Where Old Meets New and New Met Newer

The &You team were delighted to join the 2,000K+ exhibitor works at the D&AD Festival from the 21st to 23rd May. And what an exciting experience! Wall to wall interactive installations, galleries of design work and winners, 8 stages hosting masterclasses, agencies sharing projects, debate panels and on the last day the D&AD Awards ceremony.

My personal favourites were the talks on Artificial Intelligence. I attended a talk on how AI has been successfully utilised in an ad campaign for Lexus and then a debate on how humans interpret and react to using AI as a marketing tool. I got to get my geek on! There was also an augmented reality board where designers could add their doodles and see them come to life and a few virtual reality headsets dotted around the exhibitions. Tech and art forming a bond, just as it should be.

But where did we fit in? In literal terms we were stationed between an ad agency and an animation design company. Nestling between camera flashing and rolling sketch artwork, we created a little home from home. We showcased the value of direct mail and spread the word to embrace data as a friend not foe. We even had a post-box people could drop their business cards into! But finding where we fit, in relation to the event as a whole, was at times a challenge.

Many of the attendees who came over our threshold were fascinated, asking how do we turn data into full-colour communications and what being smart about data can do for a campaign or business. Others were drawn in by some of our DM examples and curious to hear our stories. There were, however, some impressions of who we are and what we do that were somewhat disconnected.

The perception of some was linked to a lack of understanding around how data can effectively drive creativity and support fantastic design. We were in a less familiar world where the way we represent ourselves was taken very literally. ‘Transforming data into full-colour communications’ was interpreted as ‘data visualisation design company’.

Our tac was to ask questions on what attendees (mainly creatives and design students) wanted to get out of the D&AD festival, what they knew about their audience; whether it was from a perspective or purely how they approach a piece of work. We established an appreciation for each other’s issues and possible solutions, but design was always the driving force. So, I reached for a common interest/experience to then introduce wider thinking based on facts and insights while trying to navigate through the culture. Took a lot of energy, let me tell you!

Having spent all 3 days at the festival, talking to brands, agencies, freelancers and students, the experience gave me the affirmation that we still need to bridge the gap between an artist and an analyst, to understand the full potential of uniting data with creative. If we are to continue communicating to our clients and customers that unifying strategy, data and creative is integral to a successful campaign or marketing plan, we’ve got to continue to set the example of smart, informed working. That then drives exciting creative, resonating with consumers and delivers the best ROI.