What a week of voting it has been. The Scomophobic amongst us got the shock of their lives. Voting created havoc in the United Kingdom and Europe. And that was just Eurovision, where the UK entry came in last and even then had their score reduced because of an accounting error. And in London, 270 judges from around the world were asked to vote for the true champions at D&AD.
The truth can be hard work to uncover. The truth is sometimes hard to unearth. But the truth is worth it.
And the truth is, Droga5 and Furlined’s campaign for The New York Times was awarded two black pencils for a timely, provocative, inspiring and absolutely ‘of the moment’ campaign, which shed light on the lengths that their reporters go to to get to the reality of a story.
It is testament to the power of the campaign – and the perhaps the power of the people who trump up their fake news war cry – that we need a piece of work this profound to get us to remember and re-value the importance of truth.
But when you have to prove the truth – and when that truth has to be presented in a way that is beyond argument – it does perhaps bring out the best in everyone.
Not least, the creative talent who created this campaign.
To some extent, this piece of work hits the nerve of the power and importance of D&AD itself.
As an award show, it has an integrity and a procedure and objectivity which sets it above all others.
Over and over again this week, judges, juries and hopeful entrants kept telling me, D&AD is the one to win, because it is tougher, it is fairer and it is definitive.
Every decision the juries make is reduced to a yes or no. There is no maybe. There is no scoring from 1 to 10. No percentages or targets or numbers to meet. No sponsors to pander to.
No. Here in London, the world’s best creative people are asked a series of very basic questions. And by making the answer yes or no, the results become about as close to the truth as to what work is good or not as you can get.
Is it good enough to be worthy of consideration for a pencil? (If yes, onto the shortlist it goes).
Is it good enough to be considered the best of the year? (If yes, then wood).
Is it standout work, beautifully executed with an original and inspiring and relevant idea at its core? (If yes, then Graphite).
Of all these pieces, is this one of the best pieces of work in the world this year? (If yes, then Yellow).
And above all, does it deserve to be recognised as a ground-breaking piece of work in its field, that will stand the test of time? (If yes, and only if 60% of the jury agree, then Black).
Six pieces of work were recognised this year.
Two for advertising, two for design and two for craft.
And Australia – despite polling relatively low in the numbers of pencils won overall (just 23 – a tenth of those won by the USA – and coming in number 7 in the ranking to the American’s number 1) – the country had a significance in amongst all the Black pencils.
Not least the eponymous Dave Droga for The New York Times campaign, but also BWM Dentsu for their Project Revoice. Congratulations are most definitely in order.
Other black pencils went to Weiden and Kennedy for their integrated ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign for Nike. Featuring Colin Kaepernick and Serena Williams. 30 years on and ‘Just Do It’ is still doing it.
Microsoft made gaming more accessible with their Xbox Adaptive Controller.
But perhaps the black pencil that I feel most deserved its recognition was Kim Gehrig’s work for Libresse. Yes, another Australian.
Under her direction, the vulva became something that should be positively celebrated. The lyric ‘I need to praise you like I should’ has never been given more relevant and potent meaning.
It was not lost on the audience or the entire advertising community that a female director was being awarded a black pencil for a piece of work which spoke to and for all women.
And the significance of this is remarkable. For I genuinely believe it will mean more and more women will feel empowered and inspired to work in and lead our creative industry.
(And let’s not forget, Kim also directed some of the Nike ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign).
God knows, it’s well overdue.
But, the truth is, this was not done for show, or somehow to create a topical statement. That simply doesn’t happen at D&AD.
No, the truth is, this was simply brilliant brave and potent creativity, beautifully made and passionately crafted.
And for that, Kim deserves our admiration and sincere congratulation. Because what she has done against all the odds, the barriers, the challenges and (dare I say) the chauvinism – is become the very best in the world.