Imagine Bill Clinton asking you to be best man at his wedding. You'd be instantly honoured that one of the world's most dazzling men - and one of its greatest public speakers - had singled you out above all others.
But then the panic would set in. Could you live up to the task? Would the honour be worth all the grief and self-doubt along the way?
This mixture of emotions is not unlike those experienced by an agency when it is asked to create a D&AD 'call for entries' campaign. And for the 2001 awards, it was Circus' turn to take up the challenge.
The resulting 'accepted worldwide' campaign - which uses credit cards embossed with the D&AD Pencil and etched with famous names from the design and advertising industries - is the latest in a mixed series of efforts to capture the D&AD essence.
David Kester, D&AD's chairman, says: 'We've never been turned down by an agency. Initially, they always jump at the chance. But it is a mixed blessing, and a moment later they seem a little bit like a rabbit in headlights. It certainly sets you up for criticism among your peers.'
The D&AD Pencil has become such a powerful icon and symbol of excellence that when all the 'call for entries' ads are seen together, they form a largely coherent campaign. 'I'm thinking of decorating an office with them,' Kester says. 'They are wonderful and amusing and they show the changing faces of D&AD and the industry.'
It's a versatile symbol, the Pencil. It's been stamped on to Viagra pills (makes you more potent, geddit?); morphed into a megaphone (speaks volumes); symbolised a mountain to climb (that idea's been used twice) and formed the 'A' in the 'call for entries' bit.
'It's a great design and communications icon,' Peter Souter, executive creative director of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, says. 'When we (he and his art director, Paul Brazier) were asked to do the 'call for entries' ads in 1995, we'd only recently won a Pencil, and we didn't put them down for a whole year.'
Quentin Newark created the 1997 ad using the Pencil-as-megaphone concept.
He was frustrated that his preferred ideas, which alluded to the Pencil rather than showing it, were turned down by D&AD. 'You have to live with the adoration of the Pencil in order to understand the ads,' Newark says.
'The ads always have a sense of polish - there's never an air of irony or self-doubt.'
Newark has probably forgotten the 1994 ad by Peter Lavery, which showed rows of admen -many with pony-tails or chunky gold jewellery - praying to a solitary D&AD Pencil like Moslems facing Mecca.
Last year's campaign, by Mother, also attempted to have some fun with the Pencils by sticking gonks on the end of them and then creating animated films showing the gonks having sex, eating Budweiser frogs and all manner of mischievous activities.
Mother's Robert Saville says: 'We didn't want to take it too seriously, but I was adamant that we used it. The Pencil is a great icon that is increasingly meaningful to an awful lot of people.'