Proph­e­sies and solutions abound at this year’s D&AD Fes­ti­val, re­ports Beren Neale

Computer Arts - - Contents -

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.dan­­ti­val 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.

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