Graphic designFeature

Six decades of D&AD awards: the 1970s

D&AD's design awards have enthralled the industry for over half a century. In the second in our series of articles, R/GA's George Prest looks back at some of the winners from the 1970s.

Design and Art Direction (D&AD) was founded in 1962 by a group of London-based designers and art directors including David Bailey, Terence Donovan, Alan Fletcher and Colin Forbes (who designed the original D&AD logo). The group was dedicated to celebrating creative communication, rewarding its practitioners, and raising standards across the industry.

Today D&AD has evolved into a major global organisation that exists to promote excellence in design and advertising everywhere through educational programmes and rewarding great work through its annual Yellow Pencil awards. Here D&AD's George Prest (above) recalls some of the most memorable winners in the 1970s...

The 1970s was a crazy time of change and upheaval. Hippies withered on the vine, Mao died, there was war in Vietnam, we had our first female Prime Minister, the Middle East fuse got lit and the environmental movement was properly born. In many ways the '70s feel like the beginning of the world as we know it today.

I was born in the '70s. This is frightening to me. The work on display below, brilliant though it is, still feels like it's eons from where we are as an industry now. Also, my first boss, Sir John Hegarty, is featured amongst the credits. These two facts combined make me feel both very nervous and very old.

01. 'How is China managing without Mao'

This is a great ad. It won for illustration, which I think is understandable but even today it would resonate. In fact, news organisations still ape this style of advertising today. The FT is doing ads like this today, very successfully through Adam & Eve DDB. TV channels do the same - pick a story or a programme and bring it life in a thought-provoking witty way. Today we'd chop the body copy off, of course but it would still garner attention. What an event and what a great line 'History in the Making' is, as well.

  • Year: 1978
  • Awards: The D&AD Gold award for the most outstanding illustration, the D&AD Silver Award for the most outstanding illustration in an advertisement
  • Client: Newsweek International
  • Agency: TBWA Limited
  • Illustrator: Guy Gladwell
  • Art Director: John Hegarty
  • Copywriter: Neil Patterson
  • Typographer: Brian Hill
  • Advertising Manager: Guy Thomas

02. 'Policeman'

I've always thought that the crazy days of advertising were the late nineties, a time when post-modern irreverence seemed to infiltrate the answer to every brief that crossed a creative's desk. But this Heineken ad proves that the days of lateral, insane ideas started far earlier. Five policemen with no shoes on drink beer and it makes their toes dance. Forget Cadburys and their eyebrows. This is an original. And the camera just lingers and allows the idea to breathe.

  • Year: 1976
  • Award: The D&AD Gold Award for Film
  • Client: Whitbread
  • Director: Vernon Howe
  • Writer: Terry Lovelock
  • Art Director: Vernon Howe
  • Set Designers: David Bill, Geoff Kirkland
  • Producer: Alan Marshall
  • Lighting Cameraman: Mike Seresin, David MacDonald
  • Agency: Collett Dickenson Pearce & partners
  • Agency Producers: Sarah Helm, Kathy O’Carroll
  • Production Companies: The Alan Parker Film Company, Mindel Stone & Howe
  • Marketing Director: Anthony Simmons-Gooding

03. 'Fish', 'Gourmet Garden', 'Storage guide', 'Wine Spectrum'

Last year seemed to be all about infographics. They were everywhere. You couldn't move without tripping over some data visualization. So it's really interesting to see what it looked like 40 years ago before computers took over.

These layouts won for Best Editorial Design and they're a lesson in the craft of art direction, especially the fish one, which must have been done for real. Imagine if it was still like that today. I'd love to see our designers grapple some fish.

  • Year: 1972
  • Award: The D&AD Silver Award for the most outstanding design for an editorial feature
  • Publication: Sunday Times Magazine
  • Publisher: Times Newspapers
  • Art director: Michael Rand
  • Designer: Chris Bower
  • Artists: Alan Cracknell, Norman Weaver
  • Photographers: Tony Evans, Ian Yeomans
  • Editor: Mark Boxer

04. Ralph Steadman

Ralph Steadman. He's an iconoclast who's become part of the furniture, an establishment rebel, so familiar but yet still with the capacity to shock. Presumably he could have won a D&AD award for illustration every year of his life if he'd bothered. Here he's used an article on American heroes to turn John Wayne into a character from a Cormac McCarthy novel and Errol Flynn into a creepy pixie. Marvellous.

  • Year: 1977
  • Award: The D&AD Silver Award for the most outstanding illustration
  • Client: BBC Publications
  • Publication: Radio Times
  • Illustrator: Ralph Steadman
  • Art Editors: David Driver, Robert Priest
  • Editor: Geoffrey Cannon

05. Paperweight

Paperweights. I miss paperweights. My dad was a businessman in the 1970s and he used to come home with all manner of weird and wonderful paperweights that he'd been given as presents. Unfortunately he never came home with one of these Reuters paperweights designed by the late, great Alan Fletcher. A thing of beauty it is. Made me wonder though, what's the digital equivalent of a paperweight?

  • Year: 1974
  • Award: The D&AD Gold Award for the most outstanding item of design for 1973
  • Client: Reuters LTD
  • Art director: Alan Fletcher
  • Designer: Alan Fletcher
  • Advertising manager: Gerald Long

Words: George Prest

George Prest is executive creative director at R/GA London and a member of the Board of Trustees at D&AD.

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