A new look for D&AD’s cheeky New Blood event

Published:  July 10, 2014
Lucy Waddington

The identity and connected campaign for this years D&AD (Design and Art Direction) New Blood event – an awards competition challenging young designers to tackle briefs from global brands – boasted interactive works inspired by infographics, including a spinning wheel of muses, expansive flow charts and enormous banners. Being the first year to collate an annual Graduate Academy, Student Awards and New Blood Exhibition, the identity was employed across newsletters, banner ads, posters and the New Blood website.

The featured flowchart outlines a series of pathways that bring the viewer to understand what the program is and why creatives should participate. Held at London’s Spitalfield’s Market last week, larger-than-life appliques appeared on the walls alongside acrostics and wayfinding with categories that were introduced by a series of idents featuring theme tunes from popular game shows.

Conducted by The Office, Creative Director Craig Oldham explains that the rebrand was initiated to refine the structure of New Blood – affirming the opportunity for black and white pencils to be won by students (D&AD’s pencils are a highly acclaimed and widely recognised award), and a scheme that was open to recent graduates or those aged under 25 in the industry. He continues to say, “There was a hell of a lot to clarify. It was obvious we needed a really simple and versatile aesthetic, something to facilitate rather than just one lead idea permutated out. Otherwise, it was in danger of communicating everything and nothing at the same time.

Once we’d got the main content plotted out, we realised just how massive the whole thing was, which was when we started to get excited about it – I think at the back of our minds we wanted to create the world’s biggest flowchart. The whole point of a flow diagram is that you can use it to illustrate anything. You can diverge, and branch off. There are no limits to what you can do with it, which is as much of a curse as it is blessing,” he adds.

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Creative Co-director, John Goddard, contributed humorous segments of copywriting so as to add a joking and informal tone throughout. Oldham explains that this was essential to make the overall event feel accessible, fun and engaging, rather than exclusive or purely competitive. “We had to reconnect with students, graduates, and young creatives again, as we felt that everything was becoming a bit too slick, corporate and, well, professional,” so by instead “creating a relaxed, honest and empathetic tone of voice we wanted to encourage rather than alienate – make it about enjoying the process of having a go, rather than winning being the all or nothing.”

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A clean and reduced palette of yellow against black and white, separated and conjoined by lines and framed boxes synonymous with graphs and charts, Oldham explains that it left “pretty much no alternative rather than to read what we were saying”.  A favourite at the event, the spinning ‘Wheel of Muses’ – with options like ‘phone a friend’ and ‘just Google it’ – was an immensely engaging crowd pleaser, “before we’d even installed it, passers-by were hurdling barriers and security guards to give it a spin. They broke it before the opening. Twice. Then on private view, D&AD apparently received interest from a few agencies who wanted to buy it, and it was broken furthermore.” Many visitors were also tempted to steal or barter for one of the huge yellow banners with phrases of encouragement like ‘Yowser!’ and ‘Whooo!’

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With the intention of politely mocking data visualisation, Oldham explains that “the rise of infographics… is as much to do with Powerpoint presentations, rolling-news and chartered accountancy: that corporate instinct to quantify, deconstruct and ultimately own things. For us, it was fun to subvert that, and put it into a world where it didn’t belong. Many people are obsessed with trying to classify and explain creativity – but you can’t.”



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