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Partnership Case Study: WPP, D&AD New Blood Academy Programme

Creating Pathways to Employment


As the world's largest communications services network employing 190,000 globally, WPP sought to recruit exceptional young talent, align their brand with creative excellence, and build stories within the creative press.

By supporting D&AD’s New Blood Academy, an intensive two-week boot camp that catapults young creatives into industry, WPP gained access to a handpicked selection of the most innovative and tech-savvy young creatives.

On announcing the three-year partnership, John O’Keeffe, WPP’s global Creative Director stated that the “New Blood programme is probably the most sought after student programme there is”.

Partnership Case Study: WPP, D&AD New Blood Academy Programme


Over the past three summers, D&AD developed a progressive learning environment for 50 students within a pop-up location in London’s creative hub of Shoreditch. Each summer, fifteen agencies from the WPP network such as The Partners, Fitch, AKQA and Ogilvy & Mather partnered with the Academy to offer mentoring and support.

The curriculum consisted of themed workshops lead by content creators  and industry heads. Students a were challenged to define their individual values, meditate, master storytelling, collect insights, prototype for site specific interactions and dive into play with Legos in order develop UX&D concepts. Students were also given a slice of agency life as they were invited into agencies to collaborate.

Partnership Case Study: WPP, D&AD New Blood Academy Programme

Nick Turner, ECD at AKQA was one of the mentors: “I had high expectations… this was D&AD, purveyors of only the very best. There couldn’t be any room for any less. Suffice to say, I was amazed by the Academy. It was phenomenal.”

Over three years, WPP challenged students to respond to briefs that world leaders have been trying to crack. They’ve worked with Sarah Brown to improve education for young women; Al Gore to combat climate change; Amnesty International to make injustices a personal issue; TFL to re-think the way we move around London. Students have also responded to live briefs set by brands like Vodofone and Innocent juice drinks. To tackle these briefs, students were placed into teams and given a week to develop a creative solution. By Friday the teams participated in a pitch competition to a live audience, which included senior top-level creative, press, and brand representatives.


Throughout the partnerships with WPP, D&AD’s New Blood Academy has launched 148 careers, placed 104 of it’s students into paid work within the creative industries and fed 38 emerging superstars directly into the WPP network.

Academy activities have been covered in titles such as Campaign, City AM and The Drum. In addition, Creative Review, with a circulation of over 20,000, published a supplement three years in a row focussing entirely on the New Blood Programme. In 2016, the students themselves created thirty pages of content as part of a one-day workshop during the Academy. It showcased not only the incredible creative developed, but highlighted the workshops, brief-ins and other activations made possible by WPP.

This ensured WPP not only gained access to incredible talent, but was publicly seen to support both the creative industry and its next generation.

Partnership Case Study: WPP, D&AD New Blood Academy Programme

Reflecting on the partnership, CEO Sir Martin Sorrell said, “Our industry relies on a constant infusion of creative people – of all disciplines. Without them we simply don’t have a business. D&AD does extremely important work in finding and nurturing that talent, and we’re very pleased to be able to support that”.

WPP’s impact extends far beyond the New Blood Academy. The three-year investment has supported the expansion and pilot of programmes within D&AD’s Educational Foundation. 

As a non-profit organisation, D&AD rely upon effective collaborations with likeminded organisations that further support developing and diversifying talent within our industry. Want to get involved? Contact Partnerships today.

Or see highlights from the 2015 New Blood Academy, watch the film below. 

D&AD New Blood Academy 2015

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