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D&AD Goes Behind the Scenes on Black Pencil Judging


RSA-produced documentary features the biggest names in advertising and design fighting it out to award the creative industry’s top prize

D&AD Goes Behind the Scenes on Black Pencil Judging


D&AD is busy sharpening its pencils ahead of this year’s 50th birthday, and to mark this major milestone they’ve released a film that reveals just what goes on in their hallowed judging rooms.
As one of the most coveted awards in design and advertising, the judging process for the D&AD Black Pencil is a rigorous affair. With a judging panel comprised of the biggest names in advertising, and the decision-making sessions are a potent mix of high standards and high drama.
What better subject then for this RSA Films-produced documentary? Featuring many of the most recognisable ads and designs from 2012 and a panel of the world's most famous ad creatives and designers, the film offers a tantalising glimpse of D&AD judging.

In fact the film is unprecedented; most award shows are secretive about how they award their prizes. D&AD is famous for the rigour of its judging and the subsequent rarity of its awards. The number of Yellow Pencils issued every year fluctuates: if the work isn't strong enough, it doesn't win. Black Pencils are given out even more sparingly than Yellows, in some years there are none. The quality of debate at D&AD judging is renowned – and for the first time, this film reveals why. 
The 66 Yellow Pencils awarded in 2012 were considered for Black by a panel that included Sir John Hegarty, David Droga, Mark Tutssel, Angus Highland, Mary Lewis and Bob Greenberg.
Panel member and former D&AD President Sir John Hegarty had this to say of the lasting magic of the Black Pencil: “Is the pencil dead? In today's digital world some would argue so. There is one pencil of course that isn’t. It’s big, black and stubby. It doesn’t write, it’s hard to hold and can’t fit in your top pocket,” 
“It’s the most sought after pencil in the world. Sharper than anything else you’ve written with. Displayed on shelves, desks and in cabinets. Photographed, worshipped, fought over and lusted after. It’s the D&AD Black Pencil.
“Black has become the most coveted colour there is. It conjures envy and admiration. You can rent a black tie, you can purchase a little black dress but you have to earn a Black Pencil. Its currency is inspiration, daring, persistence and audacity. It’s rarity renowned. Awarded rarely, and only to those who’ve captured our imagination and changed the way we think.
"So is the pencil dead? Certainly not this one.”
The Black Pencils will be revealed at D&AD's 50th Birthday Celebration on the 18th September. 
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