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,

Shepherds Bush.



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

estate.



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

begun.



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

think of.



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

history.



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

Dunlop.



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

years.



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

Bogle Hegarty.



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

gymnastics competition.



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’

time.



Take part in a discussion on this year’s D&AD Awards at Campaign’s

Website: www:campaignlive.com.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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