An award tells you more about the judges than the contestants
D&AD have just had their annual awards bash where they hand out their coveted yellow pencils in recognition of outstanding creative work.
It's not just the big agencies who get their chance to shine, students have their opportunity too. And this year, one of the categories included an open brief for Oxfam.
Teams were asked to "present an idea that engages support for Oxfam by triggering shared values and concerns in a wide range of people."
The winner was from the Miami Ad School (in Madrid) with their entry, It's a better life without Oxfam.
As you'll see, their approach was an online platform where users can find details of Oxfam staff and where they work.
Each staff member shares their dream of what they would like to do if they didn't work for Oxfam and…well, watch the video and you'll find out.
I don't want to criticise the students as they are probably a really nice bunch of people who know more about what is likely to win a yellow pencil than I do.
And that's my point.
As a charity concept it fails at pretty much every level. There is a sniff of an idea in there, but it is smothered by a complete disregard and rejection of why people actually choose to support good causes.
But it won the award.
And on that basis, the team behind it has been successful. They understood what their audience – D&AD judges – wanted and they delivered. Congratulations to them.
But it also explains something else. It shows us why ad agencies are so terrible at producing advertisements for charities. They simply don't get it.
Our story-telling techniques, the way we demonstrate need, the way we use music, endorsements and financial justifications seem to "bore the shit" out of them. So much so, that they reward an entry that directly criticises what we know actually works.
I can understand why. They must be very frustrated.
Agency after agency has tried to break the 'charity ad' mould only to see their ideas fail. All the while, low budget productions are continuing to attract new donors and actually raise the money that charities use to carry out their life-saving and life-changing work.
So, if you want to win an award, any of the agencies where the D&AD judges work might be a great place to start.
But if you were looking for a fresh face in advertising who might actually help you recruit and engage donors, can I suggest you go to the bottom of the D&AD list and take a look at what Amy Weston from Sheffield College has produced. She created a rather neat little idea called Give. Grow. Gain. that really does demonstrate an understanding of why people give.
If you read this Amy, get in touch and come and have a chat. You look like you know what you're doing.