Adam&EveDDB Wins D&AD Agency of the Year

But there were no Black Pencils for advertising at this year's awards

By Creative Salon

Adam&Eve DDB took home the prestigious Agency of the Year prize and DDB was named Network of the Year at last night's D&AD Awards. The founders of Mother were chosen for the coveted President's Award.

The Last Photo for the Campaign Against Living Miserably propelled adam&eveDDB's success and contributed significantly to DDB's network award.

The team also snapped up Pencils for Camelot's 'A Christmas Love Story', Coors Light's 'Chillboards' and John Lewis & Partners 'The Beginner'.

FCB New York was the second most awarded agency and Ogilvy UK was the third most awarded. In country terms, the US was most awarded, with 1257 points across 418 winning entries, followed by the UK with 843 points across 309 winning entries, then France wit 321 points across 99 winning entries. AB Inbev was named Client of the Year, an accolade to add to its Marketer of the Year award at the 2023 Cannes Lions Festival for the second consecutive year.

Two Black Pencils, reserved only for truly groundbreaking work, were awarded. Abby World took home a Black Pencil in Product Design/ Design with Heartbeat Drum Machine for The Swedish Heartchild Foundation. The device, functioning as a modular synthesiser, produces rhythms using the electrocardiograms of four children with different heart defects. Channelling distress into art, it captures the core of the problem to transform it into something new and beautiful.

And production company Division also claimed a Black Pencil in the Visual Effects/ Craft category for Pharrell, 21 Savage and Tyler, The Creator’s music video, Cash In, Cash Out.

There were no Black Pencils awarded in any of the advertising categories.

We asked Richard Brim, the chief creative officer at adam&eve DDB and this year's D&AD President, what the results say about current the state of commercial creativity.

What’s your take on the state of commercial creativity after sitting through this judging?

Richard Brim: I think if you look across the winners, it’s a healthy year. You always start out thinking ‘oh there’s nothing here’ and by the end you’re thinking ‘wow this is brilliant’. There's some big winners. But the UK didn't feature that highly.

So what should UK agencies take from this?

I think from the UK market there just wasn't a lot of work. So on the global stage we're not featuring as heavily as we once did. Some good work has been done, and lots of UK agencies feature, but there’s just not that run-away work.

For me, my agency has been very privileged to have had a piece of work that’s featured a lot [The Last Photo, for Calm by adam&eve DDB]. But I also aim to have a spread. I’d be equally as proud of the spread as I would be the level of accolades and I'd love to be able to go ‘we’ve got 30 different clients in there’. That’s still better than many others, but I would have liked to have more in there.

Do you think the ad industry should take a message from there not being a Black Pencil for advertising?

Only with a bit of a pinch of salt. There was some very strong work on the table, and Black Pencils are an anomaly, they’re not a given. Yeah. And there's been Black Pencils in the past where people have gone ‘what? how many? why?’. So I don't think it sends a big message not giving one. Personally, I’d have liked to have given one to the industry because you want to go ‘you know what, we’ve done really well, look at this’.

Emerging Themes From This Year's D&AD Entries

• Accessibility and Inclusivity: including physical ability and neurodiversity; equality, empowerment, public health and social welfare were key topics over the last 12 months. Winning Pencil campaigns addressing these include There's Nothing Comic About Dyslexia, by INNOCEAN Berlin, drawing attention using the most-hated yet dyslexia-friendly font, Comic Sans, to ask the design industry to adopt a more inclusive mindset; Media.Monks, Mexico’s film I'm A Criminal highlights the plight of young Mexican girls sold for marriage; and Sun Warning Flag, by HeimatTBWA\ warns beach-goers of deadly skin cancer caused by the sun.

Using technology as platforms to aid accessibility, inclusivity and visibility, Staybl, Havas Germany /Havas New York created an app that allows Parkinson's patients to take advantage of the digital age; Samsung Unfear, by Cheil Spain / Acid Tango, Spain, is an advanced artificial intelligence app to filter noises that affect autistic sufferers of noise sensitivity. The Entourage charity’s Homeless in the Metaverse created Will, the first homeless person in the Metaverse, to act as a virtual spokesperson for this vulnerable group.

• Analogue vs digital experiences: Hot topics also included human connection, algorithms and digital technology vs human culture and creativity, and the Ukraine war highlighting the human cost, with issues around culture, displacement, community, and connection emphasised. We Are Social Milan responded to the language barrier for 50.000 Ukranian child refugees who have arrived to Italian schools. The Welcome Stickers, a set of stickers that transforms any Italian keyboard into a Cyrillic one, becomes a useful tool for Ukrainian children to tell their stories.

• Nature & Preservation: An emphasis on returning to natural resources; renewability, recyclability, circularity, and supply chain responsibility in response to the climate crisis were consistently seen across the past year’s campaigns. Pencils have been awarded for work including The Cloudneo by On, the first fully recyclable high-performance running shoe; Hack Market, a campaign promoting the sustainability benefits of refurbished tech, in which Back Market hijacked Apple Stores, using Apple’s own AirDrop technology and devices to advertise messages for a greener alternative; Accenture Song Germany - Designed in Bangladesh. Made in Europe tackles the exploitation of workers in the Global South, and Publicis Italy - The Unwasted Beer, saw Heineken turning lockdown beer that was going to waste into a global sustainable programme.


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