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
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?
This article was first published on Campaign