Close-Up: Live Issue - Is it better to win a Pencil or a Lion?

Now that the D&AD Awards have gone global, are they better than Cannes, Claire Billings asks.

D&AD is going to have to plant a forest to make up for the carbon emissions generated by all the foreigners who travelled to the UK for its awards last week.

The legions of winners from abroad trooping up to the stage at last week's ceremony proved that the event has earned the right to call itself the D&AD Global Awards. Nominees' willingness to travel and spend shows the brand has true international status. And the organisers will be delighted with an increase in the number of entries and the extra revenue this will bring in.

But now that it has become an established global event (35 per cent of this year's jury came from overseas), you can't help but wonder what the impact will be on the currency of global awards. Will D&AD's newfound global status make a Pencil more desirable than a Cannes Lion? Or does Cannes' wider audience make the Lion the greater prize?

Certainly, in the prestige stakes, D&AD wins hands down within the creative community.

Jim Gilchrist, a Campaign Face to Watch this year and a director at Thomas Thomas Films, explains: "Winning a Pencil is like winning an Oscar in the advertising world. The integrity of D&AD - because it doesn't always award Pencils - is amazing. It's accepted as the benchmark. The jury is comprised of people you look up to. It's a very pure thing."

This sentiment is echoed by another Face to Watch, the Saatchi & Saatchi creative Lee Sunter.

"In this country, outside of the awards and the jolly that you go on in Cannes, there's no focus on the awards," he says. "D&AD has its student awards - that could be why people like D&AD more. It's like Transformers - it's part of your childhood."

Clearly, the two ceremonies have quite different attributes. Cannes is still regarded as a more fun, industry-wide event. D&AD, on the other hand, has has always taken itself somewhat seriously. The prestige comes with winning the award and getting in the book.

Juan Cabral, the creative director at Fallon, says: "With Cannes, the experience is more about going to the show itself.

"Coming from Argentina, the D&AD Annual meant a lot to me when I was studying. Ten years ago, when online was in its infancy, the book was the best way to learn crafts, ideas and ways of thinking."

However, Cannes has begun to take on a more serious tone, at the same time as attracting big global networks and their clients.

"The McDonald's and Procter & Gambles of this world attach greater credibility to a Cannes Lion than to a D&AD Pencil. They certainly talk about their desire to win Lions," Jim Thornton, the Leo Burnett executive creative director, says.

Charles Inge, the creative partner at Clemmow Hornby Inge, says: "Cannes has got better over the years. It's more respected now. However global D&AD gets, it doesn't mean as much to clients."

A Cannes Lion is still the greatest global accolade for agencies to collect; it's more widely recognised. But for the creative community, D&AD holds the most sway, and it seems going global has only added to its value.

As Inge concludes: "D&AD has more respect because it's so hard to win. Being global makes it even harder. The quality of the black Pencils is just astonishing."

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CREATIVE DIRECTOR - Jim Thornton, executive creative director, Leo Burnett

"As a copywriter, undoubtedly I would want a D&AD more than a Cannes Lion. It has retained its pure creative credentials over the years. But if you appear in an awards ceremony alongside Steve Jobs, that's one hell of an accolade. It's second to none in terms of the purity of its judging. One sees it as the ultimate recognition from one's most respected peers.

"Speaking as the executive creative director of the London office of a global network, I increasingly think Cannes is more important to the agency. It has just naturally happened that Cannes has become a major currency for major clients and global networks."

DIRECTOR - Danny Kleinman, director, Kleinman Productions

"I think D&AD - because it's my home turf - is the one I treasure the most. I've got seven Pencils, including one last week for Guinness "noitulove".

"My only reservation with D&AD is that, while I can understand that they want to become more global, there are already global awards such as Cannes. My guess is that Cannes is perceived as more important in Europe and in America.

"But it's amazing how D&AD is aggressively trying to capture the global awards awareness. But in Britain, I rate D&AD as the highest, along with the British Television Advertising Awards because it's homegrown and it's been incredibly important."

CREATIVE DIRECTOR - Charles Inge, creative partner, Clemmow Hornby Inge

"In terms of prestige, D&AD is harder to win. The biggest thing is the Annuals. They are the best record that we have of advertising. Creatives try to get hold of every copy - they're like gold dust.

"Although they've done a reel now, Cannes is much more fleeting and there aren't such good records. The two awards are so different - Cannes is more fun and flash. It's about networks and global, whereas D&AD is the best of design and advertising.

"Winning at Cannes is everyone having a good time - it's more fun. If you were a client looking at how your work stacks up creatively globally, then Cannes is best for that. If you win, then you're the best in the world."

YOUNG CREATIVE - Lee Sunter, creative, Saatchi & Saatchi

"It's always been that getting nominated for D&AD is equivalent to winning a Cannes silver or gold because the judging is much harsher. Getting in the book is like winning a Lion.

"D&AD used to be much more UK-centric. The UK has always been at the forefront of advertising creativity. They judge more on the idea, the strategy and the thinking behind it, whereas at Cannes it is more about the execution.

"Whenever you see something do well at D&AD, it seems to do well everywhere else.

"However, other Saatchi & Saatchi offices in the network always talk about Cannes Lions with higher regard."


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