It’s been a week of fancy frocks and dancing shoes as the industry throws itself into the midwinter awards season. Eurobest has just kicked off, earlier in the week the London production scene gathered for the British Arrows Craft Awards and Epica has been celebrating worldwide creativity. But perhaps the most interesting trophy to be seen this week is the rather modest-looking White Pencil. While other awards judge by creativity or effectiveness, this brand new initiative from the D&AD is all about social good.
LBB founder Matt Cooper attended the event and came into the office the following day brimming with enthusiasm about all he had heard from the White Pencil Symposium speakers.
With authenticity the watchword of the evening, the main award went to a simple, hearty campaign from Leo Burnett Chicago. Recipeace is a movement that celebrates the power of food to bring people together. However the night wasn’t just about singling out one piece of work – all of the campaigns on the shortlist were also very strong and moving – but about nurturing a growing trend within advertising as well as the wider business world.
Sitting in the zen-like middle ground between evangelical composters and Gordon Gecko throw-backs are agencies and brands that believe that social responsibility and business sense need not be mutually exclusive and that peace comes before profit.
As access to information and channels of communications grow, brands live or die by their actions, not words. Commercial sins are never buried for too long these days. And yes, there have been and continue to be companies that hi-jack do-gooding causes in exchange for a few cheap brownie points, but at the risk of being a wide-eyed naïf, I do think that there really are some genuine, authentically-meant and socially-effective projects to emerge from the professionally creative. Earth Hour, Saatchi’s Blood Relations, for example.
Years ago I heard Private Eye editor Ian Hislop speak about the distinction between scepticism and cynicism – and his words have stuck with me. While a bit of ‘wait-and-see-let’s-take-it-with-a-pinch-of-salt’ is always healthy, misanthropic dismissiveness ain’t going to get us anywhere.
It will be interesting to see if these projects really are just a drop in the ocean or whether they and the D&AD White Pencil represent the ripples running ahead of bigger waves to come. I do hope so. As a chronic over-thinker, I have a slight/massive tendency to let relentlessly bleak newspaper headlines get the better of me. But I’ve heard a lot of people in the ad industry talk about these ideas quite a bit over the past few months and the D&AD White Pencil is a timely acknowledgement of a trend which could have far-reaching political, economic and social implications.
So. It seems that this week’s Laura’s Word has definitely gone a bit more chin-strokey than I had initially intended. To lighten the mood, I sincerely recommend you check out the new Christmas music video for Cornershop by Passion Pictures’ Chris Curtis.