By Mark Davison
12 lessons I definitely didn’t follow during D&AD New Blood
At the time of writing, Orla and I are on the final stretch to finishing our D&AD entry. As Brits are so great at understatements I’ll use one here, it’s been a tricky few weeks. So I thought that now, while the struggle’s still fresh in my mind, would be an appropriate time to reflect. So guess what lucky reader, that’s right, you’re getting a listicle.
Here are my (insert arbitrary number here) learnings from my D&AD experience. I hope this SCAB can be a guide to next years intake, if and when they come to do D&AD.
Sorry I don’t have accompanying GIFs, ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Hit the ground running. D&AD may well be the longest you have spend on a brief so it will seem like you have ages. You don’t. Set yourself mini deadlines and hit them. If you get knocked back, set more deadlines. Don’t leave the rush till the end (unlike us).
- Ask the right questions to the right mentors. You are going to get a lot of opinions in D&AD. Some can send you up the ladder, but other will have you sliding down snakes back to where you started. Know your mentors and know who you want what from.
- Follow your ideas through. Everyone imagines having a great idea is like a gift from on high, it just arrives fully formed. But often this isn’t the case and it takes time and effort to work what may not feel like a great idea, into something amazing.
- But kill them early and often as well. If you aren’t having any luck, don’t be afraid to take a new route. You never know, it might make your current idea better.
- SCAMP SCAMP SCAMP – thank me later. As a year we didn’t scamp on our ideas earlier enough. That made it harder to communicate them to mentors and really find the best executions.
- Be honest with mentors, your peers, your partner and yourself. If you don’t like something, say it. You don’t want to put hours of work into an idea you don’t believe in.
- Find a partner you can have an argument with. Because it will stress you out, and you will get angry. So if you can’t have an argument with someone, take some time away from each other, then get back to work, one of you will end up dead, or worse, expelled.
- Plan your video, with the pictures. Do story boards not just voice overs. As Rob told us, scripts have visuals as well as sound.
- Aim to hand in way before the deadline, your work is not going to get better if you are stressed.
- That being said, sometimes you know that won’t be possible. Don’t be afraid to kill an idea that isn’t working in favour of one that is, just because it messes up your timing plan. But beware, this will have consequences of lost sleep.
- Craft takes time. Lots of time. So leave some time to craft, or you entry will look like it was made by a six year old with crayons.
- People will try to change your idea right up to the deadline. Politely tell them while they may be right, unless they know how to stop time they aren’t helping.
I hope that someone next year find this useful. As I said at the start D&AD has been tricky. I failed to follow any of these rules and made my life much harder because of it, and I don’t think I’m the only one. So please, learn from our f*** ups.