In a couple of weeks (November 1 if all goes according to plan), Tim Lindsay will move his encyclopaedic knowledge of the creative industries and their people into the chairman role at D&AD and Patrick Burgoyne will officially become CEO. Despite his patently inexhaustible enthusiasm for the business, apparently inextinguishable energy, cycling to work, trendy tattoo, and collection of fashion accessory designer glasses that lie about his age, Lindsay feels that “I’m 63. It’s time for someone else to have a go.”
[D&AD Awards presentation 2019]
“I love D&AD,” he adds, unnecessarily. He has lovingly guided its growth and development for nearly a decade. Part of the brief for the new CEO was that “we felt needed to pivot in the direction of the design community more than we have and, obviously, Patrick Burgoyne ticks that box in a major way, but with me as chairman and him as CEO there’s a balance. We thought that was a good thing.
[Campaign, June 2011]
“We really are in a good place,” he adds. “We’ve done pretty well over the last nine years, but I think it needs someone else to take it to the next step. And I think Patrick will be fantastic as that main person.”
What else is Lindsay taking with him?
D&AD has achieved a number of remarkable things in Lindsay’s time as CEO. However, “the thing I’m proudest of, which is the most important thing, is that we’ve improved and enhanced the prestige of the Pencil,” Lindsay states. “It’s still highly desirable. It’s the award the people around the world want to win. There are loads of factors involved in that. There’s the integrity of the judging process, the seniority and brilliance of the jurors themselves. Our brand is as strong as it’s ever been and the first job of the CEO is as the brand guardian. For all the things we’ve done, we’ve kept that stature, that prestige and I’m very proud of that.”
Lindsay is also very proud, he says, of the D&AD Festival. “Because there’s a need for it. London has a need for it and the global creative community has a need for a festival that’s purely a celebration of creativity and innovation and the great things that come from that. Without naming names, I think some of our very strong competitors, who have all done their own things very well, have slightly lost sight of the people who do the doing and the making and the having of ideas. I hope we can fill that gap in a way that preserves the celebration for the creative practitioners themselves. I always feel that it’s for them.”
The third achievement that makes Lindsay glow is the expansion of the New Blood Programme. “It’s international, it provides this conveyor belt of talent into the industry and I love Shift, our twelve week night school for people without qualifications but with creative talent, who haven’t found their way into the industry,” he notes.
“I just love that. The numbers are small but it shows the industry that they can and should look in this vast untapped pool. We run it in London and New York and, with our friends in Australia, we plan to launch it in Sydney. JK [The Glue Society’s Jonathan Kneebone; ed] and others are in various ways working to make that happen right now. There’s a lot of support for it. We’re just discussing the details and the timing.”
MAJOR INDUSTRY SHIFTS?
“I don’t want to strike a sour note,” Lindsay comments, “but one of the major changes in the advertising part of our industry is that people used to like advertising quite a lot and now they dislike it quite a lot. That hangs over everything we do in a way, and has lots of consequences. One is that craft and creativity have never been more important because they’re the way to create better outcomes – commercially, socially, culturally, environmentally. And they’ve never been at a great premium, which is what makes D&AD even more important because that’s what we try to celebrate, stimulate and stand up for. I think that’s a massive background change.”
“And then the creative community is dispersing to all points of the business compass. The days when creative work was done just by creative people in ad agencies or studios are long gone. Creativity and innovation are fuel for all kinds of business in all kinds of places and sectors now. Things like in-housing and the growth of freelancing are accompaniments to that, but there is also a kind of creative diaspora occurring, and obviously part of that is driven by technology companies, who recruit hundreds of people who fifteen or twenty years ago would probably have gone into the advertising or design industries.
“The biggest change, though, is the internet and the fact that Google and Facebook have effectively dominated the business in a way that was unimaginable fifteen years ago.”
WHAT MATTERS NEXT?
“I think what matters is the mission, which is to celebrate, stimulate and enable creative excellence in our industry and to campaign for a fairer more diverse industry. And all those things for the same reason, which is to produce better outcomes all round, because that’s what great creative work does,” Lindsay notes.
“How we deliver that inevitably has to change and the main focus as we move into this next phase will be to deliver what D&AD produces globally. We have many products, a lot of which are only available in analogue form. So while we have a lot of priorities, the overwhelming one is to create digital products than can serve the whole community on a global basis, making our products more widely available, our content more stimulating and widely available, making content that comes out of the festival available to people who can’t get to it and the archive a place where people can come and look for what they need.
“Self-criticism here, I think we’ve been slightly backward in making that happen,” he admits. “We haven’t focussed as much as we should on our digital development and digital platforms.”
MESSAGE TO A(US):
“I’d just like to say thank you to all our friends in Australia. Because we’ve had such fantastic support through my time and before – and I’m sure we will in the future. We get great work entered, but we’ve also run these Brief to Broadcast things, we’ve helped Google run Rare and I’d like to say a particular thank you to JK. Because he’s been a giant in these things giving his time and support, and writing great articles for The Stable. Thank you, Australia.”