Winning a D&AD Pencil is a badge of honour that will get you in front of clients, attract talent and put your work on the radar of millions of people in the creative industries around the world — but with 9,972 entries last year only 6% of which won a Pencil, the competition is fierce. We caught up with a few Jury Presidents to find out what creative excellence might look like as we head into a third year of the pandemic. Some of them said they’d like to see how creatives have done things differently, coming out of difficult times and looking to a changing future, while others said this year they want to be delighted with things they’ve never seen before.
Here, we summarise the key takeaways.
Judges want to feel something
After two years of global lockdown and pandemic burnout that has left many feeling jaded, the judges want to see work that moves and makes us feel alive. When asked what would catch his attention, Editing Jury President Paul Notice said, “It’ll have to have the evidence of detailed, intentional and meaningful work. I want to feel something at the end of the ad.”
Similarly, Direct Jury President Xolisa Dyeshana says he’s looking forward to seeing work that hits him in the gut, “Work that is so powerful it can’t be ignored.”
Even for a category like Animation, where there’s more scope for fantasy, the judges are looking for work that finds human truths. Animation Jury President Fabiano Broki says, “What can’t be filmed, can be animated, but the challenge is to build a sequence of drawings that makes the human being feel alive.”
They want to see innovative responses to contemporary problems
Life has radically altered over the past few years; work, social, and family life all look very different to what they did pre pandemic for many people the world over. The judges want to see work that responds to how we live now. “Following the incredible difficulties the pandemic has brought us over the past two years, businesses and brands have had to act or die — they have pivoted with such amazing speed and incredible creativity and ingenuity of ideas and it's been magical to witness,” says Julia Leckey, Creative Transformation Jury President.
Leckey anticipates that creatives will innovate at an even faster pace this year, saying, “We are entering an era of great acceleration fuelled by human instinct, creativity and data and this change will flow through the world at a speed not witnessed before.”
Dyeshana too says his category Direct, which focuses on innovative thinking and new ways to speak to customers directly, should produce interesting creative responses, “The world has been presented with extraordinary challenges over the past two years and I’m looking forward to seeing how the global industry used Direct, as a medium, to truly connect brands to consumers.”
Editing Judge Notice meanwhile, wants to see how work has developed from the previous pandemic year, saying, “I think the impact of living through the first quarantine years will still be shining through this season. I’m eager to see how it has evolved since 2020.” And Direction Jury President Bryan Buckley wants work not just to reflect the zeitgeist, but shows a new way of seeing it, work that puts “a spin on things that leaves you in total awe."
Show them something they haven’t seen before
Anticipating that they’ll be going through thousands of entries this year, the judges have all said they want to be surprised with new creative concepts that feel unlike work seen previously. Speaking for his category, Music Videos Jury President Jules de Chataleux mentions he’d rather see work that is unpolished with fresh concepts, than work that is perfectly executed yet copying an idea. de Chataleux says, “I would rather see a cutting-edge concept in its teething stages, than a perfectly executed video fusing together recycled concepts.”
Meanwhile, Visual Effects Jury President Mahmoud Ghali would love to see the use of new technology push the category forward into the unknown. Ghali says, “The craft of visual effects requires a very tight mixture of both art and technology and the latter has always been a limitation. What excites me today is that this is changing; today artists anywhere have access to high-end technology and tools within the reach of their desktops. Award winning niche tools are today available on the cloud for instance, it’s very interesting what can be produced.”
Embed the aesthetic in strategic thinking
The judges don’t just want to see work that looks good, they want to see the reasoning behind an idea. Art Direction Jury President Valerie Madon says, “Great work teases not just the eyes but the heart. We know it when our heart skips a beat. The art direction needs to be intertwined with the idea that fits the brief and the media perfectly.”
Similarly, PR Jury President Valerie Pinto wants to see work that not only grabs attention but holds it. She says, “Creative excellence in PR is the ability to rethink the same story through a creative lens that pulls in the audience and keeps them engaged."
Help new talent to make their name
The judges have all said that they’re looking forward to discovering new talent this award season, and they’re especially excited to see how emerging creatives will interpret their categories in their own way. Typography Jury Presidney Arata Maruyama says, “I’m excited about discovering upcoming new designers and new work which combines typographic design with other disciplines.”
Meanwhile, Sound Design & Use of Music Jury President Abigail Sie also says she’s excited about, “All the fresh new voices in storytelling”. Sie says these are the people, of all levels of experience, who will shake up her category. She anticipates they’ll make use of new mediums and markets and create exciting opportunities for the craft.
D&AD Awards 2022 is now open for entries. Submit your work and be part of more.