Close-Up: Live Issue/D&AD’s Manifesto For 2000 - Creativity and the gender gap top D&AD’s agenda/Incoming D&AD president, Larry Barker, on his plans for the top industry forum

Over Christmas there were a lot of ’predictions’ type programmes.

Over Christmas there were a lot of ’predictions’ type


Mainly it was the usual sort of stuff about tinfoil suits and cloning

babies. As a father of twins and a bloke prone to sweating, neither of

these held much promise for me.

One, however, did take my fancy. An eminent futurologist and the pioneer

of ’string theory’ said I wasn’t going to lose my job.

Apart from his string theory, which I presume to be a definitive answer

as to how long a piece actually is, he had some fairly clear views on

the future of computers, robots and synthetic intelligence.

While a computer may be able to fly to Mars, or even take the dog for a

walk, it won’t, according to the string meister, be able to tell a joke,

write an ad or design a chair.

In the 21st century, the most saleable commodity will be creativity.

Bingo! A job for life.

So, D&AD’s role as the leading representative of all that is great about

British advertising and design should, by rights, become even more


But that doesn’t mean we should take our eye off the ball. We have to

keep moving forward. And this year we will be moving forward in the

following areas: training, global reach and influence, writing skills

and women in creativity.

You’ll notice how I haven’t mentioned ’the book’, the heart and soul of

our organisation. That’s because there are too many people who care

about it to ever let it go too far astray.

’The book’ is our Olympic flame and there is an army of people, Swan

Vestas at the ready, should it give even the merest of flickers.

So training. This will feature two separate strands. The first is a

’nuts and bolts’ programme, designed to take the place of the knowledge

formerly gleaned through experience.

These days we don’t have the time. Placements can find themselves

shooting a TV commercial in their second week, which can be pretty

scary. So we must make sure the basic tools are in place.

The second strand is a much more blue sky project, designed to make art

directors and writers fall in love with their craft again.

While the delegation school of advertising has produced some stunning

results, I and others like me believe it’s still about getting your

hands dirty, not just idea generation.

These might take the form of life-drawing classes or inspirational words

from great movie directors. Anything to rekindle the desire to


Internationally, D&AD is already a force to be recognised. We want to

build on this. And to this end we shall be sowing the seeds of an

International Creative Forum, with the awards night at its heart.

We believe that with an awards scheme so universally respected at its

heart, there is no reason why we can’t attract an international audience

to the home of great design and advertising.

I would also like to announce the death of the copywriter and with it

the copy section. This year a new section, advertising writing, will

take its place alongside the already successful Writing for Design


Say copy and you see reams and reams of C4. Say writing and you have one

of the most powerful creative forces of the day. It may only be words

but, as a writer, I believe words have power.

Finally, women. I can’t get enough. No-one can. Walk into a creative

department and you feel like you’ve wandered into a rugby club. Our

industry is impoverished by the lack of female creatives. My belief is

that the recruitment process is to blame.

If it is, and I plan to spend this year finding out, we have to do


There are already rumblings in the press about sexism in ads, the Loaded

mentality, even the suitability of language. Perhaps at the heart of the

problem is a male-dominated creative department. Watch this space.

Obviously, D&AD has to keep abreast of all changes within the


And nothing is changing faster than the world of new media and with it

the whole convergence issue.

As always, honesty is the best policy and I’m afraid we’ve been slow off

the mark on this issue. But this year, we plan to rectify the situation

with the creation of more relevant categories in the digital domain.

We can only get it right if people tell us when we’re getting it wrong,

and that’s where the membership becomes such a valuable tool. So it

won’t surprise you to learn that increasing the membership is also a top

priority. Expect a letter soon if you’re behind on your subs.

And that’s about it.

I fully expect to be dealing with the same old moans and the same


But that’s OK. It’s when people stop talking about you that you want to


D&AD has been at the heart of the advertising business for a long time

now and as long as a Pencil is worth two of anyone else’s awards, so it

will continue.

Wish me luck. I’ll try my best.

Larry Barker is the president of D&AD and creative director of BMP DDB.

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