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5 Minutes with… D&AD CEO, Tim Lindsay and D&AD President, Rosie Arnold


What the D&AD are Planning to Celebrate their 50th Anniversary

5 Minutes with… D&AD CEO, Tim Lindsay and D&AD President, Rosie Arnold

Interviewed by LBB editor, Gabrielle Lott 

LBB > 2012 is the 50th year of the D&AD awards and I gather that there will be a different structure this year. Can you talk us through that and why you’ve made these changes? 
TL > There is a different structure this year. Award ceremonies, not just the D&AD but, by definition, are normally slightly overlong and whenever an award ceremony meets a party head on, the party tends to win. We didn’t want there to be a freeway crash with the 50th celebration… Thursday April 19th, there shall be an event at the IMAX Cinema in London. This will be invitation only to all yellow pencil winners and press and shall be held at the end of the judging week and the jury will be there to discuss why they selected the work that they have chosen. 
Black Pencil judging will be held on the Friday and then on September 13th, at a venue (TBC) there will be a proper party and dinner where we will honour the yellow pencil winners by having them on stage and where we shall announce the black pencil winners, President’s Award and then league tables: most awarded design studio, brand, advertising agency and most awarded production company. We will present the top ten from each of the categories within the league. 
LBB > And is there any kind of award that is for the 50th? 
TL > That will be the white pencil…
RA > …but that won’t actually be judged until after this round because we are [working] in association with Peace One Day. Peace One Day is an organisation set up by Jeremy Gilley ( He had the idea that you could have the 21st September as an international day of peace where everybody would lay down his or her arms and humanitarian aid could go in. Jeremy had this ratified by the UN shortly before September 11th and he is on a one-man mission, around the world, to get September 21st institutionalised. It’s not about raising money, it is about raising awareness; he went into Afghanistan in 2007, the Taliban agreed to it which meant that over 2,000 children were inoculated against Polio that day. 
Peace One Day felt like the perfect partner for D&AD, in that we felt that it was a global brief that could be answered by any solution, whether it be design or advertising, a solution that will help institionalise the 21st September as Peace One Day. 
So that’s the brief and because it is date specific this year, we will judge the entrants from the end of September, through to the first of November. In future years, because we want to perpetuate the White Pencil, every year we will chose a different cause to support. 
LBB > So it’s work that changes the world for the better? 
TL > Exactly, to demonstrate that creativity can be a force for good, commercial creativity in particular. It has got a lot of interest from clients as well, because a lot, if not all of them are on a sustainability mission and they want to prove that what they do can have a higher purpose before profit. It ties in beautifully and as such it has generated a lot of interest. Rosie will chair the first jury, which will hopefully bring 100s of ideas down to 20 and then Rosie, as forewoman, will present those ideas to a second jury at the end of November that will be chaired by Lord David Puttnam, who is a great friend of the D&AD. Unilever have made a major financial commitment to D&AD to secure the future of the White Pencil for years to come (this was announced 16th April). There will be white slices also for runners up, so all outstanding efforts will be recognised. 
LBB > 50 years ago the D&AD was formed to celebrate creative communication and raise standards within the industry… Has that maintained, how has that developed or changed in any way, is that still the core? 
TL > The original phrase (there were a number of things said) was, ‘Stimulation, not congratulation’, which people still like as a summary mission statement. It’s a nice way of summarising the things that you said and in answer to your question, yes, I really think it has
RA > It is still the award that creatives want to win, more than anything else.  Not just in the UK, that’s globally. The D&AD is prized the highest. It has kept its value because it is very exact in its standards and we’re beholden to no one. We don’t have to give an award out. Quite often, with juries in the past, organisers have felt the pressure of sponsors; D&AD have always said, ‘No’ when there are no winners within a category. It is tough to win; I think that’s what keeps the standards high. 
TL > And, the integrity of the judging process is very high and the quality of the juries is very high. I don’t want to cast aspersions on other award shows but I do think that most people would like their work to be judged by a D&AD jury rather than another award show jury. Not only for the selection of the panel, but for the process. It is an unbelievable, logistical triumph, that is held in London’s Olympia. 
RA > You walk in to this incredible crystal space where work is laid out as far as your eye can see.
TL > Literally, thousands and thousands of entrants.
LBB > Going back to what you were saying earlier, and looking at the stats from last year, you had a huge amount of global entries into the awards. 64 countries, with 53 yellow pencils and 6 black, but 140 countries were covered within the jury. Has that always been the case?
TL > No, there was a timeline, particularly in advertising, but also in design where London thought it was the centre of the known universe and that nothing else mattered. That wasn’t a totally unjust point of view, the work did shine, but during that period, which perhaps started to come to an end around the early 90s, the business globalised, clients globalised their business, agencies globalised, particularly advertising agencies and now, trying to confine work to a national border is ridiculous because the internet has made that ridiculous, apart from anything else. At some time, probably 10-12 years ago, D&AD took the decision that we would go with the trend and not be ‘British D&AD’, which was actually what it was called up until probably 12-15 years ago. The award opened its arms and embraced the global creative community and now, as you’ve just mentioned, I think 70% of entrants come from outside the UK and probably, roughly, half the jurors.
RA > The criteria for being a judge is that you have to have work in the book, so you are judged by people that have been awarded and that are at the peak of their game. 
LBB > Tim, you were appointed to your role as CEO of D&AD in June of last year and at the time you said, ‘it was the dream job to work for such a wonderful organisation’… Could you tell me about your role and what it is you enjoy about it? 
TL > That’s a really good question. My main job is to be the chief sales officer actually and to get out there, with Rosie and the Chairman, Dick Powell and promote D&AD and extol its mission. Talk it up, which I do, I hope with some success, but which I definitely do with massive enthusiasm as I do, genuinely love the organisation. Internally, there are lots and lots of really significant opportunities (and I don’t mean problems by that) and it’s ticking along quite nicely. It makes a surplus and always has done; financially, D&AD is in a good place. There are huge opportunities in membership, with international expansion, embracing the client community, developing our professional educational offerings. Now all of that sounds quite boring and transactional, but all those things are extremely important and we are very ambitious here at D&AD. I believe we could double out revenues in the next three to four years and the reason that’s important is because the surplus goes into furthering education, which is grotesquely underfunded in this country. The more money we make, the more we can be a force for good. I think what we represent, who we are, the award show extols the role of creativity within business, but actually putting money in and helping people be able to get into creativity education and eventually into the business is really important. 
LBB > Rosie - your role, as D&AD President means that you’re overseeing and reporting back to the executive committee…
RA > The role of President is very much being the spokesperson as well and being the public face of the organisation.  I hold an enormous amount of talks and I get the White Pencil out on the road. I have an absolute passion about D&AD, it’s how and why I got into the industry. I did the D&AD evening classes whilst I was still at art school, a million years ago, and they opened the door to me by showing me what the industry is, how I could get a portfolio together. I wouldn’t have gone to art school if the current system was in place. The thought of getting a massive overdraft and loan to obtain an education would have been incredibly daunting. I passionately, passionately believe that there needs to be some voice for the creative arts and design. The demise of the design council and things… There is really limited representation for the importance of design and advertising out there. One of the reasons for the White Pencil was to actually demonstrate the force for good that the design and advertising community have. I believe that the governments around the world are starting to recognise this. Particularly in the current climate, where everybody and everything is about money, banks, what are we to do about the economy, but without creative solutions we won’t overcome our problems. 
Tim is being very modest. He has put many things in place that are going to revolutionise how the D&AD works and with the executives’ blessing and with the finalization of these ideas, we will be able, in the future, to share with you the great work he has been putting together. D&AD’s intent to put back into education and to be a spokesperson for education will become clearer as we release and share more news regarding our intentions. 
TL > We will clarify the way in which we donate money to creative education. We will make it much clearer and we shall increase it over time. As Rosie says, we need to increase our membership, we need to increase our revenues, we need to increase our clout, not for purposes of self merit, but because the creative industries do need a voice and they don’t currently have one here in the UK. We currently don’t have a consolidated offering. Our current government needs a fucking good kicking for what it is doing to 8% of our gross national product, bigger than the financial services, bigger than… It’s as stupid as Germany ceasing to teach engineering in universities. That’s about how clever it is, in terms of talking about the UK national economy. The fifteen defined creative industries, of which advertising is the biggest, generates something between 7-8% of the GDP…it is unbelievable. 
RA > They are pulling facilities funding art and design. They’ve taken industrial design out of schools 
TL > Royal College of Art has lost 80% of its funding and will have to become a private, post-grad university.
RA > Insane
LBB > As a charity, are you petitioning the government? 
TL > We do when we get the opportunity, but going back to what I said earlier, we need to increase our membership, in particular, in order to give ourselves the platform to have these conversations. 
RA > We want to drive people to the website to make that a real area of debate. There were really interesting debates online when Gap changed their logo and when Waterstones dropped their apostrophe… What we are trying to be is as relevant today, in the ever-expanding media as we were when we started 50 years ago; to be a real forum for debate, discussion, lobbying; as the voice of creativity. 
TL > To be a global creative community – professional and student. That is the long-term ambition to be a focal point for all the industry.
RA > World domination!
LBB > Rosie Arnold wants world domination… 
RA > Let’s make the world full of creatives!


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