Jonathan Kneebone's 2018 D&AD Wrap-up

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By The Glue Society's Jonathan Kneebone, exclusive to Campaign Brief

Diarrhoea (coincidentally pronounced 'dire rear') is seriously no fun at all. But let me tell you something else from experience. It's nowhere near as frightening as a severe case of the Trotts. 

The one called Dave in particular.

"Creativity isn't about doing what you're allowed to do. Creativity is finding a way to do what you're not allowed to do. That's what will make your work different. The things that other people are too scared or too lazy to try. That's will make your work stand out and get noticed. But that kind of work rocks the boat. Which means a lot of people won't want it to run. But you're supposed to get into trouble. You're supposed to get banned."

Yep, Dave Trott said that. 

Not in the 80s when the first agency with his name on it, GGT, was firing on all cylinders. He said it this very week at the D&AD Festival in London.
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It took a rather frightening 70-year-old (pictured left this week) to make the rest of us realise how safe the ad industry has become. 

And believe me, every one of the finest hipster arses in adland who'd rocked up to the Old Truman Brewery in East London were not only riveted to their seats, they were quivering a little.

Mavericks don't come more plain speaking than Trott. 

Even when he quoted Bernbach's famous expression that 'creativity is the last unfair advantage we're legally allowed to take over the competition' Trott gave it a sinister edge that made it feel more dangerous than a pitbull in a China shop.

When D&AD attract speakers who deliver this kind of stomach-churning impact, it's no surprise that The Guardian has now teamed up with them to take this global festival of creativity to the next level next year. 

This is going to be well worth the 17-hour direct flight from Perth. 

We need people like Trott to make us realise the value, power and potency of creativity. 

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Just as we need the likes of Debbie Millman, Ben Priest, Jeff Goodby (pictured right at D&AD this week), Caroline Pay to inspire us to break the rules, challenge the system and realise that we all have it within us to make great work. 

Getting an injection of pure creativity is what we could all do with.

But - hang on, I hear you say - isn't D&AD meant to be just about giving out Pencils? (Or not giving them out, as is more often the pencil case.)

Au contraire, as they say in Cannes. 

D&AD exists to stimulate, enable and award excellence in design and advertising. And I can assure you, again from personal experience, under the inspirational leadership of Tim Lindsay, they are really determined to make a positive difference to this industry.

With New Blood, RARE, Shift, Impact, Brief to Broadcast, Next, and now their Global Festival of Creativity, this charitable lot (for D&AD is a charity) aren't just recognising and rewarding creative excellence, they are helping to foster an entirely new generation of creative folk to scare the living daylights out of those of us who were starting to think they'd got the hang of the business we're in.

I'm not saying this because I'm on the global advisory board of D&AD. I'm saying it because it's happening. 

And you know they are serious - and authentic - about creating change when the opening title slide of their entire festival is one which read 'Diversity drives creativity'. 

But - enough already, I hear you say - what about the awards? What about the things that we pay shitloads to enter to help pay for all this do-goody stuff to happen?

Well, after last year's third place, this year Australia could only make number 6. 
We were beaten by Germany, France and Japan, in addition to the UK and USA, with a total of just 31 pencils out of the 721 awarded.

Yet again, the Americans topped the bill (with 194). That's two years in a row. So it seems despite or even because of Trump, US agencies did make America great again.

But that's the less good news. The wonderful news is that Host/Havas were awarded one of just three Black Pencils handed out this year for their branding campaign for Palau. 
 
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When you become aware of the level of scrutiny that is used to determine if something warrants even an entry in the annual (a wood pencil), this achievement needs to be recognised with sincere congratulations to every individual concerned. Truly brilliant stuff.

To win one of these, first of all you have to go beyond earning next level Graphite to even rarer Yellow - and then 60% of the Black Pencil Jury (pictured top) - made up of all the jury chairs - have to believe it's truly good enough to clear the Black bar.

The other two pieces of work given the rarest of collective seals of approval were Saatchi & Saatchi NY's film commercial work for their 'It's A Tide Ad' for the Super Bowl, and McCann NY's 'Fearless Girl' recognised for outdoor advertising. 

Creativity can inspire change. 

Whether that's a nation making it a visa requirement to sign up to an environmental pledge, a financial institution making a stand for diversity in the workplace or indeed just giving people a reason to laugh. And perhaps the Tide campaign may mark a turning point away from the emotional mood-film to us simply being entertainers again. 

It wasn't just a black pencil success for Host/Havas however. They actually received more entries in the annual than some countries - not just small Micronesian Republics - but also the likes of the usual heavy hitters of South Africa, Argentina and Thailand. Again, no mean feat.

If you get the chance to judge at D&AD, you realise winning anything is a real achievement. 

While other shows make you think what shall we give this, this show makes you ask is there anything here worthy of anything?

So while not everyone in Australia has got to continue the successes of Graham or Dumb Ways To Die with a black pencil, anyone who got Wood, Graphite or Yellow deserves a congratulatory email. 

A pat on the back. A nice comment on the blog. Or, heaven forbid, a pay rise from the boss.

And for the hundreds or thousands of people who've been left with nothing to show for another year of effort?

How about we just try to stop producing this endless stream of shit?

Because, yes, diarrhoea is seriously no fun at all. 

8 Comments

JK Fan said:

I wish JK would write / talk more often. Truly inspiring and he's right. Stop this endless stream of shit.

EC said:

Great read.

Old CD Guy said:

Dave Trott has never deviated from his simple, direct, no-bullshit approach to advertising and life.

He was already a legend when I met him in 1982.

Andy from Nakatomi said:

I Ilike owls.

always a fan said:


that is some inspiring writing JK

Thank you said:

Best article I've read on here in a long time.

Camilla Sparkes said:

Great piece Jonothan

Big5, the adorable adman said:

Sweet!!!

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