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Why play and wit are the not-so-secret ingredients to brilliant writing

Judges discuss why excellent copywriting is critical to Pencil-worthy creative work

D&AD Chairman Tim Lindsay led this writing for advertising insights session with panellists from the Writing for Advertising and Design Jury. He was joined by FCB Canada CCO Nancy Crimi-LamannaMarcel CCO Gaetan du Peloux; Superunion Design Director Miho Aishima; and Trustly Senior Creative Keenon Daniels.

They delved into some of their favourite winners from this year, discussing the joy of radio, the power of radically simple work, and the need for the ad and design industry to continue to embrace play. 

Make ‘em laugh

FCB Canada CCO Nancy Crimi-Lamanna chose Oatly’s The New Norm&Al Show — a piece of branded content starring a pair of milk carton puppets — as a standout winner, praising the way it conveyed a positive message about plant-based eating.

“It could have been a very dry message — that a plant-based diet is normal,” she said. “But the writing was incredibly humorous. It talked about the benefits of a plant-based diet in a way you barely noticed, because it was part of the entertainment itself.”

“Every moment was perfectly written and summarised and took you to the next moment, and even the pauses in the beats were perfect in their awkwardness to build that humour. Writing isn’t just about the words you put on the page, especially when it comes to comedy.”

Radio remains a brilliant canvas for language

For Marcel CCO Gaetan du Peloux, radio ads are an example of “pure copywriting”. He chose DAVID Madrid’s Even More Confusing Times campaign for Burger King’s plant-based nuggets as a personal favourite, and not just because it’s a reminder of how effective radio advertising is.

Du Peloux described the ad as one of he most insightful campaigns he’s heard for a long time, strong from a conceptual point of view, as well as in terms of copywriting.

“It’s writing-led and there’s lots of generosity, lots of amazing punchlines, catchphrases.” he said. “They could have done just three or four but no, they gave us plenty, and I really like it … it reminds me of [historic] campaigns that were really really well written with lots of ideas, lots of richness, and of course the connection with the product.”

 

Compelling writing can be radically simple

Du Peloux also chose +KNAUSS’s Gender Gaps campaign for Frauen aufs Podium, which emphasises the disparity in pay and opportunities with a two-voice radio ad. He said the campaign was so simple that, at first, he assumed someone else must have already done something similar. On finding that wasn’t the case, du Peloux commended the ad for expressing a complex issue in such radically straightforward terms.

“I love the simplicity of this idea,” he said. “I think the hardest part of our job is to do simple things very strong. Someone that doesn’t read or doesn’t even understand English gets the idea by listening to this radio ad. I think it’s smart, powerful, and I would love for young creatives to listen to it and say, wow, this is great advertising.”

Superunion Design Director Miho Aishima also emphasised the simplicity of Grey London’s Incomplete Without the T campaign for Amplifund, which removed the letter T from posters, social media and press ads to combat transphobia. “There is that exact link in language, and it was so simply and nicely done,” she said.

Storytelling is the hero

Behind great writing lies a great story, as evidenced by Howatson+Company’s Rejected Ales campaign for Matilda Bay. Trustly Senior Creative Keenon Daniels highlighted the work as an example of how Pencil-worthy work threads a compelling narrative through the writing. He emphasised how challenging this is for alcohol brands in particular, and praised Matilda Bay as a client for being prepared to embrace the idea of failure.

“This story was so charming and created such a smile in my mind,” he said. “You felt like you were in the brewery with them.”

Watch more D&AD 2022 jurors unpack the work that captured, provoked and entertained them, and debate what creative excellence looks like.

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