CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE; The problem with D&AD is what and who does not win

There wasn’t a duff choice among last night’s D&AD award winners. All were good, some of them, like ‘twister’, were exceptional.

There wasn’t a duff choice among last night’s D&AD award winners. All

were good, some of them, like ‘twister’, were exceptional.

Congratulations to the winners and, yes, the same old names did appear,

but Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Lowe Howard-Spink, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

and Tony Kaye do not create good ads by accident. While we’re on the

subject, Kaye’s achievements really are worth noting (even if it would

have looked better had he not sponsored the category for which he won

gold) and just look at his current crop: Reebok, Volvo, Vauxhall Astra

and Guinness.

The problem with D&AD is who and what does not win. The preciousness of

not awarding silvers for copywriting or photography or single best

poster is astonishing. Please - if the film industry in Cannes can

decide on the year’s winners, then the London advertising community

surely can. And, as for no copy getting in ‘the Book’ - we should be

told. If entrants did not win categories because everyone had their own

favourites, isn’t it the job of the chairman to arbitrate?

It also appears that the judging is becoming hand-tied by the categories

(no room for ‘Miller Time’, for instance) as advertising moves further

away from the traditional pigeon-holes of 30- and 60-second commercials

and the rest. One for the D&AD organisation to consider, perhaps?

But there’s a much more controversial issue that goes right to the heart

of the business. Scour the one gold and 18 silvers and, with the

exception of a lone Golden Wonder silver for direction, you will not

find a winner from the fmcg sector. Neither did the juries deign to give

the unfashionable agencies behind most of these ads a single award. The

D&AD judging appears to be a world away from the frontline of the

advertising industry: Safeway’s ‘Harry’, Walkers’ ‘Salt ‘n’ Lineker’,

the problems of advertising processed meat sticks and the difficulty of

doing a decent bank campaign.

And yet D&AD matters to an enormous degree to nearly all creatives in

nearly all agencies. Rightly or wrongly, the awards set the agenda. Many

alienate clients by talking about winning a Pencil as the aim of what

they do, not selling zillions of packets of crisps or mortgage accounts.

The talent wants to go to an agency which it feels is likely to help it

win the coveted Pencil. This causes two different kinds of pressure.

Firstly, agencies end up trying to force through ideas that are about

that Pencil ahead of the needs of the client and, secondly, agencies

that are very good at doing all the difficult fmcg stuff agonise about

their abilities and tie themselves up in knots trying to be BBH.

Is it good for the industry to be so obsessed with something which

appears so removed from what most of its work is about?


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