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Top Creative Directors on How to Win a D&AD Yellow Pencil

The D&AD Yellow Pencil is the ultimate creative accolade. But don't take our word for it. We asked our friends in the creative community to share their advice on what it takes to win a Yellow Pencil.

Here's a selection of what they had to say on how to win a yellow pencil. It's vital advice if you want to push your creative output to the best it can be.

Top Creatives on How To Win A Yellow Pencil | D&Ad
With a Yellow Pencil comes creative glory. And champagne.

Nils Leonard, Executive Creative Director, Grey London

The fastest and more assured path to winning a Yellow Pencil is to do the rarest thing in our industry, create something new.

If any awards organisation interrogates familiarity more thoroughly than D&AD I have yet to judge it. Its why, in a cluttered world, D&AD is still the one worth winning.

But D&AD doesn’t stop there. And this is where it hurts. New is not enough. To pocket the yellow or black lead, you must display the energy it takes to truly craft every part of the idea until it is prized from your hands. 

The entire experience of your idea must be perfect. 

Jonathan Kneebone, Writer & Director, The Glue Society

The work that appears to have been created solely for the intention of winning awards tends to not do very well.

In fact, the work that wins the top awards tend to be the ones for real clients, doing really smart and original things which challenge conventions and open our minds to a new way of thinking.

The things we all look up to are the people and brands who pioneer. And while there are many imitators which follow the trends each year, the very best work always stands out because it manages to feel like it is starting trends that others will subsequently follow.

Think Old Spice or Skittles or Nike or Volvo. 

To win a Pencil you have to move beyond simply spotting a trend and riding that wave, you have to capture something which really moves the world forward. 

The work which has these intentions usually stands out a mile. It isn’t solely trying to win awards. 

But because its ambitions are so bold and brazen, these are the pieces of work which ultimately do win awards.

Graham Fink, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy & Mather China

Top Creatives on How To Win A D&AD Yellow Pencil

A great deal of luck.

And of course an idea that everyone on the jury really wishes they had done.

Tham Khai Meng, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy & Mather

You've got to get off the trodden path and go where it was once marked by the early mapmakers, "Here be dragons." And where there be dragons, there lies the treasure. You've got be prepared to get burned because it takes courage to find the gem. That's what it takes to win a Pencil.

Top Creatives on How To Win A Yellow Pencil | D&Ad
Winning a Yellow Pencil is a good time to pose for bizarre photographs

Mark Tutssel, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett

D&AD “The & Factor”

What does it take to win a Pencil?

It’s not a metallic gold object, it’s a lump of wood, painted yellow. Yet it’s the most precious award in our industry.

And certainly the most difficult to win.

D&AD’s mission is to set creative standards. It celebrates and nurtures outstanding work in design and advertising by awarding the finest every year.

All of the D&AD winning work has a quality that defines a new path in creative thinking.

The work uplifts notions of current style and culture to its most pristine demonstration.

It’s more than “I wish I did that”. The work becomes infectious, and we are never the same. The work changes us. Changes the industry, and changes the world.

To win your work has to be exquisite.

D&AD (Design & Art Direction).

The Design has to be impeccable, the Art Direction world-class, but it also needs the &.  

The “& FACTOR”.

The brilliant idea, PLUS the magic.

It requires that magic, that je ne sais quoi, the brilliance that moves people.

Look back over the years. The game changers all had the "& FACTOR” - Guinness 'Surfer', Honda 'Cog' & 'Grrrr', John West 'Bear', Nike 'Nike +', Old Spice 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like', Metro Trains 'Dumb Ways To Die', Apple 'iPhone', Cadbury’s 'Gorilla', Volvo Trucks 'The Epic Split', Terre des Hommes 'Sweetie', to name but a few.

All of these ideas went the extra mile. They all had the “& Factor”.

A “genius idea, &” wins a D&AD Pencil

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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