The 2022 D&AD Awards are underway, with the first of two virtual awards ceremonies taking place this evening. And among the first batch of accolades to be awarded are a pair of extremely rare Black Pencils.
Now in its 60th year, D&AD's mission is to stimulate and celebrate creative excellence with the belief that creativity is a key driver in commercial, economic, social and cultural success. Since its inception, the D&AD Awards have grown to incorporate more than 40 categories judged by a cohort of nearly 400 of the world's leading creative minds. Tonight's event recognises the hard work made by creatives that will inspire generations to come.
The 2022 D&AD Awards saw a record number of creatives enter their work in the hopes of winning a coveted Pencil trophy, but there can only be a chosen few who will be going home with the highly regarded accolade.
Among the first batch of creatives to be recognised at the first virtual D&AD Awards held this evening are 155 Pencil winners in the Craft category, 269 in Advertising, and one in the Collaborative Pencil category. However, the most notable winners are the two projects awarded the highest honour of all: the Black Pencil.
While any D&AD Pencil is a career highlight for most creatives, a Black Pencil is extra special. Specially reserved for ground-breaking work, only a handful of these awards are given out each year, if at all. So to see two Black Pencils awarded in one evening is notable in itself.
The former allows any iPhone user to try a Samsung from the comfort of their own iPhone, using iPhone devices as media placement. While the latter saw Leo Burnett Chicago fight for common-sense gun laws by holding a graduation ceremony for the 3,044 students who would have graduated this year if they hadn't been killed by a gun. Given the recent tragic event in Texas this week, the campaign couldn't be more important.
Donal Keenan, awards director at D&AD, commented: "Based on the first round of judging, it is clear this year has been another outstanding one for global creativity. With a record-breaking number of applicants in 2022, it was a particularly challenging to judge, so we are delighted to have been able to award two Black Pencils to DDB New Zealand and Leo Burnett Chicago. They have astounded us with their unique creative approaches.
"We are grateful to have been able to celebrate, learn from, and be inspired by the immense talent that our industry has to offer alongside the rest of the global creative community at part one of the D&AD ceremony and look forward to the second with anticipation."
D&AD this year continues to platform the most exceptional work from the past 12 months, following the same rigorous judging process. Famously tough to win, there are no quotas for D&AD Awards, meaning that the number of awarded entries fluctuates each year. In some years, no Black Pencils – the highest creative accolade – are awarded. The highest ever awarded in one year currently stands at seven.
As well as winning an esteemed D&AD Pencil, these two projects, along with the other winners, will also feature in the digital D&AD Annual and the accompanying online archive, which act as a definitive guide for creatives all around the world.
Speaking of the other winners, a further 48 Yellow, 116 Graphite, and 257 Wood Pencils were also awarded in the Craft, Advertising and Collaborative categories this evening. These include three Pencils for Burberry's Open Spaces campaign, which sees the fashion brand take viewers on a journey through the freedom of imagination via a surreal short film.
Burberry wasn't the only household brand name to receive recognition this evening. Burger King scooped a Wooden Pencil for its Whopper Heist campaign, which tied into the launch of the Netflix series Money Heist by encouraging shoppers to 'steal' its signature burger from digital displays positioned around Buenos Aires.
Meanwhile, Pepsi's cheeky Better With Pepsi campaign also picked up a Wooden Pencil. This campaign won over the judges thanks to its clever and funny use of imagery, which cleverly works the Pepsi logo into the crumpled up logos of fast food labels such as Burger King and McDonald's. The takeaway message is: Pepsi is the perfect hangover accompaniment to these foods, so don't bother drinking Cola instead.
Adidas had a good evening, too, with its giant liquid billboard campaign joining the Wooden Pencil party. Based on a beach in Dubai, this innovative billboard doubled as a giant swimming tank in order to encourage more women in the area to take up swimming, as well as advertising its range of accessible women's swimwear.
If there's one thing these projects have in common, it's that they represent something of a shift in the world of branding since emerging from lockdown. Yes, they are still creative, innovative, and at times cheeky and subversive, but they also see brands re-evaluating themselves and the ways in which they present their identity to the public.
This is a theme that Donal spotted when Creative Boom spoke to him ahead of the D&AD Awards earlier this year: "We have seen a lot of brands refresh their look or consulate their brand identity, which can only be a response to the bounce back after the events of the recent years. The branding category had over 30% more submissions this year than the prior year."
Citing 'When It's Time' by Energy BBDO for Mars Wrigley Global as a prime example of this re-evaluation, as well as the Pencil Winners mentioned above, Donal adds that health and wellbeing also appear to feature strongly in the submitted work.
This also ties into innovative ways to raise awareness around health topics, "notably McCann's health work for the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation titled 'The Bread Exam' and others that focus on increasing awareness on mental wellbeing issues, such as 'Reverse Selfie' by Ogilvy UK for Unilever and 'Social Bullets' by Area 23," he adds.
Donal also notices that these shifts in branding also represent a shift in brand attitudes. Selling products is not the exclusive priority it once was, with awareness and responsibility becoming an ever-increasing concern.
"Often brands are trying to help address societal issues, raise awareness, and address inequalities in their communications whilst also pushing their brand and products," he says. "We see this in projects such as 'Hope Reef' by AMV BBDO, a campaign designed to inspire people to take action to restore coral reefs."
With another night of the D&AD Awards left to look forward to, there are still winners to be announced in the Craft, Side Hustle, Design, Impact and Culture categories, alongside Black Pencils and Companies of the Year. For more information and to stay up to date with the winners, visit the D&AD website.