D&AD 2018 Highlights

The D&AD festival 2018 was held at the Old Truman Brewery in London and is the second time I have attended the festival. The festival is a global event for the creative industries and is primarily is a conference event by people from the industry sharing ideas, experiences, ideologies, debates and discussions. But also has workshops and stools by sponsoring companies, including; Adobe, Microsoft Surface, Instagram, Dalton Maag and more. There is also an exhibition showing all the work that had won a pencil award this year, which differed from last year where they had all work that had been entered in the exhibition, however it made looking round the whole exhibition much more manageable as last year you almost needed 3 days alone to look round it, excluding any time to attend the talks taking place.

During the festival I wrote a blog post for each day of the festival about talks I attended which can also be found on my website. In this post I am going to pick out a few of my highlights of the festival and summarise my experience.



Oh Shi*! I’m in charge! – with Patrick Collister, Creative Matters Ltd

The first lecture I attended to kick off the 2018 festival was a fantastic lecture by Creative Director, Patrick Collister.

To begin with he discussed how to define creativity. Creativity is taking people on a journey when they least expect it. When looking at a design/piece of art, there is two types of people, those who look at the image, and those that look into the image, and it is our job as designers to create an image that takes people on a journey. When we design, we need to establish where we are taking people and why you are taking them there.

Next, ‘Imagine the vision’… make a game plan. Task Draw where you want to be in 10 years’ time. Then establish exactly what you are going to do and what you need to do to get there. Have no fear! – Collister told us a story about him being promoted to a creative director in one of the companies he worked with and that he then had to tell a number or collages in his team that they were to be made redundant, however when telling his team this he then said however if you lot are all being let go frankly he didn’t want to work there without them, so he then quit and told them he’s going for a pint if they wanted to join… from that pint he then ended up with 2 job offers and moved to New York to continue his career.

Know the brief…

One of Patrik’s slides, Illustration by Hugh MacLeod

One of Patrik’s slides, Illustration by Hugh MacLeod

Take away liner: You only have two gifts to give, love and time.

These are not the droids you are looking for: How to be more persuasive – Kit Altin, The Gate London

The second talk of the festival I attended was by Kit Altin.

This was a fascinating talk about how advertisements connect with people. Altin explained that there are 3 methods used… Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

The Ethosmethod is all about credibility and trustworthiness, aka facts.

Pathosis all about effecting emotions, which can either be positively or negatively affected, aka relevance.

And finally, Logos, which is the method that relies on logicality, so logic.

We were then shown advertising campaigns which we broke down to identify which method, or methods were being used to connect with the audience, to make us masters of identifying them.

Now that I have been told about ‘The magic trio of persuasion’ and how they are used, it will be really useful to use in my own projects going forward. By identifying how which method(s) can relate to a brief, to use in the design creating, and to tailor presentations and pitches to clients around the trio to help sell the idea.

Finally, Altin shared one of her exercises she does before pitches and meetings, which was really useful and rather funny… the exercise was to stand up and take as much space up on the room as possible, then saying ‘I can’t do it, I feel shit, I’m worthless’, followed by crunching up into a ball taking as little space up as possible and saying, ‘I am totally in charge, I am invincible’, totally switching the roles.

How to do what you are not allowed to do – Dave Trott

The final talk of the first day was by Advertiser, Dave Trott.

To begin Trott told the room how they should never play down, sink to the level of the account men or planner. He explained how we need to take responsibility for our own designs and make them run, not give them to someone else to try and get to run but don’t really care if they don’t. take responsibility and MAKE SURE THEY RUN!

Using the evolution of cigarette advertising, in particular Benson and Hedges campaigns and how powerful they were while being told they can’t do so many things, such as have people smoking and enjoying themselves in the adverts under new laws and all adverts need the big f**k off government health warning on, and how far the campaigns could run with this. Instead of having a sexy image of someone famous smoking a cigarette which was no longer aloud, they started just taking beautiful images and placing a packet in the mix. After they didn’t even need to do this, as the big government health warning which had to be included in the campaign already said it was a cigarette, do they even need to include any additional text?! In the end they managed to create such powerful advertising they didn’t need any text, nor any cigarettes in what so ever, just a beautiful picture and the colour gold… the campaigning was so strong they owned the colour gold by association.

‘If you really know people you can get away with saying one thing and people hearing another’ – for this example Trott showed us some advertising from British Airways, who had said in their 1983 Manhattan campaign they said they take more people across the Atlantic than the entire population of Manhattan, however people interpreted it as the entire population of New York. He explained how when you really understand people you can make them hear a different message while still working within the boundaries you are allowed to.

After going to New York for art school Trott explained how the attitude is so different from there to here, in London. New York as a city has a can-do attitude, while London as a city has a can’t do attitude. When moving back to London after graduating he applied that to the companies here which aren’t used to that stand out attitude. He explained how the world of advertising is not for shy people. In advertising you need to stand out, that’s how it works. ‘why be a sailor when you can be a pirate’ – Steve jobs. Finding out what makes you different works!

Take away liner: Do it, Then Fix it. – don’t wait for the perfect opportunity, do it and then you can go back and fix it.



The Company You Keep – Marsha Meredtith, Creative Director, Aesop

Until Meredtith’s conference I had not heard of the brand Aesop or what they did however I really like the style and face of the brand. I like the fact they don’t use celebrities to endorse their products, or in fact really people for that matter, more places and beautiful landscapes. I also like how unique and individual each of their stores are designed, really connecting with the location and the history of the area they are in. For example, their Dallas, Texas store, taking inspiration from the beautiful Texan skies.

For this session I am going to do something a little different. Throughout the Aesop brand and identity, they use a lot of quotes by people who have a similar philosophy to them, so I thought I would just share a few inspiring quotes I noted that were littered throughout Marsha’s presentation.

‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’ – Jim Rohn

‘If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything’ – Bob Dylan

‘Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly’ – Saint Francis de Sales

‘If you believe in fate, believe in it, at least, for your good.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.’ – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Take away liner: If you spend time thinking about what everyone else in the industry is doing around you, you will just end up being the same.



The importance of getting things utterly wrong – Ben Priest, Adam & Eve / DDB

The first lecture of the final day at the festival was by Ben Priest, who shared some stories about mistakes he has made and what he has learned from them throughout his career.

The first mistake he shared was a story about from the early days of Adam & Eve (Bens agency) he told us how at first, they would pitch for anything that moves, regardless of who the client or what the brief, which resulted in what he said to be an embarrassingly low quality of work that they were producing at first. It was not until they started choosing which job they were going to pitch for and started caring for the work they were creating more that things started to pick up and the quality of their work increased. ‘Look after the work, then everything will be fine.’ – B.P.

Priest explained how anyone can ‘get lucky’, meaning anyone can do an amazing piece of work as a one off, the real challenge as a designer or a studio is to produce a constant great quality of work, to really make you stand out.

After sharing a few stories about projects, him and his team had worked on in the past, such as the John Lewis penguin add of 2014, and the Google + Front Row campaign, Priest explained how teams in the industry have changed over the years. It very much used to be a pyramid formation of roles, everything ultimately being approved by one person at the top (usually a male designer), with everything having to be filtered up and down the chain of command to get anything done, with the people at the lower end of the pyramid not really mixing and communicating as much with the people higher up towards the top. Whereas now days everyone in the team needs to be much more of an all-rounder, bouncing questions and ideas between everyone with more of an even level of command being carried out… which a much more efficient way is or working as a creative team, which I have also noticed during my year in industry.

Even when working in a team there will be a conflict in opinions at times on what should run and what should, however Priest was explaining how in hindsight with all creative ideas, and ideas in general you can’t always have everyone saying fuck it its brilliant, there is always going to be someone who says you shouldn’t have done that. Which no doubt everyone will be on both sides of that at times.


One other story Priest was telling us about was an advert he had worked on for Harvey Nichols’ Reward App campaign, where they had put together clips of people shoplifting from the store with pixilated faces, which they had spent hours of going through footage to put together. However, when they pitched it to Harvey Nichols they were a bit underwhelmed and wanted something different. However, Priest decided to not give up on the idea and keep going, to which they then ended up with a fantastic add with brilliantly animated cartoon faces over the top of the shoplifters, totally changing the feel of the campaign. So, making mistakes don’t matter… just don’t give up on the idea, keep going, improve it, think about it from a different angle and push it as far as you can. To which you could end up with something that really works like this. The link to the video is bellow and I would definitely recommend a watch, it is very funny and a very good campaign.


Take away liner: Creativity is full of making mistakes.

Oh sh*t… what now?: Honest advice for new Graphic Designers – Craig Oldham

“They bear their marks, their imperfections, and bring to mind the past that made them” – Jun’ichiro Tanizaki

Craig Oldham has been recognised as one of the most influential designers working in the UK, and after his refreshingly down to earth talk I can see why.

He began sharing his story of education, and people in his life (in particular his family) that influenced him, and who didn’t. Oldham also shared his values as not only a creative but as a person and how important it is to practice them. He highlighted how important it is to be honest and tell people what you think and what your opinion is, if something is shit, say its shit, form an argument! – don’t just like things because people around you like it and say it is good… if you don’t think it’s good tell them, say why.

Oldham explained how a lot of people in the creative industry get very arrogant can be very vane. He said he had come across a lot of people in his career that thought they were better than all the other non-creatives, with an attitude of ‘oh you don’t know anything about design, I’m a designer, I know best’ which he reassuringly says that is simply bollocks. No one is better than anyone else. He shared this quote from his book which was very relevant;

‘I believe that all designers are creative (or God) but you don’t have to be a designer to be creative (of God)’ – C.O.


Finally, Oldham shared a few pages of his new book ‘Oh Sh*t What Now?’ (which I purchased at the festival) with us. One page was from a section where he was explaining how if you were ‘interested in design’ you were always told to be looking around, gathering information, compilation and sympathy. Whereas he said that was incorrect, what you should do is not just be looking, but take observations by questioning something you see… why is it that colour, why is it there, why this, why that. Instead of gathering information, gather knowledge… ALWAYS IMPROVE, he talked about how so many people once they get out of university and land their first job they put their feet up, thinking they have ‘done/made it’, which is ridiculous, keep pushing yourself, keep the momentum going, always keep learning. Finally, empathy, experience it for yourself, if you are designing for something, experience it so you really know what you are designing for.

At the end of the day, we as designers are communicators. Clients come to us because they don’t know how to get their message from to their audience, so we help them communicate it. One thing Oldham mentioned which is worth remembering in projects is that ‘You don’t have to like the work, for it to work’. To finish up, I am just going to share a few quotes from Oldham’s presentation that I found to be insightful;

‘You must define creativity. Understand what you value as a good designer and why. Then you’ll know what it takes to achieve it’ – C.O.

‘I have gathered a bunch of other men’s flowers, and all that is mine is the cord that binds them.’ – Michel De Montaigne

‘Bravery is rarer than talent’ – C.O.

‘You are nothing without your opinions’ – C.O.

Take away liner: Have an opinion, AND SPEEK IT!


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the festival this year. I am very glad I did blog each day straight after the festival as it gave me a chance to look over and reflect on what I had heard that day. There were so many words of wisdom shared over the course of the three days and so much to take away from it. I was really inspired with what I heard and after finishing on a high note with Craig Oldham’s refreshingly down to earth talk and picking up a copy of his book which he signed I cannot wait for next year’s festival.


Oh Shi*! I’m in charge! Image: https://www.kaushik.net/avinash/great-analyst-skills-skepticism-wisdom/ 
How to do what you are not allowed to doImage: https://malcolmbirkett.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/benson-and-hedges/
The Company You Keep Image: https://www.aesop.com/us/r/aesop-knox
The importance of getting things utterly wrong Image: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/07/13/harvey-nichols-deters-would-be-shoplifters-freebies-app
Oh sh*t… what now? Image: https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/craig-oldham-in-loving-memory-of-work