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Creative excellence trend report

D&AD is all about the pursuit of creative excellence. 

For over 50 years we have been inspiring, enabling and celebrating the best work in design and advertising. And during this time the iconic D&AD Pencil has become an award that represents the pinnacle of creative excellence. 

However, a D&AD Pencil is much more than an award. The work that is entered and the feedback we get from our judges provide a unique perspective of our industry and of creative excellence globally. Through our education and professional development programmes this insight is then transferred to support the next generation of Pencil winners. 

Thanks to our partners BETC and c de c, and with the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, this report provides the opportunity to increase the value that we get from our Awards even further. To take a step back and identify themes in the 25,000 pieces of work entered and consider then within a broader cultural context. It is the perfect example of our organisation’s guiding principle, stimulation not congratulation. 

The report is not about predicting that by 2025 99.9% of jobs will be taken by robots or that the current turbulence being felt in our industry will lead to its destruction. 

Instead it is about identifying macro trends that have influenced creative excellence, the impact these trends are having on our industry and most importantly the potential opportunities that these trends present in the future. 

It is therefore no surprise that the report points to the political, cultural, technological and environmental instability experienced throughout 2017 as a key component affecting the work being made - whether that’s through the exploration of what it means to be human, the sense of societal uncertainty or the changes to information architecture. 

But perhaps most interesting are the questions that these trends pose for creative work in 2018 and beyond. Will our industry be called upon as much to create ways for brands to avoid political opinion, as they are to fill the political void? How can we respond to ensure creativity remains a genuine force for good? Will the response to the prevalence of purpose driven work see a return to humour and more frivolous output? How do we work with and challenge data to ensure creative excellence gives cut-through? And how will agencies and studios grasp the opportunity to move their services/products up the business value chain?

Above all else the report points to a need to address inertia, whether that’s relying on buying attention rather than using entertainment and meaning to gain it; or the assumption that the lack of diversity in our industry’s workforce is somehow not reflected in homogeneous output. 

I hope that you find the work presented inspiring, the gaps in the work delivered in 2017 a space to be filled, and the future opportunities an opening to deliver innovative, relevant and creatively excellent work. 
Paul Drake - Director D&AD

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