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“I’m looking for work that creates talkability, excitement and envy” – Entertainment Jury President Trevor Robinson OBE

The creative mind behind some of the most memorable ads argues for work that he’ll want to play on repeat in his head

Illustration by Lauren Morsley

Quiet Storm founder Trevor Robinson OBE is responsible for some of the most iconic ads in all of advertising, from the multi-award winning ‘You’ve Been Tango-ed’ Orange Slap to the more recent Haribo Kids Voices campaign. It’s no surprise therefore that the 2022 D&AD Awards Jury President for Entertainment has set the bar high. Here, he explains why the category is actually the most important of all judging criteria, and what advertisers might learn from TikTokers. 

Entertainment has got to be the most important criteria of all, whatever category you are judging. Work of all types is only ever going to be truly effective if it stops people in their tracks and captures their imaginations, which is exactly what I’ll be seeking out as president of this year’s Entertainment jury.

 

“I want to watch the entries and think ‘How the f*** did that get on air?!’”

The kind of ads I’m hoping to see are laugh out-loud-ads, as well as those that have me playing them on repeat in my head, long after watching them. I want to watch the entries and think “How the f*** did that get on air?!” And “Who on earth came up with this idea?!” I want to feel envious of their genius.

Risks need to be taken, and while purpose-led ads are important – and have certainly been relevant to the mood of the last couple of years – we don’t want to fall into awarding the worthy at the expense of the broadest possible definitions of entertainment. It’s only when something disrupts my day so that I’m thinking about it over and over again, that for me, it’s going to be a winner. 

When I’ve judged awards in the past, it’s often been possible to pre-empt what everyone is going to vote for because they fit a certain profile, or match the prevailing mood of the times. But this isn’t very exciting, because you end up with great work that’s polished to a T but is fairly predictable.

“The kind of ads I’m hoping to see are laugh out-loud-ads, as well as those that have me playing them on repeat in my head, long after watching them.”

The best work opens your mind to new possibilities. It provides moments of entertainment that surprise you, often when you are least expecting it. Last year I became quite the TikTok fan! The variety of unique, strange, and constantly changing ideas makes the platform so engaging, I can find myself scrolling for hours.

TikTok creators have become an inspiring global community. There’s a freedom in the format that allows for brilliantly pacey, high energy content. You will rarely see anything that has the quality of a big ad, but it so often feels risk-taking and delightfully throw-away because it’s channelled directly from the creator to the audience, and hasn’t had a chance to be diluted or dumbed down. 

More traditional advertising can be brilliant, but it can also be like a Fabergé egg: ostentatious, costly, and failing to connect with real people. Too often we are trying so hard to impress our advertising peers that we lose sight of the whole point – getting people to engage with the message in a way that inspires them to respond to it. 

I appreciate that it often takes a long time to get things past clients, so it’s extra commendable when you do. It’s an ever-growing challenge that all agencies face. But sometimes, when you can see that ideas have been diluted and work feels a bit trite, a private acknowledgement of the effort should be as far as it goes.

“Too often we are trying so hard to impress our advertising peers that we lose sight of the whole point”

Because for the very public forum of D&AD, we only want to award the work that other people wish they had made, not the work they tried to make and failed, however valid their reasoning or frustrations.

There’s a technique to analysing the work and finding the truly winning entries. Look at old copies of the D&AD Annual (or scroll the digital archive) – as well as being a treat, it’s a great lesson in what makes certain work special and memorable. 

Just like that electric feeling of being allowed out after lockdown, the work I’d like to see in 2022 should create talkability, excitement and envy. I’ll be looking for entries that is so surprising you can’t believe it ever got made – but are very glad that it did. 

You should want to wish you’d done the work, wherever in the world it came from, no matter what medium it’s in, whoever’s original mind thought it up, or whichever agency brought it to life.

Jurors and entries need to show courage in 2022, and to remember that, no matter which boxes a piece of work might tick, entertainment trumps them all. The work is only good enough to win at D&AD if people feel compelled to watch it, seek it out and share it. 

D&AD Awards 2022 is now open for entries​. Submit your work and be part of more.

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