D&AD Awards Point to Past And Future

There are two Gold-winners at this year’s D&AD Awards: R/GA’s Nike+ prroject (website shown top) and an ad campaign for the Misereor charity for war orphans from German agency Kolle Rebbe (above)
You can generally gauge the value of a prize by the amount of complaints it provokes. If no-one moans about who won and who shouldn’t have, then you have the worst result of all – irrelevance. The D&AD Awards are always relevant.

Nike+
Misereor Somalia

There are two Gold-winners at this year’s D&AD Awards: R/GA’s Nike+ prroject (website shown top) and an ad campaign for the Misereor charity for war orphans from German agency Kolle Rebbe (above)

You can generally gauge the value of a prize by the amount of complaints it provokes. If no-one moans about who won and who shouldn’t have, then you have the worst result of all – irrelevance. The D&AD Awards are always relevant.

D&AD has been going through another of its periodical bouts of turbulence recently with the abrupt departure of chief executive Michael Hockney. The awards, then, come at the ideal time to remind people of what it does and why. D&AD exists to celebrate great ideas, beautifully executed and it uses the money generated by this levy on the creative industries’ egos to fund the development of the next generation of excellence.

But in these user generated digital days where the death of, well, just about everything imminently approaches, handing out amusingly-shaped prizes for beautifully shot car ads is no longer enough. Whether the D&AD judges sought to make a conscious statement with their Gold Award winners this year or not I have no idea (although having sat on countless awards juries in the past, I know that what the judges are “saying” by awarding a particular piece of work is often a major factor). But by giving perhaps the most coveted prize in the business to the Nike+ project, they have certainly succeeded in staking a bold claim for D&AD’s continued worth.

Although the entry came from digital agency R/GA, which would tend to focus attention on that studio’s excellent website, the award acknowledges the innovation and executional excellence of the idea in its entirety: from the original strategic decision of Apple and Nike working together, through the shoe design with their RDF tags embedded in the sole; the way those tags work with the wearer’s iPod (a system which R/GA also developed) and, yes, to all the functionality of the website that ties everything together.

Nike+ is emblematic of a lot of people’s hopes for the communications industry. It provides a genuinely useful service; encourages community; engages consumers and operates in territory far beyond the traditional concerns of D&AD entrants. It is without doubt a worthy winner.

I’m not sure the same could be said of its co-awardee. Next to Nike+, Kolle Rebbe’s charity ad campaign for Kolle Rebbe’s Misereor seems hopelessly outmoded. Though undoubtedly a worthier cause than Nike, its wearying use of pastiche and platitudinous message represent everything that Nike+ seeks to leave behind. In their execution at least, one piece of work represents the future for the creative industries, the other the past.

Below is a full list of this year’s winners. Click here for a discussion of the results.

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