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D&AD Annual 2020

Campaigning Campaigns

Campaigning Campaigns

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A thread running throughout this year’s shortlisted and winning entries is a purpose that goes beyond raising awareness and educating, and addresses real world issues with practical solutions. Terms like greenwashing and pinkwashing have entered consumer parlance, suggesting an astute cynicism to superficial alignments with causes. The divide between platitudes and real action was brought into sharp relief in 2020; the so-called ‘optical allyship’ of brands in response to the Black Lives Matter movement was frequently called out by social media users.

Many winning and shortlisted campaigns created measurable impact and progress. Speaking in an interview for D&AD earlier this year on the judging process, Kin co-founder Kwame Taylor-Hayford said: “There’s an impact around the awareness work generates around a certain issue but then that scale slides and you see that some of the projects led to deliberate behaviour change, some of the projects led to significant economic outcomes and some of the projects led to legislation and changes in how governments operate.”

The appetite for real-word change may also come as a response to what has been dubbed ‘slacktivism’ or ‘armchair activism’, in reference to the ease with which anyone can be seen to support a cause by adopting hashtags, retweeting information and sharing petitions. While there are some benefits, such as highlighting individual perspectives, organising communities and bringing in outsiders to a cause, some critics argue that this kind of behaviour does little more than raising awareness.

DDB Mudra’s Hashtags Don’t Heal campaign sought to address this. It used striking imagery to show that this ‘clicktivism’ is just a sticking plaster over a deep wound, encouraging those who want to support people in Syria to donate in order to make a tangible difference to their plight.

“It draws out the absurdity of the sadly real need for school shooter drills by having a child run adults through the steps to be taken in the event of an active shooter event,” said Jimmy Smith, founder of Amusement Park Entertainment, in an interview for D&AD. Speaking to the New York Times in September 2019, Alex Little, a creative director at McCann who worked on the ad, said: “We’re competing with the news cycle, where there’s a mass shooting every other week. If your message isn’t as impactful, you’re never going to cut through.”

"We believe it’s our responsibility to leverage our social reach to raise awareness about the issues that matter…we need to ensure the support and passion people showed for the Illegal Blood Bank didn’t go to waste and that the government continues to hear us calling for change,” said Nick Hodgkins, Brand Marketing Lead at LadBible Group, in a statement in December 2019.

The Gun Violence History Book, FCB Chicago
The Gun Violence History Book, FCB Chicago

We’ve seen how gun violence continues to plague America and we’ll continue to use the power of creativity for good to help contribute to changing things

Also campaigning against gun violence was The Gun Violence History Book by FCB Chicago, which won the first Black Pencil in book design in 40 years. The book aimed to generate support for the closure of a loophole in gun law that would result in universal background checks. The design of the book itself goes beyond simply being a vehicle for the images and words and lays out, in brutal detail, the history of headline-making gun violence, shot through with a bullet.

On receipt of a D&AD Black Pencil, Dean Paradise, Creative Director FCB Chicago, said: “We’ve seen how gun violence continues to plague America and we’ll continue to use the power of creativity for good to help contribute to changing things and to ensure – like the book teaches us – that history does not repeat itself.”

Beyond politics and into the business world, some projects made inroads into improving established practices by demonstrating a responsible alternative. Multinational food and retail corporation Carrefour teamed up with Marcel/Publicis Conseil to launch its Act for Food campaign – a programme of specific actions for a full-scale food transition by 2022. By restructuring and redirecting its business to be more sustainable, Carrefour was able to effect real change in the ecological and economic ecosystem, to the benefit of both customers and farmers, and also increase profitability.

“You can be a force for good and a force for growth in the world, you don’t need to choose,” said Cat Drew, Chief Design Officer for The Design Council, in an interview with D&AD.

Some of this year's work made interventions in the domestic space to solve health and wellbeing problems. Mr Humfreez by TBWA New Zealand utilised innovative product design to improve child safety. Seeking to address the prevalent issue of damp in homes in New Zealand, the wool and wooden sheep alerts children and parents to dangerous levels of damp and cold that can cause mould.

This work caught the attention of Priya Prakash, founder and CEO of Design for Social Change, for its simple and effective design and message. Speaking on a D&AD panel discussion, she said: “It’s taking unglamorous things and taking this aspect of narrative and storytelling that design tends to do to make this problem really compelling.”

Play, Colenso BBDO
Play, Colenso BBDO

The effect of screen time on the overall wellbeing of the next generation is a growing, international concern. Play by Colenso BBDO for telephone company Spark is a campaign that highlights the issues as well as introducing a potential solution – a rugby ball enabled with technology including machine learning and motion detection to allow children screen time, minute by minute, depending on the amount of time they play with the ball outside. This ‘smart ball’ helped families across New Zealand balance their children’s screen time with outdoor playtime.

Motivating prospective students to “join the fight” for a better future, Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and VMLY&R Melbourne teamed up to create A Future Without Change. The multi-sensory campaign showed students a dystopian future via products that could exist one day, unless significant change is made – for example a museum exhibit of the last living piece of the reef, a fake news channel and Anti-Depress-Os cereal for children. The recruitment campaign encouraged students to choose their higher education based on the university’s future contribution to a better world.

Whether at policy level, in business, the community, within the home, or within the minds of individuals, this work goes beyond simply raising awareness or inspiring, and challenges the status quo by offering practical solutions for improvement.

The methods used have varied, from emotionally and politically charged film content to innovative product design and inventive ways to outmanoeuvre antiquated and discriminative laws. There are few more powerful ways to measure the mark your work has had on the world than through the impact it has on the lives of others.

Theme Report by Neighbourhood, commissioned and edited by D&AD for the 2020 D&AD digital Annual.

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