people making violent
ice-hockey tackles on opponents in boring sports like bowling or pool.
But when you get right down to it, I’d have sooner been on the promo
jury. I can, however, reveal that the Fox hockey ads were the nearest to
getting a gold in advertising, they failed by only one vote.
So this year, disappointingly the only golds went to design. Personally,
I didn’t rate the Gattaca titles as highly as the ones for Seven, which
I think were created by the same man. I do, however, wholly endorse the
brave and unique ’autumn intrusion’ at Harvey Nichols. I remember seeing
Thomas Heatherwick’s golden abstract forms weaving in and out of Harvey
Nic’s windows and thinking ’they always do such great windows, they
really deserve to win something.’ Well, now they’ve got it.
Finally, my President’s Award. I worked with David Bailey on the first
Mary Quant campaign when I came to London in the late 60s. Arden and I
worked with him on Alexon at Saatchis in the 80s and here in the 90s I
still see him as the most influential English fashion photographer since
Cecil Beaton. Perhaps a little too ungrungy for the current fad but I
have no doubt his work will be synonymous with fashion in 100 years’
Take part in a discussion on this year’s D&AD Awards at Campaign’s
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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