D&AD, 2020-style: Apple, Burger King and Ikea win Yellow Pencils, minus the fanfare

D&AD, which normally takes place in May, has been a bit of a damp squib this year. Not just because of the pandemic, or the cost-cutting exit of CEO Patrick Burgoyne, but because the winners are being announced in dribs and drabs.

The biggest prize – the mighty Black Pencil – is due in September. Presumably D&AD is hoping that by some miracle we can all get dressed up for an awards ceremony by then.

Yellow Pencils were announced this week, and take on a bigger significance with no Cannes Lions to anticipate. Often, D&AD awards are an echo of Cannes winners from the previous year, but for 2020, some of the biggest campaigns are fresh to the awards circuit.

Despite revolting much of the industry and the wider public, Burger King’s “Moldy Whopper” (by WPP agencies David Miami and INGO Stockholm) is the big winner so far, with five Yellow Pencils.

Ikea’s much-loved “Silence the Critics” Christmas ad was the biggest UK winner with two Yellow and four Graphite Pencils. Agency Mother London is also the most-awarded UK agency, thanks to additional wins for its beautiful but unfortunately-timed KFC “Finger Lickin’ Good” campaign.

Apple’s magical AirPods ad, “Bounce,” won two Yellow Pencils for TBWA\Media Arts.

BBDO New York’s “Back to School Essentials” for the Sandy Hook Promise, showcasing disturbing uses for standard school equipment, also won two Yellow Pencils.

The top five agencies are Africa Brazil, Mother London, Dentsu Inc and Droga5 New York. The US is the top-performing country, winning 14 of the 61 Yellow Pencils for advertising, followed by UK (5), then Brazil and Germany (3 each).

BT Sport’s “Unscripted” by Wunderman Thompson UK won one Yellow Pencil. It used big data to predict every twist and turn of the 2019/20 Premiere League, and outraged enough people to increase subscriptions by 30%, but cost just 26% of the 2018 budget.

Tim Lindsay, D&AD chairman, said: “Our industry never ceases to push boundaries, challenge expectations and adapt to new circumstances. D&AD are delighted to be able to continue celebrating and stimulating the best work, even in these most trying of times.”

Other Yellow Pencil winners more familiar to the awards circuit include “The Tampon Book” by Scholz & Friends Berlin, UNESCO “History Blocks” by Africa in Brazil, and “Pay it Forward” for the Big Issue by FCB Inferno in London.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is the former London Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.