D&AD's executive committee was unable to decide which to appoint as its next president, so called a postal ballot of its 2,300 full members, the first time such a system has been used. Bell will succeed Michael Johnson, the designer and current D&AD president, next January.
D&AD hopes to harness Bell's extensive experience in dealing with clients to further develop its commercial links.
"D&AD has in place a flourishing education programme for young talent," Bell said. "I would like to complement this with a D&AD initiative for young clients who, too often, don't even begin to understand how to buy creativity."
Meanwhile, 12 candidates have been shortlisted to succeed David Kester, D&AD's chief executive, when he leaves in March to become the chief executive of the Design Council. The process is being overseen by the chairman of D&AD, Anthony Simonds-Gooding.