D&AD /50. Celebrating the best of the best of the best. A mere mortal's point of view.
50 years of D&AD. Awards night. A chance to mingle with industry legends. People who’ve inspired you. People who’ve fired you. People you rate. People you hate. Genius. Fools. Intimidating. Humbling. It’s like the last 20 years of Campaign brought to life. Augmented Reality without the app.
It’s nights like these that put things in perspective. Of course it bypasses all the day-to-day struggles that every piece of work endures. But fair play, the people collecting their pencils are only performing the final act of a process that no doubt involved shielding that precious idea from all the slings and arrows of outrageous meddling.
Awarding 50 years of excellence, it’s fascinating to see that stalwarts such as Tony Brignull, Neil Godgrey and Frank Budgen took the top honours but breathing down their necks were relative newcomers/upstarts such as Eric Kallman, the chap behind the recent Old Spice work (he doesn’t look like the third most awarded copywriter in D&AD history, BUT HE IS).
It’s also interesting to see how the icons of the industry have turned out in their post-advertising dotage. We had Alan Parker, Lord Puttnam, Frank Lowe, Tony Brignull and Neil Godfrey all on one stellar table (not ours). Insight: all dressed down (Frank in jeans, for example) and all sporting that specific length of grey facial hair that spells ‘dishevelled / loaded / don’t care / nothing to prove.’
Maybe if we can master that look first, the rest will follow?
A quick word on D&AD itself. We should be immensely proud of it. To borrow from Voltaire, if it didn’t exist we’d have to invent it. We as creatives need a framework, a benchmark a reward beyond the paycheck and successfully getting work out the door. It makes us believe in the greater good, the higher calling, the appreciation and development of craft. It drives us to create work that enriches in a much broader sense than sales.
D&AD, a global beacon of pre-eminence. Envied, emulated, but never bettered – you only have to see the Retweets bouncing around the world this morning to see its place in the global creative community. In this year when British creativity was put in the shop window to astonishing effect (we’re talking ‘Olympics Opening Ceremony’ here) is it a stretch to say that D&AD and its halo effect have played an integral role in creating a culture where this level of creativity can flourish?
If we strip away the awe, the envy and the back-slapping, what can we take from this night?
Well, this was celebrating the best of the best of the best, glorying in the craft, vision and creativity of our industry. No venn diagrams in sight, no briefs bloated with buzzwords and puff. Just the work. The best it can be. Buffed, honed and hard-won. Honouring the ideas that survived intact. And that’s the battle. That Eureka moment is just the B if the bang.
It's a hard slog but if we could somehow bottle this moment of collective excellence or freeze that frisson of inspiration and hold it in our hearts, even in our darkest hour, perhaps we can use its gravity to pull us towards that distant podium.
Happy Birthday, D&AD.
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