Inside Story: Creative risk rewarded

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The finest pieces of creative work from the media were honoured last week at the famous D&AD Awards. Simon Waterfall, D&AD's President, selects his 10 favourites

For 45 years, D&AD has promoted excellence in all areas of design, advertising and communications. It's a difficult thing to define though, "excellence" how would you describe it? My definition of excellence is the pursuit of perfection; it's a journey, not an end point. Kind of like a perfect May Sunday in the East End of London: Columbia flower market to buy a bunch from Carl; the papers, and a slow day under the shade of the trees in London Fields, enjoying the first Pimms of the season and leafing through other people's creative work.

Excellence is difficult to get just right, with so many factors in the outside world trying to knock the perfection out of it. The sun does not always shine out of the client's proverbial but occasionally you may get a client who truly believes and who will take the risk and journey with you. These clients and their brands are the ones we need to celebrate when it all comes together.

So welcome to the problem that we tasked our 304 judges this year. They came from far and wide: advertising geniuses from Tokyo to branding gurus from Sydney, product design icons from Parsons Green in London and brand architects from Berlin. They had a week in which to judge all 25,000 pieces of work entered into the world's hardest creative award D&AD. Here are my top 10 brands from the bunch. These are brands that deserve a massive round of applause they've taken creative risks and as consumers, we've sat up and taken notice. They've all won the little wooden D&AD Yellow Pencil for creative excellence. Just a few have also won the Black Pencil, which goes to work that redefines the boundaries. Some years no blacks are given out this year an historic six of them were awarded. So a black year is a good year.


1 Yellow Pencil and 1 Black Pencil in TV & Cinema Advertising plus 1 Yellow Pencil in TV & Cinema Crafts

Fallon have had a fantastic year. Its a small boutique and won a total of five pencils, including three for Cadbury Gorilla. It also picked up a yellow in the TV & Cinema Graphics category for its Meat idents (see box). Further Yellow Pencils were won in TV & Cinema Crafts for Skodas Cake and Oranges Belonging. Fallon, you made my year and many clients very happy.


1 Yellow Pencil in TV & Cinema Advertising

Skittles advertising must work, since every time I go to the corner shop they have sold out. Skittles have been producing some amazing advertising over the last few years, and this one only builds upon their ownership of the strange and wonderful mind of the creatives. Its beautifully cast and leaves you wanting more. Skittles Touch is a heart-pulling look at a man with a Midas touch in a world full of skittles (send any left-overs to me).


1 Yellow Pencil in Book Design

I love a good book. The book covers for Future Classics are a tonic for the mind. They are also sci-fi, so double points from me. I love it when you see great work from a discipline that everyone thinks might be struggling. Book covers are the new T-shirts, read one of these beauties with pride.


1 Yellow Pencil and 1 Black Pencil in Websites plus 1 Yellow pencil in Gaming

When clients used to ask you to put their shop online what they really meant was put the whole thing online: building, doors, floors, the whole screwy metaphor. It never worked. But then I saw Get The Glass, an online board game to promote drinking milk. It was done so perfectly and comes complete with dice and chance cards. The dynamics and cinematics of how the dice roll work so well. I love it: it won a Yellow Pencil in Online Games and a Black Pencil for Best Animation & Motion Graphic in Websites.Drink, drink, drink.


1 Yellow Pencil and 1 Black Pencil in Poster Advertising

The poster campaign for the National Gallerys Grand Tour won a Black Pencil. The gallery wanted to inspire a modern, indifferent audience to re-engage with their collection. They recreated exact reproductions of old masters in locations around London, but each hung in perfect context with its surroundings. Accessible by phone or podcast, with a great website (by Digit) holding it all together.


1 Yellow Pencil in Writing for Advertising

How do you sit in front of a client and sell this: Right, youre a phone operator and youre going to communicate in an arena where everyone hates you. Youre not wanted and you will ruin everything. Right, we want your brand to be that character.

The Orange cinema adverts are the perfect reminder for everyone to turn off their phone. The hateable Mr Dresden and his faithful Yes-man, Steve, still get more laughs than the film.


1 Yellow Pencil and 1 Black Pencil in Online Advertising plus 1 Yellow Pencil in Websites

Tick-tock, UNIQLOCK from Uniqlo, which won Japans first Black Pencil. If you have been online this year you may have come across this amazing piece of video web work. In a year of greats this stands out head and shoulders (in a Japanese dancing school girl type fashion). Dont look at it here on the page, its not doing it justice, sit down and type


1 Yellow Pencil in TV & Cinema Graphics

A subject close to my heart, or contributing to my heart disease meat. The BBC3 series of graphic TV identities supporting the kill it, cook it, eat it mentality broke many taboos. The audience witnessed the farming, husbandry and slaughter of livestock and the cooking and eating of it. It was hard viewing but the graphics were a knockout. Another great example of the BBCs identity work.


1 Yellow Pencil in Mobile Marketing

In the Mobile Marketing category we have our first winner, two in fact, but its the Lynx Get In There which you have to shout out in a laddish, terrace-type fashion while spraying yourself with musk. This mobile campaign gives digital souvenirs away which you can use on your phone. It reminds me of the back of the number 55 bus, when some sprog gets a new phone and tests every single ring tone. Its addictive and fun for the user I now own a scooter.


1 Yellow and 1 Black Pencil in Product Design

Finally, from the perfect Apple now comes a new attack...on a new adversary. The iPhone has turned the mobile industry on its head. It won not only for revealing the political power a brand can have over the networks and billing structure, but also for complete integration with its iLife. It's hard for anyone who does not own one to truly understand how a simple phone can change the way you communicate, but a tech mate described it as the best piece of technology released...ever!

You can see everything online at, then ogle them in the D&AD Annual, which in itself is a piece of printed art, having been designed by design guru Neville Brody.

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