With the pandemic putting the entire live events sector on hold, D&AD needed some fresh thinking to celebrate 2020’s awards recipients in a virtual way. “Winning a D&AD Pencil is for many a career-defining achievement, so we wanted to make this year’s winners feel extra special in the absence of an in-person awards ceremony,” explains D&AD’s marketing director Laura Kelly.
“We wanted to recreate the surprise and thrill that comes with being called on stage, giving winners their ‘photo op’ so they didn’t miss out on commemorating such a momentous occasion despite the lack of a physical event.”
According to Kelly, this was particularly true for its New Blood Awards, given the disruption and confusion that graduating students had already faced in their final term. “And what better way to reveal the Pencils to winners and give them the opportunity to simulate accepting it than through augmented reality?” she says.
“As our audience is largely on Instagram, a filter for Instagram Stories was the optimum solution. Winners had their own unique ‘Pencil moment’ that they could immediately share, without having to leave their living room.”
As part of the broader ‘Imagine Everything’ campaign for this year’s Professional Awards, D&AD briefed Studio Dumbar to create a 3D digital model of each of its iconic Pencils and convert them into AR filter effects. The AR kicks in when the back-facing camera is activated. The Pencil appears floating and spinning in situ and can be resized and positioned in-frame as it orbits the winner’s head. The masterstroke? The all-important Pencil colour is only revealed when they hit ‘Record’, ensuring that winners’ elated reactions are captured.
Activations like this prove the potential for Facebook platforms, not only to amplify events by sharing content but to create compelling shared experiences for attendees.
“No longer limited by a single moment on a single stage, we are able to celebrate winners over time and distance,” says Rich Kivell, creative strategist at Facebook. “This enables a deeper dive into the work and the judging process, with interactivity and inclusivity baked into every piece of content.”
D&AD replicated the same AR functionality for New Blood, working with Soft Power to create an intricate, animated background in the distinctively vibrant style of New Blood 2020’s This>That campaign. “The orbiting Pencil became a crown around the winners’ heads,” reveals Kelly.
Both Studio Dumbar and Soft Power worked closely with Facebook Creative Shop and Spark AR to design and build the filters, developing a solution through which individual winners could be sent bespoke private links to their results.
“At Creative Shop, we’re particularly interested in business transformation, and how our technology can connect people and brands in meaningful ways,” explains Kivell.
No longer limited by a single moment on a single stage, we are able to celebrate winners over time and distance
“For D&AD, the physical presence of their awards show and festival of creativity has been such an integral part of their business model, so it was an interesting challenge to help them evolve – not only to showcase the best of the creative industries but also to give a platform to graduates and safeguard the future of the industry.”
As it was a totally new approach, D&AD had no idea what to expect in terms of take-up. Fortunately, the level of engagement was phenomenal: the filters generated over 55,000 impressions. “From tears to cheers, pets to pints, we’ve had a blast watching the winners get creative with their reactions,” says Kelly.
Kivell adds that despite the many challenges for the events sector during the pandemic, with the right technological solutions in place, forward-thinking organisations can continue to engage people on a global scale. “While the world will undoubtedly go back to some kind of normality, remote presence will become ever more important to create human connection, even when we’re physically apart,” he says.
Looking ahead to 2021, D&AD is already considering building on the success of the virtual presentation. “Our winners are based all over the world, and even under normal circumstances not everyone can travel to London to accept their award in person,” says Kelly. “The AR element is a great way to connect with our global community.”
Great Work is part of Inspire, a partnership between Creative Review, Facebook and Instagram to showcase outstanding creative work across both platforms. Facebook and Instagram’s Creative Hub was launched to help the creative communities understand mobile marketing. The online tool allows creatives to experiment with content formats and produce mock-ups to share with clients and stakeholders. It also showcases successful campaigns created for mobile.