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D&AD Annual 2020

D&AD in 2020
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D&AD in 2020

Recapping an unprecedented year

Between the call for D&AD Awards entries and the judging, the world changed immeasurably. 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year, especially for the creative sector, which has experienced significant loss of business and opportunities for young and emerging creatives in particular. But it has also been a time for reflection, encouraging us to adapt and innovate to find new ways to analyse, appreciate and elevate the creative work in this year’s awards. As the awards judging, ceremony and now the Annual go digital, D&AD is bringing creative excellence to a broader and more global audience than previously possible.

D&AD in 2020

The Digital Annual

Designed by President Kate Stanners’ choice Studio Dumbar, the inaugural D&AD digital Annual showcases the best of creativity, presented for deep diving. To unpack insights, we produced a series of videos with support from Adobe, featuring judges, winners and festival speakers, who explore learnings from the 2020 Awards. In addition, an extensive report commissioned by D&AD, and created in collaboration with insight company Neighbourhood, explores themes within the winning and shortlisted work.

You can also check out talent from the next generation as we present work from the New Blood Awards right here in the digital Annual too.

The 2020 Awards in Numbers

There were 36 Categories, plus special awards for Client Collaborations and the President’s Award. There were 8,656 entries, comprising 21,640 pieces of work, from 76 countries.

There were 1,019 shortlisted (11.8% of entries) and 630 pencil winners (7.3%).

389 were shortlisted, 2 Side Hustle Pencils were awarded, 5 Next Pencils, 384 Wood Pencils, 150 Graphite Pencils, 68 Yellow Pencils, 3 White Pencils, and 4 coveted Black Pencils. 14 Future Impact Pencils were also awarded.

The Judges

This year’s D&AD Awards were analysed by 260 judges from 40 countries. Judging panels comprised leaders and practitioners across disciplines, and were drawn from design and advertising agencies, brand in-house teams, the freelance community and the production world, in order to create a global cross section of peers who represent and recognise creative excellence.

With the exception of several key design categories, judging took place in over 90 virtual sessions, spanning four hours each, producing over 320 hours of global virtual discussion and debate. Judges adapted and dedicated the same attention and rigour in order to maintain the integrity of the process amidst the pandemic.

The Awards Ceremony

In going totally online, our digital awards ceremony increased viewership by tenfold on the previous year. The ceremony, hosted by 2020 President Kate Stanners, was designed by Rotterdam’s Studio Dumbar.

Kate Stanners


This year, we launched the Design Transformation category, which produced 10 Pencil-winners. The D&AD Impact Award was incorporated into the awards, replacing the Creativity For Good category. As the theme report unpacks, this year’s cohort of winners represents original and transformative design and campaigns that demonstrate direct and tangible positive change.

We proudly awarded more Yellow Pencils for writing this year, although after assessing the changes and consulting with the industry we have decided to bring back Writing for Advertising and Writing for Design juries in 2021. This year also saw a significant increase in other areas such as e-Commerce and Gaming, which may now become categories in their own right.


In the past year, prior to the launch of the digital Annual, 1.3m people visited the D&AD website, with over 5,681,500 unique page views, and on socials we interacted with more than 750,000 followers. Before the digital Annual launched, D&AD had already shared over 800 pieces of inspiring and educational content, and added over 1000 new pieces of work to explore through the online archive.

Sustainable Working

The pandemic forced all of us into new ways of working, and for D&AD that had the effect of reducing some of our most carbon-heavy activities, such as the flights, transportation, office and hosting costs for judging, as well as international travel, materials and transport associated with the printed Annual. Although these adjustments were forced upon us as a result of Covid-19, they provided new opportunities to explore some of our sustainability goals.

In 2019, D&AD took part in the climate strike, and our Chief Operating Officer Dara Lynch embarked on a six-month programme for leaders in positions such as hers to work through innovative ways to tackle the climate crisis. We also joined Purpose Disruptors – a network of advertising insiders working to reshape the industry in order to tackle climate change – for their initiative The Great Reset, which aims to challenge our creative community to respond to a brief about the climate emergency. The climate emergency will particularly affect younger generations, so we invited 60 young creatives from the New Blood Academy 2020 to judge that work. We’ve welcomed the challenge to explore new ways of working that may become a bigger part of a more sustainable future.

D&AD Foundation

D&AD Foundation

At its heart D&AD is an educational charity and exists to support creatives at all stages, from encouraging developing minds in schools through to assisting leaders to start and grow creative businesses and deliver creative excellence. This work is primarily delivered through two programmes: Masterclasses, which are designed to help businesses and individuals to harness the power of creativity to grow and reach their potential, and New Blood which champions creative excellence in and for the next generation. It provides learning experiences that have tangible results and bridge the gap between education and the creative industries.

Now in its 40th year, New Blood has never been needed more and in the wake of the pandemic and the fears of a lost generation, D&AD is committed to doing more to support young people to transition into work: there has already been the digital festival, digital Academy, a blended Shift programme and this will be supplemented by ongoing support. There are also imminent plans to deliver more D&AD learning through accessible and democratic digital formats.


D&AD Masterclasses draw upon brilliant creatives and D&AD Award winners, with a mighty 358 Pencils between them, to share their skills, knowledge and insight through interactive workshops. Covering creative skills, the mindset needed to achieve creative excellence, and leadership expertise, D&AD Masterclasses power up careers and future-proof businesses by focusing on the creative skills of tomorrow, taught by the stars of today.

D&AD’s learning programmes have so far supported 150 businesses and trained over 4,000 individuals

Reflecting D&AD’s global audience, our Masterclasses are available in a variety of formats to suit individuals and teams – from self-directed digital courses hosted on D&AD’s digital Campus to learning with peers both in-person and online. D&AD’s learning programmes have so far supported 150 businesses and trained over 4,000 individuals.

New Blood Awards

This year, the New Blood Awards celebrated 40 years of kickstarting the careers of emerging creatives around the globe. 19 big name brands set briefs spanning disciplines and were designed to push the next generation of creative talent. We received 3,000 entries from over 5,800 emerging creatives in 60 countries, which were judged by 194 leading industry figures, all on the hunt for top-notch ideas and execution.

In total 213 entries from 25 countries made the cut, overcoming the additional challenges of 2020’s circumstances in the process. The outstanding work is here for you to explore in the digital Annual, and we warn professionals to watch out – the winners are nipping at your heels.

New Blood Festival

In place of our annual physical event, this year we introduced the New Blood Digital Festival, providing five days of inspiration and learning, adapted for the times we find ourselves living and working in. We hosted a series of live webinars and workshops, partnered with The Dots on an exhibition of students' work from 54 courses from across the UK, held our annual ‘Ones to Watch’ competition and partnered with YCC for job opportunities and placements. Involved universities had access to 1:1 industry portfolio reviews for their students, as well as access to our network of industry professionals.

Live webinars reached over 1000 students and recent graduates from 62 countries

Live webinars reached over 1000 students and recent graduates from 62 countries; over 500 new creatives received portfolio reviews from 125 industry mentors; and the online showcase of graduates’ work hosted by The Dots received a total of 28,598 views across a month. And all learning content, talks, and resources are available across all of our digital channels.

New Blood Academy

The D&AD New Blood Academy with WPP has been redesigned to become a unique digital bootcamp that puts the most creative emerging talent from around the world in front of the most creative industry professionals – the ultimate prize for our New Blood Award Pencil-winners. By taking the Academy online and by activating WPP’s global network of creative employees the Academy of 2020 was able to respond to the economic climate and change its focus from immediate employment to ongoing support and personal development, and the digital format meant the experience was available to a much wider group of award-winning emerging creatives.

200 Pencil-winning attendees tuned in to 32 online industry talks and workshops, totalling 40 hours of learning content

200 Pencil-winning attendees tuned in to 32 online industry talks and workshops, totalling 40 hours of learning content. 40 of the young creatives pitched to a live audience of industry professionals, providing access to and facetime with key contacts.

New Blood Shift

New Blood Shift is a free industry-led night school programme for outstanding but undiscovered creatives, currently running in London and New York, online for the time being. It is for 18+ creatives who don’t hold a degree-level qualification but are actively creating and wanting to make a career from it. Through four months of free training and mentoring, Shifters will leave with all the skills they need to secure paid placements, a portfolio, an understanding of where their skills fit within the creative industry, and a strong professional and personal support network.

Since launching in 2016, Shift has trained 105 creatives

Since launching in 2016, Shift has trained 105 creatives. Approximately 65% of Shifters in London have secured paid employment within three months of completing the course, 50% in New York. This compares to 41% of design graduates and 24% of media graduates employed in their sectors after 6 months of graduating, according to a Telegraph report. Shift is a programme that we are incredibly proud of and one that we hope to scale in 2021.

Looking Forward

Many of the quick pivots and digital workarounds we’ve come up with to deal with the unprecedented events of 2020 will lead to lasting change, most notably making access to D&AD experts and industry figures, insights and learning opportunities more widely and globally accessible, while changes in operating have contributed to a more sustainable way of working.