D&AD (Design and Art Direction) was founded in 1964 with the remit to champion excellence in creativity – globally.

While the era of its founding was full of swinging London psychedelics and that whole grainy black and white Twiggy bob scene – (with the only contributions from the North being moody industrial backdrops for fashion shoots and stolen talent, sucked away from the smoke stacks to “the big smoke”)  – by the 1980’s the ad’ industry was one of the symbols of conspicuous consumerism – and “how much!” exclamations at the cost of every new TV Campaign.

Ad Agencies had gone, from the ink stained finger sweat shops of the 1930s, to become very slick operations – beyond the budget of 99% of industry.

Even regional firms, many miles and pounds from That London, usually had a brace of Porche parked out front and a typecast receptionist sat before and between an illuminated logo and twin Yucca plants.

Even so, and despite the tarnishing of the ad industry’s reputation, the decades up and into the 90’s still saw the short, stubby Yellow Pencil trophy – an award given by D&AD across numerous catagories of commercial creativity –  being coveted by designers and writers who mainly worked for London ad men.

Honestly? We were not that fussed. Other than a passing interest – a couple of subscriptions to Creative Review magazine and a chortle at the shenanigans of the big agencies – it all flowed over us.

Not for us the high profile clients, the back slapping, black tie award dinners – we were (and still are) in the “real world” promoting industry, glamourising the unglamorous, making the small look big and the big look better.

But the Ad industry and London centric design community is a very different scene from what it was quarter of a century ago – even five years ago.

From the design side, the “third era of digital” alongside Social Media and Online Marketing finally starting to get over its annoying adolescence, reality checks are in full swing and won’t be easing off any time soon.

Activity in marketing is everything, Content is King: BUT the “don’t worry if it’s not perfect, get it out there” attitude is slowly ebbing away.

Design – real design, minus the Porche attitude, is back.

From the client side, those innovative “making things” business to business industries, that the UK needs to be successful – often companies that haven’t traditionally taken full advantage of the presentation and communication talent available, are now open to discussion.

We  have detected this same shift in attitude amongst the rest of the business community  – a new appreciation of what is possible – what can be achieved through design integration and how inspired copy writing and great design can make you truly visible in crowded market places.

So this is why we finally gave up and joined D&AD:

An acceptance that maybe the Design and Advertising Industry isn’t as “up itself” as it used to be –  To offer and accept inspiration – and – A desire to contribute to the discussion. 

All of those – but also because it will take the whole of the design community to ensure this culture shift is sustained and proven.

We believe, (along with the Design Business Association #dba, which we were already members of) that “Design” should be a line item on the balance sheet of every UK company.

So here we are members of the #D&AD – ready to further the cause.


Also – D&AD has some pretty inspirational members – like  Elise Valmorbida

Check out “A Murmuration of Writers” here: dandad.org


© 2017 Blue Strawberry Elephant Ltd