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How to win a D&AD New Blood Pencil

D&AD New Blood Pencil

The New Blood Awards are judged by a stellar line-up of industry heavyweights, expert in their field. They debate all entries to sift out those with D&AD Pencil potential. But do we let them just go home once those D&AD Pencils are awarded? No siree. We drill them on what they thought of your work and get the inside track on what it really takes to win. We've put together a power trio of things that came up time and time again, along with some of the Judges' favourite D&AD Pencil-winners. Take note, we're dropping some pretty heavy hints. 

Idea is king

"Bake the idea before you ice the cake." – Cheyney Robinson

This might sound obvious, but don't underestimate how important having a great creative idea really is. Judges can see through a shiny case study video, they'll know if it's all polish with no strong concept. Over to Craig Oldham (Office of Craig Oldham) and Sue Daun (Interbrand) to share their thoughts:

Let's Be Frank

Award: Graphite Pencil / New Blood Awards / 2016
Credits: Thais Jacoponi de Moura / Miami Ad School Madrid

This was one of the Graphite D&AD Pencil-winning entries from 2016. So why did the Judges love it? It had an undeniably powerful idea at its core – that we should celebrate, not conceal, our irregularities. Proving that all great work really needs is a single strong idea, this translated into a striking product range, a set of clever interchangeable packaging, and a series of eye-catching illustrations. 

Treat tech with caution

"Don't try and use a piece of technology for the sake of it." – Kirstie Johnstone

OK. Back up, back up. We're not saying don't use tech. Digital is an undeniable element of what we all do in this industry, you just need to use it for the right reasons. An app might well be the solution to the problem you're working on, but have you considered the bigger picture? Every year the Judges see a lot of solutions using tech for tech sake. Dan Germain (innocent) and Rob Newlan (Instagram) give their feedback:

WWF Dream Donation

Award: Graphite Pencil / New Blood Awards / 2016
Credits: Petr Farbei, Igor Popov, Stanislav Tretyakov, Dmitry Slavolyubov / Communication Academy Wordshop

Of course, some briefs are all about creating a digital solution. But if you're going to use digital, use it wisely. This is an example of a winning entry that turned tech to its advantage with a simple yet successful app.

Tell a story

"Poor storytelling was a common theme in unsuccessful work. Even if it's a great idea, if you can't communicate it, how are we meant to understand it?" – Adam Morris

This final winning tip is a biggie. Storytelling might seem like a general term, but get to know it now. You can look at this hint in two ways. First is how you can use narrative within your actual solution, to communicate and connect with an audience. Second is how you explain your actual idea. Here's Judge, Liz Sivell's advice on using story to convey your ideas:

Bottles of Squash

Award: Black Pencil / New Blood Awards / 2016
Credits: James Wuds

This Black D&AD Pencil-winner stunned the Judges with its use of simple yet compelling storytelling. It's a lesson in not being afraid to let your narrative speak for itself. 

Here's a bonus round. When you've locked down an idea, always ask yourself: "Can I explain this in a sentence?" 

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