The British Design and Art Direction organisation has transformed
itself into an outfit that leads the way in advertising education and
the promotion of high standards. It is more grown up, professional and
transparent - that is, in all respects other than the suffocating
opaqueness of its judging process.
Last week’s awards ceremony was a qualified success. Olympia proved to
be refreshing; it was a slick show run on an impressive scale. Most of
the silvers were worthy winners. But the lack of advertising golds was
perverse, dispiriting and left a bad taste in the mouth. Many people
present were saddened by how disconnected from reality the awards have
become. If D&AD is all about inspiration, as Frank Lowe and others
insist, then it is negating its reason for existing.
Never mind VW’s ’lamp post’ following Blackcurrant Tango into the ether
as all-time great golds that went unrewarded. What about the finest use
of special effects seen in an ad (Smirnoff ’Smarienberg’) or the
all-time best use of music in an ad (’Perfect Day’)? The feeling was
that D&AD judging is actually all about mean-spiritedness.
It’s a malaise Campaign encounters at our own awards in the jaded,
cynical reaction to the winners. BTVA, Cannes and Campaign have tried
hard to stamp it out in their judging. From the evidence of our own eyes
and feedback from depressed jurors, at D&AD it is still rife.
Bluntly put, to deny messrs Flintham and McLeod a gold because many
jurors haven’t ever won even a silver makes a mockery of so many
’Lamp post’ and Blackcurrant Tango are the ads creatives dream of.
But, let’s be honest. Many dream of doing them for the wrong
It’s about picking up the gold, luv. It is not about shifting the
product, although both these ads demonstrably have. D&AD skews the focus
of the daily job towards the pencil, not the professionally contracted
undertaking between client and agency to shift that product. It matters
because it’s a business where people crave peer-group approbation. Even
grown-up, sensible creatives define their opinion of their own work,
themselves too, by recognition at D&AD. Although it’s difficult to keep
sight of this in the midst of 2,500 creative people at Olympia, this is
not what the advertising business is about.