D&AD and ADFEST understand each other. This year, D&AD has sent its director, Paul Drake (pictured above), to run a workshop, Stimulation Not Replication. In May, Jimmy Lam will expose D&AD’s delegates to the importance of maintaining local culture through his presentation of Innova Lotus. Here, Drake outlines his workshop and why stimulating excellence, not just applauding it matters:
Moving ad creativity forward
Stimulation Not Replication is D&AD going beyond simply celebrating work. I think we’ve done that well over fifty odd years. But over the last five to ten years, we’ve tried to focus much more on the question, “how do we stimulate creative excellence rather than how do we just reward it?” What I’ve been talking about today at ADFEST is how we can take the 25,000+ bits of work that were entered into the awards, both D&AD and Impact awards, plus interviews with judges, judges feedback and that sense of what’s happening in the industry, and flip that into some trends that we see driving some of the work. Then also how can we apply that and perhaps see a client or a brief through a slightly different lens.
We gave those who attended an overview of the trends today, but more importantly, we got each of them to work on one of three brands. They then needed to think about how receptive that brand might be to radical, or less radical, innovation and come up with a new product and service. And in an hour and a bit, we managed to get seven new products or services for a whole host of brands.
How advertising trends have evolved
A lot of the trends haven’t change hugely. It’s more how the work has evolved. So there are things like “What is human?”, which has been around for quite a while. But has shifted. It’s now less about aspirational, iconic imagery and almost this notion of the superhuman to something much more honest. And it’s more now about mindfulness, a more wholistic sense of health and wellbeing, and brands having more of an honest conversation with consumers. So tackling things like taboo subjects, offering people a chance to be the best they can be, whether that’s through anxiety busting or relaxation techniques – even down to wearables and tech. And encouraging people to spend less time on their products and actually getting away from a screen.
Another trend was around fractured society and the gap between our political systems around the world and what we want as society. The role that brands can, and possibly cannot, fill in solving some of that. What I think is interesting there is that we’re seeing a lot more brands being more actively engaged here – not solely doing campaign work but thinking about new products and services. Going a bit upstream. So less just about the comms and developing things in and around that comms campaign. The piece I played today was Black Market by Marcel for Carrefour (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3Kg14LS3Lo). It’s a campaign to an extent, and the campaign works, but it also develops a product, a service. There was a commitment there over a period of time to the farmers from the supermarket. It’s a really smart piece of comms work.
The third trend looks at a what’s happening with data and tech in the industry. So it’s a little more navel gazing but there’s a sense that we perhaps need to challenge what we are prescribed in terms of how a platform can work. The type of creative content that works on it. How you tell a narrative on that platform. And being prepared to be a little more spiky and a bit more creative with the use of it.
“If you’re not supporting the next generation of talent, there’s something wrong in an awards show.”
We love the work that comes out of the region. We’re always wanting to do more out here. In the last few years, we’ve probably done more in Australia than we have anywhere else in the East. But certainly, AdFest is, for us, a big date on the calendar. We love it because, like us, it’s not-for-profit and, again like us, it works with young people as well as professionals. And we think that if you’re not supporting the next generation of talent, there’s something wrong in an awards show. So AdFest’s heart is in the right place and they, too, believe that good work works better than bad work. They’re up for trumpeting creative excellence in the right way and doing it with the right spirit. We have some really nice ties and Jimmy [Lam] is coming over to speak at our own festival in May, so we’ll have a nice representation of AdFest over there too.