Media Design School students score two Wood Pencils at the D&AD 2023 New Blood Awards

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Media Design School students score two Wood Pencils at the D&AD 2023 New Blood Awards

New Zealand has picked up two Wood Pencils at the D&AD 2023 New Blood Awards presented last night in London. The New Blood Awards is the organisation’s annual awards programme that celebrates emerging creative talent and creates opportunities to work on industry-set briefs.


New Blood is one of the world’s largest student competitions, representing the best emerging young talent from around the globe. Hand-picked by industry-leading luminaries from design and advertising, the winners impressed the judges with their creative thinking and practical skills and tonight were each awarded one of the industry’s most prestigious creative accolades: a New Blood Pencil.

David Gillard-Allen and Anja Pienaar from Media Design School have scored one Wood Pencil for Heinz ‘Take a Bloody Break’, whilst Kevin Ng and Gurnoor Bedi from Media Design School have picked up a Wood Pencil for OMO, Unilever ‘Live. Rinse. Repeat.’.

Entrants are in full or part-time education, recent graduates who finished their course within the past two years, or 23 or under. Winners typically go on to work with some of the biggest names in the industry.

This year, emerging creatives were invited to respond to a series of briefs set by leading global brands including Google, eBay, Candy Crush Saga, Gymshark, and Sky. Covering a wide range of disciplines including UX/UI, animation, advertising, typography and PR, the briefs were designed to provide new talent with the experience of working on client briefs. These 17 briefs tackled varying commercial challenges and social issues, including asking entrants to innovate banking in the name of neurodivergence; to come up with words that dare the world to dream; and to raise awareness of abortion as healthcare.

179 Pencils were awarded in recognition of the exceptional creative responses to these briefs, including two Black Pencils (the highest accolade), 33 Yellow, 39 Graphite and 98 Wood Pencils. Seven White Pencils were also awarded for outstanding work that uses the power of creativity to do good.

For information on all of the Pencil winning entries, please see the D&AD website.

Winning a Black, White and Yellow Pencil this year was stand-out entry Put a helmet on like ô by Linh Nguyễn Khắc Hải & Quỳnh Nguyễn Ngọc Nhã of Vietnam, created in response to a brief set by Google Fonts & HMCT to lead the way through type-led activism. The campaign addresses that 2000 Vietnamese children die every year due to road accidents, of which half would have been saved with helmet use. While parents leave their children’s heads unprotected, there’s something they always put a helmet on: the letter ‘ô’. In Vietnamese alphabets, letters ‘o’ and ‘ô’ often cause confusion. So to remind their children of the difference, they visualise the circumflex ‘^’ as a helmet. A lesson every Vietnamese remembers: ‘o’ doesn’t put on a helmet. ‘ô’ always puts on a helmet. This campaign draws on this insight to highlight another important lesson.

A Black Pencil was also awarded to Sky React by Sophie Ross of Norwich University of the Arts, responding to a brief set by Sky to transport entertainment to new digital experiences. People love to share their reactions to great TV and movie moments online, usually occurring on various social media platforms and not connected to the timeline of the content, unlike live tweeting during a TV show. Sky React lets you express your emotions and opinions in real-time with quick reactions and comments tied to the show’s timeline, bringing the live TV experience to any pre-recorded content anytime you want, fostering a sense of community.

Work that was awarded a White Pencil includes Adinkra Braids by Yash Bhut & Alyona Golikova, from Germany, addressing the stigma that women in Ghana face around their reproductive health and The Red O by Laura Orkild, Clara Sofie Ahlefeldt-Laurvig & Sandra Bertelsen from Denmark, addressing the six-week abortion ban in Georgia with a typographically led campaign using an exclusive version of Google’s Lato font, where the red o is consistently the size of a foetus in week six, measuring 6mm.

The Pencils were awarded at the closing of this year’s New Blood Festival which has been taking place this week (5-6 July) at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, London. The winning work has been on display in a graduate showcase of more than 30 exhibiting universities, with exclusive exhibitions of the winners of New Blood Awards, New Blood: The Portfolios with Editor X, and new schools programme New Gen Awards with adidas and WPP. The festival also offered aspiring creatives a number of opportunities ranging from talks and insights by industry leaders which provided inspiration and practical tools, as well as boosting the year’s top talent with portfolio showcases and activations by Adobe.

The winners of this year’s awards were celebrated during the New Blood Awards Ceremony, which took place at 7pm on Thursday 6 July, with local watch parties encouraged around the world.

New Blood Festival

Over the two days of the festival, leading industry professionals shared their advice and experiences through a series of talks aimed at helping emerging creatives navigate the constantly shifting industry as they launch their careers. This included a conversation with D&AD Shift alumni Nate Agbetu and Anita Chhiba, founder of Diet Paratha, exploring practical skills learned in advertising that have helped them branch off into creating worlds of their own within commercial creativity, an interactive introduction to strategy and how it works with design by Design Bridge & Partners, and how to harness Generative AI as a tool in your creative practice with Adobe.

This year, D&AD again collaborated with advanced website creation platform Editor X on New Blood: The Portfolios – a competition recognising creatively excellent portfolio websites across several disciplines, including Advertising, Animation, Illustration, Graphic Design and Digital.

Judged by industry professionals, the work of the winners will be profiled, celebrated and highlighted to industry, providing them with exposure and an opportunity to land their first job. Those selected are also eligible for a place on the prestigious New Blood Academy, a two-week creative bootcamp with WPP agencies. Now in its tenth year, historically 92% of those attending the Academy secure a job in advertising or design.

Says Paul Drake, foundations director at D&AD: “The New Blood Awards always deliver a huge wave of creative optimism for our industry. This year was no different; against a backdrop of job uncertainty, unappreciated creative education and a cost of living crisis; the quality of the work still shone with the winners providing thoughtful and beautifully crafted responses to our briefs. We look forward to seeing what they go on to do next and the impact they have on our industry and beyond.”