From The CEO: What is the White Pencil?

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For many, the White Pencil is iconic - the ultimate accolade for creative work that makes a real difference in the industry. It’s hard to believe it was only introduced as a permanent fixture in the D&AD Pencil family in 2013. With the launch of D&AD Impact, a new award scheme set up by D&AD and Advertising Week, we take a look back over the years and see just how far the White Pencil has come, as well as looking forward to see what this bright new future may hold. 

We still quite often get asked the question; ‘what is D&AD White Pencil and what’s it for? So, let's start at the beginning. Thanks to our CEO Tim Lindsay, here's our D&AD White Pencil explained. From inspiration and award winning examples, to why it's imperative that the creative community recognises sustainable and ethical advertising and design, prepare to be enlightened. 

D&AD Professional Awards - What is a White Pencil?

The idea came to a group of people that included past Presidents Simon 'Sanky' Sankarayya, Rosie Arnold and current President Andy Sandoz. It was originally intended to mark our 50th anniversary by putting D&AD’s global creative community to work in the service of a cause – the indefatigable Jeremy Gilley’s ‘Peace One Day’. Jeremy got some fantastic, real world work to help raise awareness of the cause; and the initial D&AD White Pencil was won by a brilliant campaign from Leo Burnet Chicago called ‘Recipeace’. It was judged a success. So we decided to change things.

D&AD Professional Awards - What is a White Pencil?

D&AD exists to stimulate and promote creative excellence, to support creative education and to encourage diversity in the global advertising and design industries. To do this we run the world’s most prestigious awards show, put on events, train and develop creative people, recruit members to the community and, crucially, support the D&AD New Blood programme that helps young creatives during their education and transition into the professional industry. Our aim is to make D&AD New Blood more widely available internationally – something we are working on hard this year.

Back to the D&AD White Pencil. It dawned on us that part of our responsibility as an organisation set up to support and encourage excellence was to help agencies, studios and individuals understand and get involved in more sustainable ways of doing business; to encourage a movement that ends up with corporate social responsibility as the cornerstone of ALL corporate growth plans and ethical business behavior the norm, not the exception.

Ahead of the curve as they so often are, Unilever liked this and generously sponsor the D&AD White Pencil. So in 2013 we made the D&AD White Pencil a category in its own right, attracting some fantastic entries.  Droga5’s ‘Help’ adhesive bandages campaign for bone marrow donorship won the second D&AD White Pencil.

D&AD Professional Awards - What is a White Pencil?

Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman speaks eloquently and passionately about the responsibility of business to change the world for the better, to behave ethically, to grow but with a smaller and smaller footprint, to treat consumers, suppliers and the planet with respect. Other enlightened businesses – and there are more every day – are saying the same. And the volume is increasing.

But these companies haven’t turned into philanthropists over night. They have boards and the boards represent shareholders who are looking for a return on their investment. These companies are doing this because, in an age when they can be held to account by internet-empowered consumer groups, the right way to prosper is to do the right thing.

Lord Leverhulme, builder of Port Sunlight and upholder of workers’ rights, speaking at the end of the 19th century, summed it up – "We do well by doing good".

Because an issue of this importance deserves and requires it’s own time, place, name and focus, D&AD and Advertising Week have created a new award scheme, launching in April 2016. D&AD Impact is the obvious next step in the steady evolution of the D&AD White Pencil, and in many respects represents a continuation and an expansion of the D&AD White Pencil project. Impact celebrates the power of creativity to stimulate positive change, in a world that desperately needs all creative people to turn their attention to ‘doing well by doing good’.

Entering D&AD Impact

Submissions for D&AD Impact can be entered into one of twelve categories: Communication & Interaction, Community, Diversity & Equality, Education, Environmental Sustainability, Financial Empowerment, Humanitarian Aid, Health & Wellness, Industry Evolution, Government Engagement, Responsible Production & Consumption and Urban Living.

D&AD Impact seeks to identify and celebrate great, transformative ideas that contribute towards a better, fairer and more sustainable future for all. If you think you have a campaign that makes a real and positive difference to the world then why not enter it into D&AD Impact.



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