Heckler co-founder and executive producer Will Alexander sits down with D&AD chief executive Tim Lindsay and Aussie expat and D&AD global development director Paula Taylor to talk about Australia’s success at this year’s D&AD Awards and what new initiatives are in store for 2020, including launching D&AD New Blood Shift down under.
Will Alexander: How have the D&AD Awards been this year?
Tim Lindsay: The awards entry levels were good this year. It took a slight dip last year because of the decision by Publicis Groupe to pull out which represented 10% of our entries. But they have come back and we’re at a good number. And what’s also pleasing is that the festival numbers are also strong, we’ve grown every year and it now feels much fuller.
WA: Can you tell me about D&AD New Blood Shift. I understand that you’re looking to launch it in Sydney?
Paula Taylor: Shift is our intensive night school program that places an emphasis on raw, untrained talent with the aim of transforming their creative talents so they can forward their careers in the creative industry. It is a free 12-week program that we currently run in London and New York. We’re talking with Jonathan Kneebone from the Glue Society who is on our global advisory board and others from Australia about rolling it out in Sydney. So far, we have had about 100 people though the program, with 58% of those coming from ethnic minorities and 70% are now making a living of some sort in the industry. We think it will really be able to work in Australia and there is certainly a lot of interest in getting it off the ground. Watch this space!
WA: How is D&AD Impact going will there be changes this year?
TL: Impact is now in its fourth year and recognises original and transformative ideas that are influencing business and society as a whole. We’re pleased with how it’s tracking but have made some more changes this year that we hope will elevate it even further. We’ve moved it to the first week of November in New York and have reduced the categories to six broad themes. There is a lot of work being done in the industry to drive positive change in the world and I know there is some great work coming out of Australia around this, so I’d encourage all agencies to enter this year.
WA: Can you talk about D&AD’s partnership with The Guardian?
TL: We’ve announced an exciting partnership with The Guardian, which will be launching in 2020. They have been an investor in Ascential Events which are the organisers of the Cannes Lions. They have seen how good these things can be, not that we are going to become Cannes at all, we don’t want that and nor do they. London doesn’t have a festival of creativity, culture and craft and it needs it. There is a real opportunity to establish something that is incredibly stimulating for people interested in creativity and innovation. The Guardian are coming on board as a commercial and media partner and that will be brilliant for us amplifying the work we are doing and the winners. It’s about getting our content out there.
WA: How does Australia stack up against the rest of the world?
TL: Normally Australia punches above its weight and you do great work. D&AD means something there, maybe because there are so many Brits working in the industry! The number of Australian winners is a little bit down this year, but that could be down to the quality of the work or economic factors.
WA: How has Australia done at D&AD this year.
PT: Well the standout was ‘Project Revoice’ from BWM Dentsu, FINCH/Nakatomi and Haystac which has picked up just one of six Black Pencil’s awarded this year. What’s even more exciting is that it’s the first time a Black Pencil has been awarded for Digital Design Innovation. It was truly outstanding work and demonstrates the real innovation coming out of Australia that is on par with the rest of the world.
Overall Australia has done well, ranking seventh in the world with 27 Pencils, including three Yellow Pencils – one for ‘Project Revoice’ and then The Brand Agency Perth for Foodbank WA ‘Hungry Puffs’ and VMLY&R, Sydney for Alexa ‘Lifeline’.
I’m also delighted to see Aussie director Kim Gehrig recognised for her work for ‘Viva la vulva’, created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for Libresse and sister brand Bodyform which won in the Direction category. She has earned her place alongside outstanding directors such as Michele Gondry and Spike Jonez, so it’s great to see her do so well.
Australia has had a good year, but hopefully we’ll be able to top that in 2020!