D&AD Awards 2014: ad industry awards focus on projects for the good of humanity

This year's seven Black pencils include three awards for projects that make the world a better place, plus Jean-Claude Van Damme's epic splits.

Last night saw this year's D&AD Awards handed out to the great and good of the advertising industries – and there was a definite emphasis on the good. Of the seven top prize Black Pencils, three were awarded to projects focussed on the public good – though commercial advertising for the likes of Honda and Volvo was also acknowledged.

52 Yellow Pencils were also awarded in categories from product design to animation and typography.

Two of the projects that picked up Black Pencils were entered for White Pencils, a relatively new award for digital and phyiscal projects that have a direct effect helping the world – rather than marketing-led approaches such as raising awareness or funds or putting pressure on governments or organisations.


The best known of these is Sweetie (above and right), which was created by Dutch ad agency Lemz for children's charity Terre des Hommes. Sweetie is a very realstic full CG character of a 10-year-old Filipina girl, who would appear as if on a webcam in online chatrooms and could be contacted by men from around the world.

As this BBC report details, over 1,000 men offered her money to perform acts, including 110 from the UK. The charity passed on the details of the men to police in their respective countries, and Lemz says that there has since been arrests made in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Ireland and South Africa.

Use the slideshow controls above and right to see more of the winning work in detail

Gravity Light

The other Black Pencil winner entered for a White Pencil – Therefore's Gravity Light – is literally a light powered by gravity. Aimed at villages in Africa and India which have limited or no electricity, the light has a weight attached to it that users lift and let descend, which gives them 30 minutes of light.

The project was funded on Indiegogo, raising almost $400,000 (around £235,000) against a target of $55,000 (£32,500). Its creators are working on a more efficent, tailored version 2.

Over 1,000 Gravity Lights will be created and distributed for free.

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The Most Powerful Arm

Awarded a Black Pencil for Technological Innovation, The Most Powerful Arm was a campaign that asked the Austrailian government to match funds raised by the Save Our Sons charity for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a degenerative condition that affects children, most of whom don't live beyond their late teens.

For the campaign, Finch created a robot arm that would write in the handwriting of 19-year-old Jacob Lancaster, who has lost the ability to write due to DMD. The arm signed a paper petition in Jacob's handwriting, based on signatures received through a Facebook app.

Over 3,200 signatures were received.

CSPD Annual Report

WAX Partnership's Annual Report for the Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities also aims to be a fund- and awareness-raising exercise for the Canadian charity.

The design of the report is based around the concept that "being handicapped is hard". The report is hard to read and features stark photography and honest language.

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WAX Partnership's CSPD Annual Report.

Edenspiekermann's Improving Safety and Comfort on Train Platforms project for the Dutch equivalent of Network Rail, ProRail, used design to improve the information given to passengers at rail stations in the Netherlands.

The aim was to allow trains to stop for shorter periods and improve the user experience for passengers, making it easier for them to board, find empty seats and the correct carriages when travelling with a bike, for example.

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Not everything awarded was for the common good, the wonderfully ridiculous received gongs too.

Awarded in the Branded Online Films category, Forsman & Bodenfors' The Epic Split for Volvo Trucks saw aging action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme do the splits between two moving juggerauts.

The viral campaign was designed to reach a wide audience, as the brand believes those buying trucks are influenced by colleagues, friends and family.

Sound of Honda - Ayrton Senna 1989

For this project, Dentsu Tokyo recreated Ayrton Senna's qualifying lap in the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix, then used the telemetry data from the F1 car to create a light- and sound-based installation on the Suzuka Circuit.

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Sound of Honda - Ayrton Senna 1989 was the most highly awarded campaign overall, receiving one Black Pencil, two Yellow Pencils, one Nomination and four In Book Awards – and its creator Dentsu won the prize for the Most Awarded Digital Agency.