Close-Up: Why the D&AD Annual is still able to create a stir in adland

The D&AD Annual remains the best record of the year's work and getting into it is a badge of honour, Russell Ramsey says.

I remember my first Annual. Bought for half price because one of the corners was bashed. Everything in it from the UK and everything in black and white. I pored over it for days, weeks, months. Learning which agencies did which ads, who the stars were, and enjoying the clever, witty, funny ads and design that had made the cut. I strained to read every bit of copy, and there was lots of it that year.

D&AD was dominated by press and TV. Ads were shown as four-frame storyboards with the sound printed next to it. It didn't really bring it to life, but we knew them anyway. British ads for a British audience. Every creative had a copy.

Fast-forward to today. D&AD is global and fully integrated (a gold going to a Canadian website). And not just a book anymore. There's a DVD in the front and a link to the winners online.

Less FA Cup, more Champions League or World Club Championship. Stuff from all over the planet beautifully showcased.

We've known who the winners are for months. Some things don't change - it's always an age after the awards before the book comes out.

But that's the point. The Annual is part two of the treat. Its purpose isn't to announce the winners in a big fanfare - that's happened already. This is about the detail, and a chance to examine all the little gems that didn't quite win.

This year is no exception. Page after page of clever thinking. Memory-stick ads from the Middle East and double-glazing ads from Germany. Even ads for a corner shop in Knightsbridge. The world's clever bastards all trying to win a silver, never mind a gold. Just getting in the book is a badge of honour. You can divide the creatives in London into those who got something in and those who didn't.

Is there still a buzz when the Annual comes out? You bet. Mainly from the teams who are in there wanting to find out if their names have been spelled correctly. But also everyone wanting to see what they are up against. It's still the best record of the year and a reference point to find the people at the top of their game. Directors, photographers, directors of photography and creative teams.

This year, there are more categories than ever before, and I don't just mean new media. I'm all for awarding specialist excellence, but use of music in radio may be going a little too far, in my view. D&AD used to be particularly economical with its awards and one hopes this isn't a cynical ploy to increase revenues. It's also becoming too bloody expensive to enter.

That aside, it's still the bible. I can't imagine how anyone who's interested in the creative industries could ignore it.

- Russell Ramsey is the deputy executive creative director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

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