Conference, Design, UI Design

Our Takeaways from the D&AD Festival 2018

 By Alex Taylor, Art Director at Backelite


Our heads are still spinning with excitement after our trip to London last month to attend the D&AD festival! We thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere in and around the Old Truman Brewery situated in Brick Lane on the east side of town: the artisanal coffee, English craft beers, and delicious food trucks were bonuses to the wonderful works on display which were submitted to the annual competition in hopes of garnering the coveted Pencil awards. The submitted creative works spanned all mediums: advertising, video, branding, packaging, product design, book design, retail design — you name it!

After admiring these works and listening to all of the talented speakers share their experiences, here are a few of the inspiring trends which we plan to keep in mind here at Backelite:

– Design for good
– React to what’s going on in the world
– Access all channels


Design for good

As modern consumers who rely more and more on technology, we’re looking to our favorite brands for ways to optimise our daily lives: smart watches, connected homes, augmented reality, and so on. The potential which is promised by cutting-edge technology is hugely exciting, but brands must be careful not to lose sight of what matters most: the humans for which these solutions are created.

Recently named the 5th most innovative company in their sector by FastCo, Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors reminded us to approach these solutions with empathy. They feel that marketers need to talk less about tech buzzwords like Big Data, AR, and AI, and talk more about producing solutions for humans. This isn’t to say that brands shouldn’t use these bits of technology; it just means that they should be careful about the narrative and how they talk to the consumer. At the end of the day, those brands which end up being permanently integrated into consumers’ lives are the ones who strive to improve humanity or to optimise our performance, or to drive equality. In other words, it’s those brands who leverage what they’re doing more than how they’re technically doing it which succeed.

Two brilliant examples of designing for good in ways which use technology but with a human approach were presented by Grey CCO Caroline Pay:

The Wayback is a 360° virtual reality film series created for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as their caretakers. The short films are meant to transport the elderly patients back to earlier times in hopes of jolting their memories so that they may remember and find themselves again, even if only for a short while. The results are unarguably extremely touching.


Agency: Grey London  / Client: The Wayback


The Swear Jar project uses a mobile app and Google’s voice recognition technology which donates 20 cents to a charity each time it hears you swear. This simple idea was so successful that it managed to raise £73.3 million (83 million euros)!

Agency: Grey London /  Client: Comic Relief & Red Nose Day


React to what’s going on in the world

It’s not a new concept but it’s certainly being more fully embraced these days: Brands are realising that it’s no longer enough to just offer services and products for the sole purpose of consumption. Their approaches have become more proactive than that as they recognise that they have the opportunity to speak up rather than sitting on the sidelines of society. And why shouldn’t they? A brand, after all, is often described as a company’s personification, so it only makes sense that it too could have its own convictions and opinions. At D&AD, we came across a plethora of opinionated brands reacting to the hot issues in today’s fractured society, including climate change, diversity and equality, globalisation, and war. Sometimes we saw campaigns attempting to move the proverbial moral compass, and other times we saw brands simply encouraging action from consumers without the brands themselves taking a stand on an issue.

Using technology to address the systemic problem of bullying, Leo Burnett created a tool to make adolescents aware of the weight which their words carry. Created in collaboration with Headspace, an Australian youth mental health foundation, Reword aims to tackle the problem in the digital sphere where so much of today’s bullying occurs. As they type messages on social media, the tool visually identifies insulting or harsh language in real time based on algorithms. Introducing the tool to young Internet users proactively instills socially responsible behaviour before bad habits form naturally.

Agency: Leo Burnett Australia  / Client: Headspace


As part of its 2016 year-end efforts, Spotify decided to make a statement without taking a side. Following a year of social and political ups and downs, their copywriters showed the company’s human side by offering words of compassion.

By: Spotify  / Campaign: “Thanks 2016, it’s been weird”


Access all channels

It’s no secret that as consumers, we are bombarded with endless amounts of information and advertising which are jockeying for even just a few seconds of our attention. In order to cut through the constant noise, marketers are having to get even more creative with how they deliver messages. Thinking outside the box sometimes means rejecting traditional media channels or better yet, redefining them.

The infamous Burger King television campaign which pirated consumers’ Google Home speakers using voice command was a game changer — the latest example of marketers truly entering consumers’ living rooms, as the New York Times stated. Going beyond the standard use of radio or television really enabled the brand to go viral. All it took was some rebellious thinking and a 15-second commercial asking “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” Have a look!

By: Burger King


Adam & Eve DDB creative director Ben Priest in his talk presented Front Row, a collaborative effort between Manchester United and Google. Diehard Manchester United supporters from around the globe who might never have the chance to see their favorite team play in person were given the opportunity to watch a match from the best seats in the stadium: Using Google+ Hangouts, the fans’ webcam feeds were broadcast onto the digital advertising hoardings surrounding the field which had never been done before. Replacing sponsors’ logos with ecstatic far-off supporters created a sense of unity with those actually at the match in an innovative way which perfectly combined technology and human emotion.

Agency: Adam & Eve DDB  / Client: Manchester United & Google


Note: These trends were inspired by D&AD’s Creative Excellence Themes and Opportunities report which is free to download for all D&AD members.