D&AD handed out its awards, which celebrate the very best creative work across advertising and design, via two digital award ceremonies which took place on May 25 and 26.
Hundreds of the industry body’s much-prized Pencils (which now include Wood, Graphite, Yellow, White and Black Pencil awards as well as special categories such as Side Hustle, Future Impact and Collaborative) were handed out, celebrating projects from a huge range of disciplines.
With D&AD in its 60th year, the prizes to particularly watch nowadays are the Black Pencils, which are given to projects that the juries feel are truly outstanding. To win a D&AD Black Pencil is rare – the most that have ever been awarded in a single year is seven, and it’s not unheard of for none to be handed out.
This year, five Black Pencils were given to four projects, which all had an emphasis on ideas with purpose or product developments/experiments, rather than more traditional brand campaigns or design projects. This perhaps shows the kind of work that those working in the design and ad industries feel most proud of and want to see the industry moving towards or it could also be a demonstration of the sort of projects that are most likely to win awards.
Winning two was The Lost Class, created by Leo Burnett Chicago for Change the Ref, a US non-profit organisation that aims to use education and activism to prevent gun crime.
The Lost Class saw the charity create a fictional graduation ceremony for 3,044 would-be graduates of 2021 who had lost their lives to gun violence. Awarding the project this week has a particularly tragic timeliness due to the recent events in the US.
Another charity also won a Black Pencil this year. This went to Frontline19, a free psychological support service for frontline workers, which won for Hopeline19, a project created by adam&eveDDB in London.
Hopeline19 is a free phone service in the UK where people were encouraged to leave messages of thanks for frontline workers during the pandemic. Workers could then call to listen back to the messages of support.
Google’s Black Pencil win this year was for Real Tone, a product development for its Pixel 6 camera and Google Photos which allows for better and more accurate imagery of people of colour.
The final Black Pencil this year was awarded to the Samsung iTest website, created by DDB New Zealand, which allowed iPhone users to experience a Samsung operating system on their own devices to see if they like the experience.
All 702 D&AD winners this year can be viewed at dandad.org. And for those who are looking for deeper insights from this year’s judging, D&AD will be releasing a series of panel discussions with jury members on its YouTube channel over the summer.
“In the wake of political and social turmoil, creative excellence continues to not only survive, but thrive, as evidenced by the incredible talent we’ve seen at this year’s D&AD Awards,” says D&AD COO Dara Lynch. “In the backdrop of what feels like a never-ending stream of global crises, it is incredibly reassuring to see that our community remains so resilient, and continues to move in a progressive and vibrant direction.”