C4’s Superhumans, Clemenger BBDO Melbourne and US are big winners at D&AD 2017

The UK’s premier awards show – and a growing international force – D&AD has made its choices and the highest awards, Black Pencils, have been awarded to ‘We’re the Superhumans’ by 4Creative for Channel 4/Paralympics (Film Advertising) – United Kingdom; ‘We’re the Superhumans’ by production company Blink for Channel 4/Paralympics (Film Advertising Craft) – UK, ‘Meet Graham’ by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne for Transport Accident Commission Victoria (PR) – Australia, ‘The Swedish Number’ by INGO Stockholm for The Swedish Tourist Association (Direct) – Sweden and ‘DOT. The first Braille Smartwatch’ by Serviceplan/Serviceplan Korea for Dot Incorporation (Digital Design) – Germany.

D&AD CEO Tim Lindsay says: “What an outstanding year for creativity. Five Black Pencils, all hugely deserving of the award. What unites them is a clear desire to create a better world, whether it’s promoting diversity, safety or inclusivity but what is really fantastic is that they win this coveted award for their craft. Proof that creativity as a force for good lives outside of a single category but has become an all-encompassing theme.

“For the first time ever, the United States is the country taking home the most number of Pencils. In fact the top of the country rankings is comprised of countries from across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa, reminding us that D&AD is a truly global organisation, encouraging and awarding talent from around the world.”

732 Pencils were awarded in total including the five blacks and 62 Yellow Pencils.

By country

1: United States – 182 Pencils (usurping the UK for the first time)
2: UK – 164 Pencils
3: Australia – 54 Pencils

Advertising agency

1: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne
2: adam&eveDDB
3: Dentsu (the early leader)

Design agency

1: Studio Sutherl&
2: The New York Times Magazine
3: Landor Paris

Production company

1: Blink
2: MJZ
3: Somesuch x Anonymous


1: Nike
2: Channel 4
3: Apple

The President’s Award went to Michael Johnson, creative director at Johnson Banks, Ex-President of D&AD and a former Black Pencil winner.

D&AD President Bruce Duckworth says: “Michael’s reputation for creative excellence is massive, he represents so much of what I respect about great design and great designers. He manages to distill complicated issues and simplifies them into solutions that you can’t argue with. They’re just right. He does the kind of work that you can’t help but notice, the kind of work that I look at and wish I’d done myself. For this reason and for so many others, I am giving the award to him.”

Hard to argue with much of this. D&AD has been bedevilled for years by lumping together advertising and design, reflecting its roots 55 years ago when press advertising (the main ad medium then) and design were more or less interchangeable.

But Lindsay and co. seem to have made the process rather leaner and the terms of the creative trade may be turning back in D&AD’s favour with some of the best work being ideas that work in a range of media, not just TV. Designers and agency creatives are, therefore, often working on similar projects and competing more closely with each other.

As ever “creativity for good” is probably over-represented but that’s going to happen anyway with international awards as such campaigns are bound to unite judges more than brands do. A good cause isn’t likely to hit the bin as quickly as a brand.

At some point D&AD may have to follow Cannes and award such campaigns separately although the last thing it needs are more categories. Nobody can argue,though, that Channel 4’s ‘Superhumans’ isn’t an outstanding piece of work – on any criteria.

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