CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/D&AD AWARDS; What will Fink do to improve the D&AD awards?

Graham Fink has rejigged the whole jury system for 1996. Emma Hall reports

Graham Fink has rejigged the whole jury system for 1996. Emma Hall reports



Question: What do Damien Hirst and Martin Amis have in common with Tim

Delaney and James Lowther? Answer: They are all judges of the 1996 D&AD

Awards. Graham Fink, next year’s D&AD president, has reappraised the

whole jury system - opening up the judging to incorporate a broader

spectrum of viewpoints, splitting the panel into ten specialist juries

and introducing a new award category for art direction.



Fink’s inclusion of influential names from the worlds of art and media

is a controversial move, which opens him up to criticism from all sides.

Along with Hirst and Amis, he has invited the bum-baring artists,

Gilbert and George, and the TV comedians, Bob Mortimer, Mel Smith and

Griff Rhys Jones to be on the judging panel.



In defence of these choices, Fink says: ‘Advertising people get a lot of

their influences from TV, film and books, so it makes sense to have

judges from among these disciplines. It is so important to have the

awards judged properly.’



However, the new names on the jury are still from what could be termed

‘luvvie’ circles. This will only exacerbate critics of the D&AD, who

abhor what they see as its elitism and its deep-rooted establishment

outlook.



As president, Fink is doing what he thinks is right to improve the D&AD

awards. He has also scoured smaller agencies for judges, including Ken

Hoggins from Banks Hoggins O’Shea and Chris Herring from Mustoe Merriman

Herring Levy. In addition, Fink has looked to the US and Australia and

also stresses that a selection of ‘fresh, raw talent’ has been called in

to judge this year, such as Al Young, the art director from Trev and Al,

and Erik Kessels, the GGT art director.



Such appointments may go some way towards appeasing Trevor Beattie, the

creative director of TBWA, who protests: ‘The ‘luvvie’ agencies always

come first. The only reason Peperami did not win in 1994 was that Lintas

is not a trendy agency.’



But there are many who would like to see the judging opened up still

further, to canvass an even greater variety of opinion. Robert Campbell,

a creative partner at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, says: ‘The principle

of outsiders is sound, but I would like to see a broader spectrum of

disciplines represented, including judges from commercial and

technological backgrounds.’



Perhaps the most significant of Fink’s changes is the return to

specialist juries. Last year, 36 judges were divided into groups of 12,

who initially judged one third of the 14,000 entries, and then regrouped

to judge the nominations and awards.



Sounds tedious? According to Fink, the dropout rate among judges was

about 60 per cent, as creative luminaries found that they could not

spare a week of their lives for the judging process.



Trevor Beattie, who was on the panel last year, complains: ‘It was like

doing jury service, and it was less interesting than the O. J. Simpson

trial.’



Fink’s plan is to allow the judges to spend more time seeing and

discussing the work, and to avoid rushed, late-night viewings. He says:

‘Setting up smaller, specialist juries means that the judges are likely

to be more passionate about the work they are judging.’



The categories will be: TV and cinema advertising, TV and cinema crafts,

pop promo videos, radio, copy, press advertising, posters, photography,

illustration, typography and art direction.



Any reduction in the boredom factor for judges is universally welcomed.

Campbell, who has been invited to judge the copy section next year,

observes: ‘The judging is a mammoth task and breaking it up is a good

idea.’



Tim Delaney, the creative director of Leagas Delaney and a former D&AD

president, has some sympathy for the overworked panels, but warns that

by recruiting 125 jurors, as Fink has done, the pool of top-calibre

candidates for the post will soon run out.



Delaney points out that D&AD can only retain its prestige by continuing

to get the best people to judge the work.



But Beattie is an advocate of more radical change. He says: ‘The great

ads scream at you and you should not have to waste time debating

mediocre ones.’



There is also an argument that the judging categories need a complete

structural overhaul, rather than just the introduction of a new money-

spinning category for art direction. People have always complained that

unless their work falls comfortably into one of the designated

categories, it will inevitably go unrewarded.



One source close to the D&AD reveals: ‘The organisation is committee-

driven and has trouble responding to the way the media world is

changing. The current categories were devised in the 70s when there was

only one commercial TV channel and about four magazines.’



And what is Fink going to do to avoid a repeat of last year’s Club 18-30

debacle, when Saatchi and Saatchi’s silver award-winning, but ASA-

banned, campaign was withdrawn at the last minute and the creative team

denied its much sought-after pencil?



As the industry’s most coveted award scheme, D&AD is always going to be

criticised, but nobody would dispute its influence and prestige.

Delaney, who supports the spirit of Fink’s developments, comments:

‘Change is always acceptable. The only crime is to stand still.’



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