Why the D&AD Festival matters

Advertising and design festivals are ten a penny, so why does the D&AD Festival matter? Its chief executive, Tim Lindsay, explains.

Tim Lindsay: Why the D&AD Festival matters

There are a lot of advertising and design festivals around these days. Every industry has them and ours is better endowed than most.  Why then has D&AD chosen to launch its own into such a crowded market, at a time when awards shows themselves are, rightly, under some scrutiny from those that enter them?

Well, it won’t surprise you to learn that we think there are a lot of rather good reasons why this festival matters, and why you should come. And here they are.

There are over 20,000 individual executions entered and you can see each and every one, up-close and personally. The very best examples of advertising and design, come to East London to stimulate you, feed your imagination and inspire your own professional efforts to ever greater heights.

There are 250 of the world’s finest creative practitioners sitting in judgment on that work, upholding the D&AD standard – and then telling you what they thought and why in a series of inspiration sessions held throughout the Festival.

There are talks from the brilliant likes of Sir Paul Smith, Sir Martin Sorrell, Ralph Steadman, Annie Atkins, Ashleigh Axios and many more, where you will be able to listen to the wit and wisdom of some of the giants of our business.

There are workshops and parties, tours of local agencies and studios and, if you’re so minded, proper training from proper trainers. There’s also a lot of very brilliant New Blood work on display and examples of precocious young talent in the Next Director and Next Photographer juries and exhibitions.

All of this is happening in the Truman Brewery, in London’s uber-cool East End where art, fashion, film, music, food and technology create a dynamic melting pot of ideas and creativity.  And where there are more food-trucks, coffee shops, beards and tattoos than you would think possible.

And it’s affordable: £185 for a ticket isn’t nothing, admittedly, but it buys you a lot of access to a lot of sessions and work and if you use the app sensibly you’ll be able to turn that outlay into very good value.  Above all else we want it to be accessible. Otherwise the wrong people come and then why bother? Tell your ECD you have to be there. And that she does too.

So it’s going to be fun, informative, stimulating and full of people like you. But is it actually important? Does it actually matter?

Immodestly we think it matters because D&AD matters. Our mission is to stimulate, celebrate and enable creative excellence in advertising and design in the firm belief that the good stuff creates better outcomes than the bad stuff, commercially, socially, culturally, politically, environmentally. And because if something is worth doing at all it’s worth doing well, to the utmost of our ability. As such D&AD sets a global standard for the industry to aspire to and resets that bar every year.

It matters also because D&AD puts every penny it makes in profit back into the industry it serves, running the New Blood program, experimenting with new initiatives and partnerships to encourage diversity in our very white, very middle-class business, campaigning for better gender balance and against exploitative hiring and employment practices, expanding internationally via further partnerships and encouraging and enabling our older, awarded practitioners to pass on their experience to the next generation.

And finally it matters because, although we may not all know it yet, we’re embarked on a journey to help our clients put purpose alongside profit and ‘do well by doing good’ as sustainable growth and ethical business practices increasingly occupy front and centre stage. The D&AD White Pencil was set up with precisely this in mind and has already helped the industry begin the process of developing the thinking, language, tools, processes and metrics to lead the debate. 

D&AD exists for you, for the industry and for the new talent that our future depends on. It feeds the industry a diet of excellence, identifies and nurtures the young talent without which we would be quickly poorer, and enables aspiring practitioners to improve their skills and optimize their talent.

The Festival is a big new part of that – something London needs and deserves; a bold statement in the most vibrant and vital city on the planet about the healthy state of global creativity.