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The D&AD Awards Judging Process

The D&AD Professional Awards are judged, entered and celebrated by the very best advertising and design creatives around the world. Our 221 judges are passionate, disruptive and critical – they live and breathe creativity. The integrity of the D&AD judging process is legendary, but to help you prepare your entries, we've gone behind the scenes so you can see how your work will be judged.

How Does D&AD Judging Work?

Judging Criteria

For all categories, judges will consider three criteria. In order of importance, the work must be:

  • an original and inspiring idea
  • exceptionally well executed
  • relevant to its context


  • For Media categories, judges will look for media thinking that enhances the brilliance of the creative idea and achieved success.
  • For PR categories, judges will look for PR ideas that are themselves brilliantly creative and achieved success.
  • For Creativity for Good categories, judges will also look for work that demonstrates the power to bring real and positive change to the world through creative thinking.
  • In craft categories, like Editing or Illustration, work is judged first on the strength of the craft, then on how it contributes to the success of the idea.

How is Work Judged?

After a preliminary round of judging online, the juries gather in London over a week for four more judging rounds.

In the first round, Wood Pencils are given to the best pieces of the year in each category. To receive a Wood Pencil, work must get votes from at least 50% of the jury.

In the second round, work that has been awarded a Wood Pencil is looked at again for juries to select Graphite Pencils. Work must receive over 50% of the jury’s votes to be awarded a Graphite Pencil.

In the third round, Yellow Pencils are picked out of the Graphite Pencil winning pieces. Work must receive over 50% of the jury’s votes to be awarded a Yellow Pencil.

In the very last round, juries look at Yellow Pencil winning work to select pieces that will be awarded the iconic Black Pencils. For this all-important round, two new juries are formed; they only include the Foremen from each of the initial 26 juries. The two juries represent advertising and design.

All voting is private, never by a show of hands. After each round, juries discuss the initial results before making a final selection.

A judge abstains from voting if: 

1) they have worked on an entry

2) the entry is from that judge’s agency/studio (not network)

3) the judge has worked for that agency/studio in the past year. In these cases the judge leaves the room to allow full and fair discussion.

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Professional Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.

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