Close-Up: These are lean times. But not at D&AD, it seems

Garrick Hamm, the D&AD president, says despite the recession, the quality of this year's award entries still shone through.

So, D&AD judging is over. No tears, no toy-throwing and no walkouts. The spirit was uplifting. The awards team is double-checking all the results as I write, but you should have heard by now that we have more nominations than we've had in years. The big question is: will the generosity in nominations translate into a bumper crop of Pencils? You'll have to come to the ceremony on 11 June at the Roundhouse in Camden, London to find out.

It'll be no surprise to anyone to hear that entries were a bit down this year. The results are showing, though, that this hasn't translated into a dip in the quality of the work. Entrants seemed to have considered more carefully where they entered. The same piece of work wasn't carpet-bombed into ten categories - something the juries will have been very grateful for.

I was anxious the week before judging, wondering if juries might take a dim view of the work in tough economic times, but it was clearly quite the opposite. The week was full of optimism, banter and discussion. Maybe it was the radiant natural light beaming through the great iron arches of Kensington Olympia's Grand Hall or just the fact that the juries entered judging this year in an upbeat manner. Whatever it was, the event ran on rails.

About 270 leading creatives judged more than 20,000 pieces of work last week. An additional 160 turned up to judge student awards, too - the first time both awards have been judged together on this scale. It was easy to get lost between what was the professional and what was student work, which is a worry if you're an "old creative dog" such as myself. The younger generation is closing in fast.

The results so far show that while the economy seems to be worsening on the outside, the creative industry has pulled together and still managed to come up with inspiring work, worthy of a few nominations, and hopefully a Pencil or two. People often talk about good creative work coming out of a tight economy, but one thing's for sure: creativity is a differentiator.

You only have to look at the sale of just a portion of Innocent to Coca-Cola for £30 million to realise that money talks and so does creativity - it was shouting at Olympia last week.

Our industry is a tough one. Coming into the agency every day, trying to reinvent the "creative wheel" is no easy career option. We miss birthdays and school plays, holidays get cancelled and marriages get wrecked in the pursuit of creative excellence. But seeing all the work in such glorious surround-ings made it feel more worthwhile, especially as my youngest daughter's name is Olympia.

- Garrick Hamm is the president of D&AD and the creative partner at Williams Murray Hamm.

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