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What are D&AD Awards Jury Presidents looking for in 2021?

Jury presidents tell us what creative excellence might look like for work produced during and in response to the most unprecedented of times

As ever, the D&AD Awards will seek to recognise creative excellence, and while this has always been the case, judges expect that this year’s work will represent new definitions of this, having been created in response to and produced within the uniquely challenging context of the past year.

Some judges pointed out the ways in which they expect these changes to reflect specifically in their disciplines, where the pandemic brought about rapid adjustment, practical demands and even growth in 2020. The disaster of the pandemic, the isolation of lockdowns, the seismic cultural movements and the collective power of the Black Lives Matter protests have cultimated to clarify new priorities, where radical new perspectives and urges for shared human needs might come to the fore. 

Likewise, work that elicits joy, connection, and even laughter with a sense of fun and authenticity represents a light in the darkness for many craving some relief. Here, a selection of jury presidents from across disciplines share some of their thoughts and predictions, and we’ll be sharing more across our social media accounts in the run-up to the close of entries.

“I believe more so now than ever, we’re looking for truth within our creative excellence. United in reassessing our ethos of living, we’ve peeled back the layers to the fundamentals of humanity. And what arises from this space is a strong connection with authenticity, which will become the cornerstone of creative forces in 2021.”Allison Brownmoore, Design Director & Co-Founder, Bluespill, Jury President for Visual effects

"The power of creativity is what connects the dots to solve bigger business problems. Our world demands ‘and’, and not ‘or’ – Innovation and optimisation, brand building and business scaling, data-driven and idea-led, content and commerce.”Jean Lin, Global CEO, Creative, Dentsu, Jury President for E-Commerce    

“Creative work that comes from a place of honesty and vulnerability is always better. There has been a tendency in the past to let bells and whistles drown out the idea, maybe even disguise the absence of one. I’m hoping to see a master-slave relationship in the work, where brilliant ideas lead the category and technology serves to amplify these.”Tseliso Rangaka, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Joburg & Hellocomputer, Jury President for Radio & Audio

“We have come through a very hard year where all the usual tools and toys and stories have had to adapt (due to the global pandemic) I’ll be looking for how designers have used these hurdles to their advantage; loudly, subtly but effectively.” Kati Haberstock, Director Of Production & Business Affairs, Mekanism, Jury President for Production Design

“I’m excited to see what integration will look like in 2021. It’s been a crazy year, with consumers’ lives being disrupted like never before and I’m curious to see how brands integrated their efforts in this ‘new normal’.”Pancho Cassis, Partner and Global CCO, David the Agency, Jury President for Integrated

“If there were any doubts left about the necessity of digital transformation to business longevity, the Coronavirus has muted them. The pandemic is a reality check for businesses that have been reluctant to embrace digital transformation and now find themselves dramatically unprepared. The D&AD 2021 digital palmares will celebrate brands and their partners who came prepared when it mattered the most. Ideas, use of technology, meaningful application of data that not only helped weather the storm, but pushed brands to come out the other side stronger than ever.”Fred Levron, Worldwide Creative Partner, FCB Global, Jury President for Digital

“The 2020 events had a huge impact in our field of graphic design, with the majority of our communication being digital. Not only did this affect our way of working but our output too. New technological developments have always been ongoing, but the last year gave an extra push for developments to go even further.”Liza Enebeis, Creative Director, Studio Dumbar, Jury President for Graphic Design

“Unlike graphic or product design, interior design requires the public to experience it in person. Only genuinely inspirational concepts can lure people to leave their house at a time like this.” – Virginia Lung, Owner, One Plus Partnership, Jury President for Spatial Design

“2020 made us realize that our current man-made world is no longer fit for purpose.  In 2021 the Impact Design world will look, smell, move and taste with holistic purpose at its core. Creative excellence will transcend individual petty attributes by questioning redundant values and beliefs. Re-imagining our craft through beauty,  joy and creativity will change the status quo. Honesty with one’s brand mission, internally and externally, will drive brave, bold actions and responsible decisions.”Priya Prakash, Founder and CEO, Design for Social Change, Jury President for Impact

“We’re currently emerging from a state of unprecedented flux. We’ve found our footing and we’re settling into this workflow as our new norm. Within the haze of no personal collaboration and workplace shifts, we’ve had to re-focus our energies and priorities. Our sense of time has shifted in this process, and client deadlines and expectations have shifted alongside this. As a result, we are now experiencing greater humanitarian connections with our clients, which deepens the work and provides space for exciting developments.” Allison Brownmoore, Design Director & Co-Founder, Bluespill, Jury President for Visual effects    

"We’re living in a time of unprecedented change. We’re experiencing tectonic societal shifts amidst a global pandemic, climate change, social injustices, and political upheaval. Such change will give rise to innovation in which products, services, media and technology will reshape mindsets and transform behaviors that impact how we navigate our increasingly interconnected lives. These macro societal changes will inspire creative excellence in the digital sphere that push us to think and participate differently, and ultimately evolve culture. Society is in the act of recreating, and dismantling outdated notions in order to give way to new ideas and experiences that reimagine a better future that is purposeful, inclusive and equitable." Ratna Desai, Director of Product, Netflix, Jury President for Digital Design    

“Like most people in 2020 we had to change the way we work. The casting community was very quick to respond to the new challenges and adapt our working methods so we could continue to provide productions with the best performers for each job. The Casting Directors Association were also able to use the lockdown time to open up a direct dialogue between casting directors, actors, creatives, directors, production teams, ad agencies and unions. We were able to discuss how each of our individual roles feed into the casting process and better understand how the different stages of the process work. By listening to, and learning from, each other we can work together to create the ideal environment and work structure to achieve the best casting possible. We all want the same goal for 2021 -  truly representative, authentic, inclusive and diverse casting which showcases the amazing talent.” Kate Evans, Casting Director, Kate & Lou, Jury President for Casting

“Reviewing work through the lens of recent civil and political upheaval, a global pandemic and lockdowns, I think that creative excellence within the realm of illustration might successfully touch upon that in some way – whether it’s a tacit or overt reference, an aesthetic reprieve, a call to action, but ultimately as a thoughtful visual response on some level.” Kat Irannejad, Co-Founder SNYDER NEW YORK, Illustration

“Coming out of this chaotic year, we all need to satisfy our need for dreams, for some madness, and for things with more meaning. We need a boost of fresh positive energy; communication should be a way to achieve this and Art buying has an important role to play. Nourish creative minds, discover new talent, dare, innovate, help the image find the place it deserves. Keep the passion alive.”Nathalie Maudet, Head of Art, Publicis Conseil, Saatchi & Saatchi, Marcel, Leo Burnett, Publicis Sapient, Jury President for Photography    

“It’ll be hard not to be partial towards ads that ran in 2020 that made you forget about 2020, even if just for a moment.” – Eric Kallman, Erich & Kallman, Jury President for Writing for Advertising

“From a creative point of view, I’d like to see more entertainment and more fun this year. I think we need it. We need to provide an emotional connection, after a year where so many of us felt so disconnected.”Adriana Legay, Editor, Stitch, Jury President for Editing

Get to know this year’s jurors here. And make sure you’re following D&AD on social media as we’ll be sharing more insights into what the Jury Presidents might be looking for in 2021 across Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin

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