Six decades of D&AD awards: the 1990s

George Prest

George Prest

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 1990s...

In many ways, the '90s were a golden age for advertising. The quality, craft and ingenuity of the work produced in this period is truly astonishing. The reasons for this are pretty simple.

The '90s were the last time that advertising was a simple business. It was still all about broadcast. One-way entertainment was the name of the game. Not just that, the industry had had a lot of practice at broadcast by then, had refined its techniques and had hired some of the great creative minds of the last century.

Kids were coming out of art school and film school and were being given big budgets fuelled by years of economic growth and burgeoning belief in the power of brands. The 2000s were just around the corner, the digital revolution was about to wreak havoc but the '90s were a blissful, undisturbed time of fungent creativity.

  • Also read our articles about the D&AD awards in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Playstation – 'Double Life'

What a great ad this is. It won a Pencil for direction but could and should have won for the idea and the writing as well. It's lost none of the impact today that it had then. The creative tension between the tone of the writing and the people delivering it is acute and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more piercing psychological portrait of a group of people anywhere. Gamers weren't geeks any more after this. They were counter-cultural and cool.

  • Year: 1999
  • Award: Silver (Yellow Pencil)
  • Director: Frank Budgen
  • Copywriter: James Sinclair
  • Art Director: Ed Morris
  • Creative Director: Trevor Beattie
  • Producer: Paul Rothwell
  • Production Company: Gorgeous
  • Advertising Agency: TBWA
  • Agency Producer: Diane Croll
  • Editor: John Smith
  • Lighting Camera: Frank Budgen
  • Music Composer: Fauré
  • Sound Designer: Hass Hassan
  • Account Handler: Chris Willingham
  • Marketing Executive: David Patton
  • Client: Sony Computer Entertainment

Volvo – 'Twister'

Tony Kaye is a creative maverick, devoted to his work, unbending, often too direct in his manner for the emotionally squeamish but unerring in his output, a monomaniac devoted to the pursuit of quality. This ad is early Kaye. It transformed advertising into an art form and won a Gold Pencil for direction in the process.

  • Year: 1996
  • Award: Gold (Black Pencil)
  • Director: Tony Kaye
  • Copywriter: Tom Carty
  • Art Director: Walter Campbell
  • Creative Director: David Abbott
  • Producer: Amy Appleton
  • Agency Producer: Frank Lieberman
  • Editor: Peter Goddard
  • Lighting Cameraman: Tony Kaye
  • Music Composer/Arranger: Ann Dudley
  • Sound Designers: Lloyd Billing, Warren Hamilton
  • Production Company: Tony Kaye Films, Abbott Mead Vickers, BBDO
  • Marketing Executive: Crig Fabian
  • Client: Volvo Car UK LTD

Levis – 'Flat Eric'

John Hegarty's wife, Phillipa, a producer at BBH, uncovers a young French director and his strange yellow puppet friend. She hands the director's reel to the Levi's team, Tony Davidson and Kim Papworth (later to become the brilliant creative directors of Wieden and Kennedy London) and the rest is history. Advertising and popular culture are enmeshed yet again. No-one knows what it means and no-one cares.

  • Year: 1999
  • Award: Silver (Yellow Pencil)
  • Director: Quentin Dupieux
  • Copywriter: Kim Papworth
  • Art Director: Tony Davidson
  • Creative Director: John Hegarty
  • Producer: Madeleine Sanderson
  • Set Designers: Bella Serrell, Robbie Freed
  • Production Company: Partizan Midi Minuit
  • Advertising Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
  • Agency Producer: Philippa Crane
  • Editor: Russell Icke
  • Lighting Camera: Riego Van Wersch
  • Music Composer/Arranger: Mr Oizo
  • Sound Designer: Rohan Young
  • Account Handler: Annicka Locket
  • Marketing Executives: Xavier Gauderlot, Larry Ruff
  • Client: Levi Strauss Europe

Mini – Website

Mini website

The 1990s saw the web starting to encroach on traditional advertising

A website! The award sponsored by Apple. It's a playful, simple experience of the Mini brand. Obviously lacking the design sensibility that we have nowadays with the greatly improved tools at our disposal but, with its irreverent forerunner of the configurator that car sites obsess over now, bang on brand. We've come a long way in a short time since then but the fundamentals of brand experiences remain the same.

  • Year: 1997
  • Award: Silver (Yellow Pencil)
  • Creative/Design Directors: Greg Morgan, Jon Cannell
  • Interactive Designer: Jon King
  • Graphic Designers: Greg Morgan, Jon Cannell
  • Programmers: Jon King, Eric Richards
  • Copywriters: Jon Koval, Lisa Lindberg
  • Illustrators: Greg Morgan, Jon Cannell
  • Production Company: The Leonhardt Group
  • Client: The Leonhardt Group

Harvey Nichols – Autumn Intrusion

Thomas Heatherwick's attention-grabbing installation at Harvey Nichols in London

Thomas Heatherwick's attention-grabbing installation at Harvey Nichols in London

Thomas Heatherwick, whatever happened to him? How lovely, after all that advertising chat, to finish off the '90s with a Gold Pencil-winning, still-breathtaking piece of design work. The audacity of it! The way that the nature extrudes from the storefront in such bold, organic forms. The man responsible continues to astonish us all with everything that he does. He's a true creative hero and amazingly seems to be still only just hitting his stride 15 years later.

  • Year: 1998
  • Award: Gold (Black Pencil)
  • Designer: Thomas Heatherwick
  • Design Group: Heatherwick Studio
  • Manufacturer: Jonathan Thomas
  • Rigging Company: Vertigo Rigging
  • Structural Engineering: Packman Lucas
  • Building Consultants: Grove & Company
  • Lighting: Elektra
  • Display Director: Janet Wardley
  • Creative Marketing Director: Mary Portas
  • Client: Harvey Nichols

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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