The D&AD Festival celebrates the world’s best design and advertising. Held at Truman’s Brewery in London’s Shoreditch, the three-day event hosts 150 speakers over four stages, with all manner of additional exhibits and experiences taking place day and night. There was an awful lot to see and explore, so spreading it across more than one day meant I could delve deeply into those areas that truly sparked my interest.
The range of talks on offer covered a broad array of subjects within the design and advertising industry. As much as I love a well-considered grid and cleverly comped image, I had less interest in those discussions, since I’m used to working with those disciplines on a daily basis. I was instead drawn to talks about rebellion, the importance of breaking rules, and how to challenge conventional thinking.
The most memorable of these had a similar message – a lesson to be learned by everyone no matter their job, and one that is crucial to note, given the world’s ever-growing dependence on AI and automation:
Rule breaking enables innovation.
Innovation enables progress.
Progress enables greater outcomes.
Straight-talking Creative Director Caroline Pay was riveting throughout her “Don’t come to this talk” talk. Of course we all did, whereupon she immediately made us applaud ourselves for deliberately breaking her rule.The tone was set, so her adamantproclamation that the client is NOT always right didn’t come as too much of a surprise. However, this definitely wasn’t about self-pride. It’s about creatives having the courage to stand up for what they believe is best, even if it challenges the client’s view– because a lack of debate amongst client and agency partners will never lead to truly effective solutions.
Eccentric advertising Hall of Famer Jeff Goodby also built on the rule breaking theme with his talk “How vandalism will save advertising”. He believes that a vandalism mindset, or having a ‘just go for it, you’ll probably get fired anyway’ attitude, results in a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality. In turn, this unleashes the creativity that leads to unique and unexpected solutions. It also keeps everything fun and everyone motivated – fundamental factors to ensure creatives are happy in their agencies.
Goodby’s vandalism mindset is best summed up by his agency’s Cheetos Museum campaign. Usually, client crisp briefs are hardly inspirational, with little to go on beyond ‘they’re salty and crunchy’. So instead, Goodby Silverstein & Partners gave Cheetos something to say with a digital platform that allowed consumers to view, vote on, and submit their own unique Cheetos shapes. Plus Cheetos offered $60,000 to anyone who could find a Cheeto that looked like somebody famous. Cue to instant consumer engagement and a social media phenomenon – everyone wanted to buy a bag of Cheetos and be part of the story.
Back in the studio, I’ve been thinking about 2LK’s clients and how we challenge convention to get to innovative solutions for them. French smartphone challenger brand Wiko are a great example. Iconoclastic, audacious, brave, provocative and nonconformist to the core, we’ve been helping them stamp their disruptive presence and cheeky French spirit on key international events for more than five years. Nothing is off the table with this bold client, from playful graphics like ‘I keep this finger for calling my ex’ through to their social media ‘Wikonauts’. There’s also Royal Bank of Canada at Sibos, where we resisted the temptation to use impressive new tech in deference to a progressive ‘simple is sometimes better’ ethos.
Here’s to rebellion, because without it we’d probably all just drown in a sea of tedious grey sameness.