Adland can't afford to lose sight of D&AD's vital role
A view from Claire Beale

Adland can't afford to lose sight of D&AD's vital role

Awards season is now well under way and next week more than 200 of the world’s finest creatives will gather in London to judge the 2015 D&AD Awards.

Judging week is a bigger deal this year because D&AD is aiming to make it a real industry event. So as well as all the usual poring over creative treatments, there will be a series of lectures, including talks by the photographer Oliviero Toscani and the director Dougal Wilson, on-stage debriefs of the judging process by key jury members and an exhibition of all the winning work. It’s all going on down at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, and Campaign has signed up as the media partner.

But do you care? Enough?

Sure, if you’re a senior creative in a mainstream agency, you’re quite possibly KPI’d on the amount of metal on your shelf by the end of the year. And if you win nada (again), you might not be here to care this time next year. And if you’re a junior creative, winning awards means pay rises, job offers, fame and friends.

D&AD's mission to support creativity around the world is a tremendously good thing if it raises creative standards

But when you’ve no chance of landing a yellow Pencil, do you care enough to get your arse down to Shoreditch, wallow in the best from the rest, book a table for the ceremony in May and give D&AD your support?

There’s no doubt that D&AD has been through a tough transition as it deals with the increasing complexity of our industry and the financial challenges that have curbed sponsorship and agency budgets. And I miss the days when D&AD really was the cream of British advertising and design creativity, and the awards night was jam-packed with home-grown creative icons.

But creativity is now a global game and the competitive set is no longer just the agency down the road – it’s the agency across the sea as well. So the internationalisation of D&AD has been an economic necessity, yes, but a reality check too. And its mission to support creativity globally is a tremendously good thing if it raises creative standards, ensures a bigger international talent pool and helps clients understand how to really value creativity.

Yet, in taking a global view, D&AD appears to have lost some of the passionate commitment it used to enjoy from UK agencies. That seems pretty risky to me. If we don’t support organisations like D&AD that invest in nurturing, inspiring and celebrating creative talent, we’re less likely to be able to deliver the creative magic that differentiates the advertising industry from the growing army of consultants and advisors sniffing round marketing budgets. D&AD isn’t perfect, but it’s still desperately important. See you in Shoreditch.