Adam&eveDDB takes home D&AD agency of the year award, but advertising is not the big winner

D&AD awarded two of its coveted Black Pencils for 2023, neither of which went to an ad campaign.

A Pharrell Williams video for his song Cash in cash out won thanks to its special effects, and the other Black Pencil was awarded for the design of a drum machine that transforms the heartbeats of kids with congenital heart disease into musical rhythms, made in partnership with the Swedish Heartchild Foundation.

Adam&eveDDB amassed enough points to take home the top agency prize, thanks to campaigns including The last photo for CALM, Chillboards for Coors Light, A Christmas love story for Camelot, and The beginner for John Lewis.

FCB New York came second thanks to McEnroe vs McEnroe (in which the tennis star plays his younger self) and The billboard is yours to take, both for AB InBev, which won client of the year.

Ogilvy UK took third place in the agency category with help from Toxic influence for Dove Real Beauty, The Hornicultural Society for Relate and Have a word for Mayor of London. Ogilvy and Unilever also won a collaborative award for their 66-year partnership.

As usual, the US was the most awarded country with 418 winning entries this year, followed by the UK (309), France (99) and Australia (64).

Mother’s founders together won the President’s Award, presented by adam&eveDDB CCO Richard Brim. He said: “I chose them because I’m a massive believer in the power of a creative ‘gang’ and no one embodies that more than Mother.”

Brim praised Mother’s consistent creation of “brilliant, funny, populist bat shit crazy work my mates in Manchester knew, and work that showed the rest of the industry a new way. It’s not just their output, it is how they behaved, the companies they started, the investments they made and the films they commissioned.”

Network winners of the year were DDB Worldwide, Ogilvy and Publicis Worldwide.

While purpose and inclusivity still dominated the prizes overall, a creative use of technology was also very much apparent among the winners, heralding the influence of “next big thing” – generative AI.

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