Forget crack: D&AD’s where it’s at.
The year is 2030, and micro-influencers and AI-generated content have brought the ad industry to its knees. Trendily-dressed creatives crawl the pavements, clawing at passers-by for ad competitions they can enter—foregoing food to feverishly spend the £12.50 they’ve raised to compete in what was once D&AD, with campaigns drawn in blood on the back of old chip boxes.
Or at least I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ll be doing if this ad-thang doesn’t work out.
It’s not new to me that I’m a bit of a fiend for this competitive ad stuff. During my interview for the SCA, I made the mistake of telling Marc that I like working under pressure. To put that to the test he gave me 5 days (more like 4 and a half) to come up with my 4-minute presentation. The result nearly killed me—but what a rush.
Last week, we were asked to reflect on what we learned during D&AD. I actually found this a bit of a challenge. No doubt D&AD was a big deal and the process probably made me better at whatever it is I claim to do. But I felt I was putting things into practice, rather than learning. Still, some of what I used to get through were some things I’ve learned about managing myself during the most stressful of times; when the excitement of the whole thing could otherwise be just a bit overwhelming.
So, with that, here are my top tips for the working D&ADrenaline junkie—enjoy.
Don’t get high.
Mason Mount once said that he attributes his success to ‘not getting too high during the highs, or too low during the lows’. When working creatively, fun is almost a given. So like the guru Mason, during a project, I find it best to totally avoid self-praise or any kind of celebration. Of course, reassure yourself that it’s going well, as needed. But there can be much reassurance to be had in maintaining a constantly-updated peace with the fact that literally everything could go wrong at any moment. Making stuff is exciting, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Things that you think have gone well, might have gone badly and vice versa. A piece of footage you thought was great may turn out to be crap in the edit. A great idea for an OOH activation might not pass the overnight test. You just never know. So keep your head down and keep going ‘til it’s done.
Working under stress can turn people into dickheads. Just ask my girlfriend how pleasant I was during the making of my entry video. That was a few years ago, though, and I’ve since tried my best to learn that when working in intense situations—or any for that matter—it’s important not to take your stress out on anyone. Your stress ain’t their problem or responsibility—it’s yours to deal with. So learn to cope, and you will be rewarded. There’s nothing people like more than a non-stressed person in a stressful situation.
Look after yourself.
What goes up, must come down—and after the heady highs of award-fun come the inevitable lows of everyday life. But there are effects on the body too. You might feel shaky and weird. You might feel anxious and fidgety. You might notice people talking to themselves and feel a degree more empathy for their situation than usual. You might get ill. Inevitably, the temptation after hard work is to match it with a hard night out. But look after yourself! Book a sauna; make some nice food; whatever your ‘self-care day’ is, now is the time.
Reset like a pro.
Nothing else feels quite the same after a high-pressure award submission sprint. Your food will taste bland; time with loved ones will pass by unnoticed; you’ll find yourself up at night watching graphic anime just to feel… Something. (Think: the final scene from The Hurt Locker). But, unfortunately for you, while you’re wiling away the hours staring blankly at things and longing for a taste, the world keeps moving, projects keep coming, and opportunities get missed or taken. So give yourself a day, watch your award work until you’re sick of it, then get ready to wake up and do better.