08. Print isn't dead
We already knew this, of course. But the volume of print entered into this year's D&AD Awards was overwhelming. "It's great that there were so many long-standing publications on show, proving that they can exist over time," said Minns. "In terms of depth and engagement, there were a lot of very interesting print processes used."
09. Brands want to tap into larger social cultural forces
This year, there were over double the amount of entries into the White Pencil category. "This really says something about how brands want to tap into the larger social cultural forces," reflected Robinson.
One project that attracted attention was a mocked-up cover for Cosmopolitan magazine, which addressed the issue of honour killings with an image of a woman suffocating inside a plastic wraparound bag.
The limited-edition cover didn't appear on the newsstand, but was sent to select recipients, like the House of Lords, with a goal to change the bill – which it achieved.
10. Return to craftmanship
In the Craft For Advertising category, there was a lot of handicraft. "We've seen both a return to craft, and a hyper-digital aesthetic at the other end of the spectrum," said The Future Laboratory. Some brands are embracing one; some both."
A big movement towards the "physicality of digital" was also in evidence at D&AD. "There was a lot of digital craft blurring lines between the digital and physical – 'phigital' – with icons and symbols from everyday life performing in a hyperreal and unnatural way."
11. The rise of neutral culture
The idea of 'neutral culture' – where you no longer target or market to an individual through their demographic, gender, age, culture and so on – is slowly trickling down from industries like fashion into advertising and design. Now, it's about psychographics: mindsets and behaviour.
However, The Future Laboratory team were disappointed with the abundance of traditional messaging seen across the entries to this year's D&AD awards. "A lot of the films and campaigns we came across were very much empowering women or showing a different side to males."
"We're still very much empowering one or other gender, as opposed to looking at it as a flat playing field. There's real scope for pushing those boundaries."
12. If you're doing good for selfish reasons, is it still good?
One fundamental issue debated by the White Pencil jury questioned whether the nature of a business could undermine the eligibility of a project in the White Pencil cateogry, which seeks to recognise and encourage corporate social responsibility.
As Google Creative Lab executive creative director Steve Vranakis, put it: "If you're doing good for selfish reasons, is it still good?"
In the case of Paddy Power's controversial #Shavetherainforest stunt – which saw the bookmaker leak a fake photograph showing a message of support for England's football team carved out of the Amazon forest – the answer was mixed.
The impact of the campaign was acknowledged: the project went viral, generating huge attention for Greenpeace when the company released a second image highlighting the problem of deforestation in the rainforest. But to what extent was Paddy Power using the Amazon for self-promotional purposes?
"Does the company care about the cause – or is it using the cause? No one's entirely selfless, but in the For Profit category, [projects] have to be largely for the good of the cause to feel it's right," argued Pentagram partner Naresh Ramchandani.
13. Greenwash can help create change
It might not win a project a White Pencil, but when the cause is urgent and time is running out, even greenwash can sometimes be a step in the right direction. "I'm ok with catching the bully doing something awesomely good," reflected designer David Berman.
"Things have never been more hopeful – but it's urgent. We have to move swiftly. We have to amplify it when people do the right thing."
If you want to win a White Pencil, though, you'll need to prove your project was conducted in good enough faith: "Otherwise it puts a destructive cynicism in," added Ramchandani.
14. Some of the best projects take a risk
Another project discussed during the White Pencil insight session was Burger King's Proud Whopper campaign. Inside the Proud Whopper's rainbow casing, the burger was exactly the same as a regular Whopper.
Burger King operates in a global market and was viewed to have taken a risk with the campaign – earning the project a Pencil.
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