Andy’s D&ADo’s & D&ADont’s

The pressure surrounding the D&AD New Blood Awards had been gradually building like a kettle slowly boiling. Steam escaped from the spout as we inched closer and closer to the dreaded submission day. The kettle whistled unbearably as our angst grew. Before we knew it, the kettle had reached full boil. It was over. The ultimate anti-climax. Relief.

Sleep deprived, tick. Will I ever recover from the lack of sleep? Perhaps.

Overworked, tick. Were our ideas pencil worthy? Bloody hope so!

Jittery, tick. Do I even care about winning a pencil at this point? Yes, of course I do, who am I kidding, dammit.

Well, the good news is that March is FINALLY over. And just like that, D&AD New Blood is a distant (and slightly traumatic) memory!

Nevertheless, it was all worth it. So so worth it. Not only have we grown as creatives during this intense period, but we’ve also grown as friends – two for the price of one. And that sums up SCA perfectly – nose to the grindstone, mixed with good, clean fun.

So, now that the D&AD dust has settled, and without wanting to sound too much like a nauseating life coach, here are my D&AD do’s and don’ts

  1. DO read every single brief once the tutor pack is released. Then re-read, again, and again and again. Next, highlight the hell out of each brief, After, rate each brief out of 10 and then rank them from favourite to least favourite. This will help you visualise the briefs you ‘like’ (it’s slim pickings, trust me). Stick them on your walls, fridges, toilet seat lids etc. They’ll become your frenemy. 
  1. DO pick partners that you’ve worked with before. However, although a potentially risky move, don’t shy away from working with someone you’ve not worked with before. D&AD brings people together, for better or for worse. Embrace it! For one of my projects, I had the pleasure of working with someone new for the first time. I couldn’t have asked for a better D&AD partner!
  1. DO prepare for mentors to hack at your idea with a meat cleaver. They do this with love. The learning experience here is invaluable. As one of our mentors Pete puts it: “think of your idea like handling pizza dough. When you roll it out, holes will appear. So, fill those holes, stretch your idea, find its weak points and repeat.” Wise words.
  1. DO plan for technology to fail you. Tech seems to have an excruciating tendency to mess with you when you need it most. It’s almost like it knows when you’re stressed. I’m talking about critical moments like when you can’t export your case study a few hours before the submission deadline… (yes this really happened to us). So, buy a hard drive and regularly back up your work to avoid being the team member that loses the work, and then the plot. 
  1. DO have lots of brainstorms and practice 6 Hat Thinking. Release your inner toddler and cover walls with mind-maps, notes and brain dumps etc. Extracting thoughts onto paper will help you connect dots, evaluate your idea and help bring it to life. Or, perhaps it will make you realise how weak your idea is… You’ll quickly become familiar with the stench of Sharpies.
  1. DO check in with your team members and other groups. Never underestimate the power of a hug, a reassuring pat and words of encouragement. The camaraderie of our cohort was stronger than ever during D&AD.    
  1. DON’T attempt to do more than 2 briefs. Nailing one is hard, two-timing is tricky, but three? That’s just asking for trouble. Don’t poke the D&AD bear.
  1. DON’T be precious about any ideas. This is counterproductive. Be prepared for big and small aspects of your project to change, right until the last moments. When mentors give contrasting advice, always trust your gut. 
  1. DON’T stop referring back to the brief. Doing so will mean your idea is aligned with the problem you’re being asked to solve. We all know how quickly you can end up sliding off the brief. It’s a slippery slope…
  1. DON’T work too late into the evening. I didn’t follow this advice and currently feel like a weathered leather jacket. Instead, trust the process, trust yourself to deliver BUT take regular breaks and know when to call it a day. During a recent agency showcase, a visiting Creative Director declared that “there is no glorification to working late.” 

Rest is key to the creative process and boosts productivity, remember that.

And finally, stay calm, keep positive and strap yourself in – it’s a hell of a ride. 

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