D&AD was founded by a group of designers, photographers and admen in 1962, to “stimulate, celebrate and enable creative excellence in advertising and design.” This was in the belief that if you were going to do something you might as well do it as brilliantly as possible. As in all things, the good stuff produces better outcomes than the bad stuff – commercially, culturally, socially, politically and environmentally.
Over the years, awards shows popped up everywhere – too many of them probably. The best shows continued to encourage great work, set the bar high, inspire new generations of creative people, facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience and generally act in the best interests of the industry. They still do for the most part with many, D&AD included, putting their profits back into the industry to identify and nurture young talent.
A funny thing happened, however. Great agencies and studios won their Pencils and Lions for work that the public had seen, bought, used, experienced. But as clients put downward pressure on remuneration, talent ebbed from the business, brands globalized their marketing efforts and lowest-common-denominated their creative output, it became harder and harder to do breakthrough work on big brands.
Agencies are full of smart, inventive people desperate to demonstrate their creative prowess. So, unable to do that so often on their biggest pieces of business, they got “proactively creative” elsewhere. The result is that a lot of awarded work in 2016 will not be for work that has had real impact.
And there’s another factor. In a world where we are using up the Earth’s resources faster than they can be replenished (Earth Overshoot Day is now in mid-August) and where the advertising and design industries are at the very least complicit in encouraging people to buy stuff they don’t need, sustainable growth and ethical marketing practice are issues that are front and centre stage. D&AD’s White Pencil award was set up precisely to encourage companies and agencies to develop the language, thinking, tools, processes and metrics to help clients “do well by doing good.”
So, we want to get back to the stimulation and celebration of real work, to continue the White Pencil mission but on a bigger stage and to an ever-widening community of creative businesses and to move forward to a place where great, transformative, creative ideas that have created great business, cultural, social, political or environmental outcomes get true applause and ever wider recognition. To this end Advertising Week and D&AD are proud to announce D&AD Impact, based on a set of shared beliefs; belief in the need for businesses to have purpose beyond profit; belief in the power of creativity to create change and be a force for good; belief in the crucial role of brands and business in creating a better, fairer more sustainable world.
Impact will shine a light on the power of creativity to positively affect the way the world works – in business, in society, in culture and in the environment. At the heart of the project will sit D&AD’s iconic White Pencil, symbolizing creativity for good and valued by creative practitioners globally.
Join us at Advertising Week New York in September 2016 for what will be the first of many celebrations of truly transformative, wonderfully creative, superlatively brilliant ideas that have made a real difference to people and the planet.