D&AD's New Blood Awards Tally: 186 Pencil Winners
D&AD president Naresh Ramchandani
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D&AD has unveiled the Pencil winners for the 2021 New Blood Awards, the organization’s annual awards program that celebrates emerging creative talent and creates opportunities to work on industry-set briefs. The announcement comes at the closing of this year’s New Blood Festival which has been taking place this week (July 5-8). This year’s festival saw the event take place digitally for the second time and offered aspiring creatives a number of opportunities ranging from talks and insights which provided inspiration and practical tools, as well as boosting the year’s top talent with collated graduate shows and portfolio showcases.

This year, emerging creatives were invited to respond to a series of briefs set by leading global brands and agencies including: 21GRAMS, Audible, BBC, Burger King, Connect4Climate & World Bank Group, Coors Light, The Walt Disney Company, Duolingo, Fossil & MSL, giffgaff, Grey Poupon, Key4Life & Landor, Penguin, Rare & Xbox, Spotify, Tesco, and The Case for Her & Refinery29. Covering a wide-range of disciplines including advertising, branding, typography, experiential, illustration and game design, the briefs were designed to provide new talent the experience of working on client briefs that tackled varying current commercial challenges and social issues. 

186 Pencils were awarded for outstanding work, including 3 Black Pencils, the most prestigious creative accolade, and 6 White Pencils for outstanding work that uses the power of creativity to do good. D&AD also awarded 28 Yellow, 45 Graphite and 104 Wood Pencils in recognition of the exceptional creative responses to these briefs. For information on all of the Pencil winning entries, click here.

Both a Black and White Pencil were awarded to The Black List, an entry in response to the Penguin brief. With reading playing a pivotal part in developing young people and 40% of GCSE (England’s General Certificate of Secondary Education) students stating they can’t find anything of interest to read, Gareth C E, Jack Walsh and Osagie Samuel from the School of Communication Arts 2.0 created a campaign that aims to persuade the U.K. government to change the curriculum. By spotlighting underrepresented, marginalized and more relatable voices within writing, The Black List movement hopes to reposition writing in a more authentic way and help young people understand that consuming words and stories can empower their own voice.

Lit on Beat was also awarded a Black Pencil in response to Penguin’s brief. Selina Smyllie of Leeds Arts University created a campaign that aims to help Black teenagers, especially those with dyslexia, who feel disconnected from the written word. The campaign aligns the worlds of rap and poetry in order to highlight the similarities between the two, helping to push for curriculums across the country to recognize this commonality and help those struggling with connecting to the written word.

The final Black Pencil was awarded to The You Tour, a response to the 21GRAMS brief, which looks to raise awareness about melanoma among young people of color by leveraging the expansion of the Black travel movement. Reframing the body as a landscape of must-see places, Pernille Lund and Jonathan Fjord of DMJX--Danish School of Media and Journalism, aim to transform a curiosity for travel into a catalyst that helps people to recognize the signs of melanoma and have it diagnosed as early as possible.

Other winning work this year explored the diverse ways in which creative thinking can help tackle social change. Everything from creating an open discussion about menopause through digital advertising to harnessing typography to make a stand against knife crime. Responding to briefs that address important issues such as the climate and inclusive representation showcase the next generation of emerging talent’s demand to be part of these conversations via the lens of design and creativity.

While unable to accept their awards in person this year, the winners of this year’s awards were celebrated during today’s (7/8) New Blood Awards digital ceremony.

New Blood Digital Festival
Over the four days of the festival, leading industry professionals shared their advice and experiences through a series of talks aimed at helping emerging creatives navigate the constantly shifting industry as they launch their careers.

Earlier this week, D&AD revealed the winners of this year’s “Portfolio Picks,” a competition that aims to help recent graduates and emerging creatives get noticed. Judged by industry professionals, the work of the winners will be profiled, celebrated and highlighted to industry, providing them with exposure and an opportunity to land their first job. Those selected are also eligible for a place in the New Blood Academy, a two-week creative bootcamp with WPP agencies, with 95% of those attending securing a job in advertising or design. 

The Festival also gave young creatives the opportunity to participate in a live briefing from IBM for the latest D&AD New Blood Quickfire brief. Launched in response to the pandemic, the Quickfire briefs are aimed at recent graduates, emerging creatives and students looking to continue their learning, develop their portfolio and find paid opportunities. The short, six-week briefs with accompanying short courses provide more flexible opportunities to emerging talent to impress industry leaders. IBM’s brief focuses on sustainability and offers prospective creatives an exciting opportunity to land themselves a role at IBM and to have their submission turned into a real life project. 

Naresh Ramchandani, D&AD president, commented, “The New Blood Awards is a program that equips and inspires young creatives around the world every year to become tomorrow’s practitioners and redefine what creative excellence is for us all. As has always been the case, 2021’s winners once again encapsulate this aim perfectly. With 186 winning pieces of work, chosen by 179 judges, from 3,000 entries by nearly 6,000 entrants, sent in from 62 countries it is clear to see that the next generation of creative talent have what it takes to challenge accepted wisdom, to disrupt what our industry thinks and does and ultimately push to develop a new sense of creative excellence within it. I am very proud to have been a part of the judging of this year’s awards and too had the chance to see first hand the enormous potential and talent of the next generation. These winners make me very hopeful that the future of the industry is in capable hands.”    

Paul Drake, Foundations director at D&AD, stated, “The New Blood Awards are always an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional talent of those entering the industry. 2021 is no different, and this year’s winners have once again demonstrated their creative prowess through their responses to the briefs. Being able to award three Black Pencils after a year unlike any we’ve seen before is testament to the creative thinking of this next generation. We were delighted to be able to host a digital ceremony this afternoon which allowed us to celebrate the winners. Every year, the Festival brings together leading creative minds to deliver inspiring talks. We thank all the speakers who shared their advice and hope the program has invigorated those entering the industry, providing them with insights and the practical tools to forge ahead.”


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