Prophesies and solutions abound at this year’s D&AD Festival, reports Beren Neale
Beren Neale on the prophesies and solutions that came out of this year’s D&AD Festival
No two visitor’s experience could have been the same for this year’s bigger and busier than ever D&AD Festival, such was its scope and expertly curated schedule.
Each day brought anxious decisions for visitors, as talks and practical workshops teaming with insight, character and inspiration often ran over or parallel to each other. Then there were the great distractions from the main events – portfolio reviews, impromptu corridor chats with speakers, and even the chance to beat up Anthony Joshua in VR!
In its third year, and based in Shoreditch’s The Old Truman Brewery, the three days were broken down into three themes influencing the world of design and advertising today: Human Voices, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Owning the Future. The panel discussion between Google’s Tea Uglow, Mercedes Benson, Roshni Goyate and Sereena Abbassi on diversity – or lack thereof – in the creative industries was a noteworthy example of the first, and was crammed with ideas and debate that dared listeners to engage with and take on.
The festival seemed fully geared to take an unflinching view of the at-times uncomfortable truths these debates unearthed. “It’s always been the right time to give airtime to the voices of minorities in our business,” says D&AD CEO Tim Lindsay, “the difference is that now people are listening and – praise be – doing something about it.” That’s certainly backed up by D&AD’s New Blood Shift – an initiative to tap talent from areas and demographics other than traditionally educated and advantaged backgrounds. A move that combines altruism with good business sense. “If the social justice arguments don’t convince you,” Lindsay adds, “join in for the sake of a more effective industry. The proof that more diverse, better genderbalanced companies out-perform their competitors is overwhelming.”
Elsewhere, Caroline Pay’s Do Not Watch This Talk! celebrated the rebel attitude of calling
bullshit on redundant regulations and presumed power – neatly embodied by all attendees of the talk. Pay’s hard, honest personality charged the room as she revealed the dedication, innovation, collaboration and love of dismissing stupid rules, which lies behind her, and many of her esteemed colleges’ work, at her previous and current companies Mother and Grey.
In Chris Moody’s Evolution of Brand Identity talk, the Wolff Olins man painted a future closing in where old notions of brand identity have become useless; where big brands, already embedded in our lives, must transform themselves to bring messages with meaning, by using the full gamut of tools and techniques available – physical, digital, visual and verbal – or be met by the suspicion and contempt of an increasingly wary public. A stroll around the shortlisted entrants in the higher levels of festival echoed his prophesy, including We Are Unlimited’s flip of McDonald’s iconic golden arches and branding at 100 female-owned franchises in the US, in celebration of International Women’s day.
And the push for design that matters threaded through so much of the D&AD award winners, announced in the closing ceremony on the last day. A case in point was the only branding entry to receive a Black Pencil – the Palau Pledge campaign from Host/Havas, an immigration policy that combated the destructive behaviour of tourists by inserting a pledge to preserve and protect the island in their passports on arrival.
At odds with common sense, but in line with its goals, D&AD intensifies its focus as it expands, so it was exciting to hear Thursday’s announcement of a new partnership with the Guardian Media Group to establish a massive festival celebrating the power of creativity in 2019. Director of the accompanying “propaganda” film, Liam Fay-Fright, revealed more: “Building on the successful D&AD Festival, the new event will celebrate London and the UK as a global centre for creative excellence. The festival will be for all the creative industries and in particular will shine a light on the intersection between creativity and business success by focussing on the value creativity, innovation and technology bring.”
Themes to industry festivals often appear a bit lofty, but with the addition of D&AD Impact awards (entries close 18 July) rewarding campaigns that provide real life solutions, measurably making positive change, D&AD continues to invest in a future of excellent, meaningful design.
KEY INFO: Location Old Truman Brewery, Shoreditch, London www.dandad.org/festival When 24-26 April 2018 Key speakers Sasha Markova, Debbie Millman, Nick Eagleton, Bruno Maag, Caroline Pay, Tea Uglow, Chris Moody, Ben Priest, Dave Trott, Arif Haq and Craig Oldham
from left: The festival returned to the Old Truman Brewery; Common Industry’s film that accompanied the big announcement; Host/Havas picked up a Black Pencil for its Palau Pledge; 487 wood pencils were awarded; the judging got underway days before the event started.