Opinion: Perspective - Where have all the advertising gold Pencils gone?

I write this 24 hours away from the D&AD Awards at which Honda's "cog" from Wieden & Kennedy UK won a clutch of silvers but failed to get a gold award.

Yet last week it picked up a grand Clio, and it has countless other accolades at other awards shows.

If D&AD awards were within my gift, I would have reserved a gold for "cog" within a second of seeing it for the first time. To produce a car commercial that rocks is an extraordinary achievement. To do so with manifest commercial success (we know that Honda prices and sales went up over the past two years) is on a par with Sir Ranulph Fiennes running seven marathons in a week soon after having a heart attack.

As someone who has spent far too little time at the inaugural D&AD Congress, my view is that this ambitious event, as yet commercially unproven, was worth the effort. The question of which ads were awarded this year, which I pose to the juries rather than the D&AD, is a far more controversial one.

Why no black Pencil for "cog", for example? Here was an ad that engaged people on a rare and special level. It even caused Sky+ junkies, ad avoiders to a man and woman, to pause the fast-forward option. (Or at the very least to opt for the leisurely x6 fast forward - where you can see images - rather than full-on blur x30 speed.)

This year, as has happened regularly before, there were no golds in advertising but two in design. You could argue, like Dick Powell, the president elect of D&AD in this week's Campaign (p24), that the design community is a little too free with its golds.

Perhaps the truth is that design jurors see the bigger picture more than advertising jurors.

They realise that awarding golds is a testament to the business-building value of what they do. In the case of the advertising juries, the golds still seem to be lost somewhere only a proctologist can find them.

Often they are hidden in the land of one midnight showing on a digital channel in order to qualify for entry. Sometimes they are for niche brands with minimal spend and minimal degree of difficulty. It's depressing to see this happen year after year at the D&AD Awards. Perhaps, if there were more clients on the panels, things would be different?

Finally, on a different theme, I would like to recognise a body of ads produced in recent weeks for Campaign by TBWA\London. One gem was the call for entries for the Campaign Direct Awards, an unpromising brief indeed. The ads featured playfully defaced Direct jurors as beautifully crafted stamps. Result? Entries doubled this year on last.

TBWA also cast Nigel Belford and Paul Roberts - aka the famous Campaign Poster Awards doctors of 2002 - on the call for entries for the 2004 awards.

Belford and Roberts, you will recall, are barred from entering Campaign Posters until 2005. Hence the simple shot of them and the line: "Enter this year because next year it gets a lot harder." I know that this one made me laugh and wince when I saw it for the first time. Will Poster entries double? I'll let you know.

My thanks to everyone at TBWA and its group companies who have put up with the usual media owner as client shenanigans. To wit: endless last minute and seemingly capricious changes, committee decisions that take forever to drag out, stampy foots from the editor, ditto from the managing director, budgets set at zero or thereabouts, and so on.


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