D&AD talks in Newcastle ’11

Yesterday, I attended two of D&AD talks organized at Northumbria University in Newcastle. It was a nice experience.

D&AD Talk

The first talk was run by Rhiannon James, D&AD Senior Manager of Education & Professional Development. She talked us through the process of approaching D&AD student award briefs and an insight into how they judge creative work. As I’m participating in this year’s competition, I found this presentation very informative and helpful.

When judging creative work, the jury includes:

  • Head of Creative (44%)
  • Head of Design (23%)
  • Head of Marketing, Production, Art director, CEO, others (33%)

There are several rounds of judging and picking the creative work. The first round is where they go through all the work very fast, 30 seconds max, and quickly pick the ones they like, to be looked at further in the second round.

The criteria that they use throughout includes:

  • Good ideas
  • Well-executed
  • On brief

What most of the judges are looking for are originality and talent. Work that shows potential. Something that has a “spark” and creates an emotional response. The work also has to look “finished”, mature and solid. Something that makes them think “I wish I’d done it.”

The way you present your work is important. The way you execute it has to help the work stand out. And when you explain your work, you have to make sure that it will make people who know nothing about the brief understand the whole idea. It also should show your thought process, because if they would want to hire you, they need to know how to think and how you come up with ideas.

Other things you can do is to visit the D&AD website and benefit from all the materials they post up there. You can visit the Learning section, where one of the things that are provided is briefs that you can work on. You can also ask your tutor to add your course into the Course Profiles section, which will make your course name show up on UCAS. There are also a lot of other useful information up there that I suggest you to spend some time and look around.

And some might wonder why the D&AD awards are so important. An average student takes two years to find their first job in the industry. (This got me really scared.) A D&AD award winner takes under a month. So you don’t just get the little pencil to show off to your friends, but it gives you the credibility and an opportunity to set your foot inside the door.

She also showed us examples of works from last year’s contestants and let us judge their work before she revealed the winner. The whole presentation was really engaging and interesting. There wasn’t a moment that I felt bored.

Industry Talk

After a one-hour break, Rodrigo Sobral, the Creative Director of The Mill London began his talk on the topic of Storytelling, where he also talked about what The Mill does and how they work. The Mill is a post production/digital agency, who started off doing mainly films and now also commercials.

Basically, the art of advertising is all about storytelling. It is how we can communicate with our audience and create emotional connections.

He also showed us a range of work that The Mill has been a part of, featuring the famous Nike’s “Write the Future”…

…Hovis’ “Go on Lad”…

…and one of the best advertising/PR campaigns I have ever heard of “The greatest job in the world” for tourism of Queensland, Australia.

He also discussed how technology and social media has changed the way we do business and advertise (the same topic as what I’d blogged about a while ago, click here for the post). Before, the companies were just talking at the consumers and never expected them to say anything back. But nowadays it’s a two-way communication.

Also, today’s communications may have one beginning, but multiple ends. The brands start the communication with an ad that inspires and creates an emotional response from their consumers, that’s the one beginning. In order for the ad to be able to inspire its audience, it has to be impactful, entertaining, and useful. Then once the consumers are emotionally affected by the ad, they feel engaged with the brand. Now in this stage, where the brands have no more control of the communication, there are multiple emotional responses, which makes this stage called the multiple middles. And once they have engaged with the brand, they will continue the story by telling their friends and/or consume the product. In this stage, again, there are different ways that they can enable the brands, which makes it the multiple ends.

This whole process can also be called user generated content (UGC).

After the presentation, there was a Q&A section, then we all called it a day.

I found the second presentation rather slow, even though there were a lot of interesting points raised.


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