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D&AD – The Toughest Show in the World

By James Mok, Executive Creative Director, Asia Pacific

I don't care what anyone says, winning a creative award is NOT easy. And the British Design & Art Direction Awards takes delicious pride in being the brutally toughest advertising award show in the world.
This was starkly revealed last week when, as jury members in the Integrated & Earned Media category, we were all were informed by D&AD President, Tim Lindsay, that compared to "The One Show" where an average of 12% of entries go on to be a shortlist or win an award, or Cannes Lions where it's 10%, D&AD's average is a paltry 5%. Scarcity is, indeed, worth gold. Or at least a spot 'In Book'.
As an agency network seeking to improve our creative product, there's no better place to compete than the toughest award show in the world. And as I’m sure you know by now, Draftfcb agencies as a whole have done rather well in 2013. Our best year in quite a while, not just at D&AD, but also at other biggies like One Show and Clio's too. Congratulations to the winners – there are more of you from more offices in more countries than ever before. It can only be good for our brand's reputation.
And I'd be a mug to go to the toughest award show in the world and not pick up a couple of tips. So from what I saw, to be shortlist or better, here are a few things that come to mind:
There has to be something interesting and genuinely fresh going on – if it feels familiar, even if it's good, it won't make the cut.
The creative idea immediately strikes you with its original and relevant cleverness but anything too complex won’t win over the audience.
There needs to be a purity and clarity to the idea – if it takes too long to explain or has distracting elements, it won’t do.
The best ideas have an audacity to what is being said and/or how it is said.
Beautifully crafted work is essential – if it has rough production values it should be because this is right for the idea e.g.Bungay Vs Bungay (it's hilarious).
Clever and relevant use of technology is growing and the bar is getting higher – but winning work doesn't always have be with a completely new technology, it can be a very original use of an existing one.
Ideas that hijack existing mediums or properties did well this year (e.g.Don't Cover It Up,HashTag Killer,YNYWYH Twitter campaigns in Integrated/Earned Media; Call Girl inOutdoor).
Entry videos are a creative challenge in themselves; they need to be told as an interesting and involving story, embellished with great production values – it gives the idea clarity and imbues it with quality.
Entry videos rich with relevant imagery (e.g. making of the idea, audience participation, audience reactions, media coverage etc) amplifies the story – you have to plan for this rather than hope there is good material after the job is done.
The more the award video or idea is able to solicit a strong emotional reaction from the jury – laughter, empathy, admiration, intellectual stimulation etc – the stronger chance of being awarded.
The earlier you state your brilliant idea, or insight that informs the idea, the better.
You're filled with envy and wished your agency had done the idea.
Obvious? Probably. Easy to do? Definitely not.

But Draftfcb offices have proven to be up for the challenge. So let’s see if we can do even better next year.

See the work that is 'In Book' or received a nominationhere.