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Only wise designers and bold clients can survive our seismic cultural changes, says D&AD report

Diesel-make-love-not-walls-david-lachapelle2

D&AD has released its annual Creative Excellence report, outlining three core trends from the creative industry and standout projects that succeeded, and failed, to react to its changing tides in the last 12 months. “The industry is being forced to respond to change,” says D&AD’s director Paul Drake of the report’s findings. “The majority of agencies will see these developments as threats… the wise ones will see opportunities instead.

“The shifting landscape is also polarising clients. Most are continuing to only talk about themselves and their product. But bolder clients are seizing the opportunity to be more socially engaged, to have a relevant voice in the world and to lead people to a brighter future. That approach is earning them a higher share of attention and building a stronger bond with their audience.”

One of the three trends is titled Redefining Humanity and explores how technology is affecting society and culture. It cites ComScore predictions that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be done by voice and that investment in AI grew 746% between 2011 and 2015. The report also says that the use of ad-blockers surged by 30% in 2016, commenting that, in response, “the classic one-size-fits-all approach to advertising is long gone.”

Under this trend, D&AD also says that “demographic disruption” has seen brands and advertising challenge conventions in the representation of gender, age, race and disability. It references brands such as Nike, which was the first large sports brand to offer a sportswear hijab; Getty, which no longer accepts retouched images of models; and Toca Boca, one of a number of brands to now offer gender-neutral products. It also highlights Dot, the affordable braille smartwatch by Serviceplan Korea, as a great example of democratising design, and Leo Burnett Chicago’s Procter & Gamble #LikeAGirl campaign that introduced a suite of female emojis.

The second trend, Fractured Society, looks at big political topics such as Brexit and Trump and how our increasingly divisive society is affecting creative output, as well as its public reaction. The report highlights how brands’ insensitivity to topics such as racial and gender equality, and their attempts to appropriate protest, have backfired. As examples, it highlights Dove’s social media campaign that appeared to show a black woman changing into a white woman; Pepsi’s infamous Kendall Jenner protest ad; and the makers of the Fearless Girl statue_, State Street Global Advisors. Despite winning awards for the statue and its impact, the company was later sued for $5m over its in-house gender pay gap.

Positive examples in this trend included Anomaly’s Diesel campaign Make Love Not Walls, which employed David LaChapelle to take on Trump’s wall; and Vrse.Works Displaced VR project with The New York Times, which allowed viewers to follow the lives of three of the world’s 30 million child refugees.

The last of the three trends is titled Access All Areas and examines how infinitely accessible digital information has changed the industry. The report says that 94% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand when it commits to being fully transparent. It also states that 53% of visits to mobile sites are abandoned if they take longer than three seconds to load.

In terms of how the way people now take in information and advertising, D&AD selected a number of projects that have innovated to change with the times. One example was AMVBBDO’s Guinness campaign film Never Alone, about a prominent Welsh rugby player coming out as gay. It was shown on TV as a brand film, which in turn was a trailer for a longer documentary on YouTube. Another was J. Walter Thompson Brasil’s campaign for Atados, which created a site whereby people could donate the unused black-bar areas of their vertical videos online to NGOs, as free media space.

The full D&AD Creative Excellence report is available to read here.

Final Regulars / Miscellaneous It's Nice That's Easter Break

We’ve got four days off! It’s the Easter Bank Holiday so we’ll be out of the studio, having a bit of rest and probably sheltering from the rain rather than walking around in the spring sunshine we’d hoped for. Even though we won’t be around to update you over the next few days, to keep you entertained we’ve chosen not only the most read articles from 2018 so far, but some of our personal favourites. From discipline-spanning long-reads to the finest graphic design, photography, illustration and animation, the team have hand-picked the articles we’re still thinking about months later for you to enjoy again.

Ado-water-futures-research-program-miscellaneous-itsnicethat-list Sponsored / Miscellaneous A/D/O's Water Futures Design Challenge asks creatives to solve our global water crisis

Humankind’s relationship to drinking water has developed into what can only be described as a toxic one. This is particularly true in our cities where tensions surrounding water have resulted in many calling for a ban on single-use, disposable plastic bottles. In what is the beginning of a year-long programme, A/D/O has launched the Water Futures Design Challenge. An incentivised contest, it “challenges designers and creators to conceptualise and imagine innovative new ways to solve this global crisis.”

Jsr-emanuele-colombo-illustrator-its-nice-that-2 Sponsored / Miscellaneous From playful animated characters to powerful portraiture, we introduce three talents at JSR

London-based creative management agency JSR represents artists in the fields of photography, illustration, CGI and moving image. Launched in 2005 by Jamie Stephen the agency now represents more than 40 artists, comprising a mix of established and emerging talent. It’s Nice That has selected three of the represented creatives for you to check out.

Alimobasser-stampsofarevoultion1985-miscellaneous-itsnicethat-list Work / Miscellaneous Stamps of a Revolution: Ali Mobasser's Iranian stamp collection and incredible family story

When artist Ali Mobasser was a child he began collecting stamps. The act of building a collection of ephemera, carefully placing postal gems into a book, is a common hobby for children across the world. But for Ali, his Iranian stamp collection “acted as a security blanket during a turbulent period in my childhood when I was sent away by mother in Southern California to live with my father in London,” the artist begins to tell It’s Nice That.

Scenario-publication-itsnicethat-13list Work / Publication “Scenario is the magazine about trends, visions and possible futures”: founder Morten Grønborg

The release of films like Black Panther, The Titan and Isle of Dogs demonstrates that 2018 is a year fascinated by the future: What will the world look like? Who will be in power? These questions are no news to the Danish magazine Scenario, however, which has been mapping out future visions over the past seven years. The journal, which is published by the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, was founded by Morten Grønborg, who worked closely with astrophysicist Klaus Æ Mogensen and designer Sigrun Gudbrandsdottir, to create an objective and informative publication. “Scenario is the magazine about ideas, trends, visions, and possible futures,” Morten tells It’s Nice That.

Lezlie-zhang-photography-itsnicethat-list-alt Work / Photography Leslie Zhang's sentimental series Little Flexes is a "beautiful glimpse of China"

“It’s all about portraying and celebrating the little romances in our daily life,” Shanghai-based photographer Leslie Zhang tells us of his approach to image-making. “At first I tried painting as a form of expression. I found photography was a much more direct approach.”

We-sow-publication-itsnicethat-list-alt Work / Publication We Sow is the alternative publication of gleaned texts born from Paris' Nuit Debout protests

In March of 2016, Paul Faure, Léa Beaubois and Marion Cachon were taking part in the social movement, Nuit Debout. This wave of protests which translates to ‘Up All Night’ broke out as a response to the French government’s proposed law reforms known as El Khomri Law or Loi travail. The movement began at Paris’ Place de la République, where protestors held nightly assemblies.

Willscarborough-hurtence-photography-itsnicethat-2list Work / Photography Will Scarborough's thoughtful and theatrical portraits celebrate a series of hand-stitched hats

Will Scarborough is a recent Central Saint Martin’s Fashion Communication and Promotion graduate with a keen eye for photography. In his latest work Hurtence, Will captures a series of thoughtful and theatrical portraits inspired by the bespoke, hand-stitched hats by a label of the same name. Will’s images are honest and carefully executed as he manages to distil his sitters’ distinct personalities into every shot.

Yukiko Regulars / Friday Mixtape Friday Mixtape: Studio Yukiko's mix to listen to in the kitchen at parties

This week’s Friday Mixtape is by Berlin-based Studio Yukiko. Regular It’s Nice That readers will know we’re big fans of Michelle and Johannes’ work, whether we’re writing about magazines they’ve designed, Nike campaigns they’ve had a hand in commissioning or of course the fact that they’re part of our Ones to Watch 2018.

Folch-publication-list Work / Publication A closer look at the second issue of Cristina Ramos' Dream magazine

It is no secret that Barcelona-based agency Folch studio make an excellent publication, whether it’s fashion magazine Metal, the goosebumpingly erotic pages of Odiseo or the CdC Spanish Annual. Its latest triumph comes in the form of Dream, a biannual publication and digital platform dedicated to objects and the relationship they have with their owners.

Jeremypettis-illustration-itsnicethat-1 Work / Illustration Illustrator Jeremy Pettis on his curious happy-go-lucky characters

Jeremy Pettis’ illustrations are full of life; figures with strawberries for heads tan in the sun while sunglasses-wearing men animatedly play the flute. Working on Nike’s print and pattern team by day and illustrating cheery oddball characters by night, Jeremy leads a creative double life. The majority of the illustrator’s work is done with felt-tip pens, however recently Jeremy has started to dabble with iPad doodling, which we can safely say looks promising. “The majority of my drawings are subconscious elaborations on intriguing ideas and feelings that I take note of in my day-to-day thoughts,” Jeremy tells It’s Nice That.

Philipp-gallon-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Over several years, Philipp Gallon charts the social changes in the US through random encounters

The USA is a vast country, diverse in both its landscape and its people. Since the election of President Donald Trump in November 2016, the country’s politics have been thrust onto a world stage more than ever before and the social and political changes taking place are evident, even from afar. An Anthology of Common Conversation is a long-term project by German photographer, Philipp Gallon, that explores these changes, from a European perspective through years of work.

Chrissieabbott-animation-itsnicethat-list Work / Animation Designer Chrissie Abbott's Aftershock lyric video draws inspiration from 80s film credits

Designer, art director and artist Chrissie Abbott’s wide-ranging portfolio is a dream come true for any Saved by the Bell fan. Inspired by the visual overload of the 80s and 90s, Chrissie’s work oozes electric colours and bold visuals. Born in London but living in Germany, Chrissie has worked across creative genres from animation to zines and has collaborated with huge names like Adidas, Dazed, AnOther Magazine, The New York Times and Wallpaper*.

Nouvelle-noire-graphic-design-itsnicethat-list-alt Work / Graphic Design Rektorat: a type family adapted from letterings discovered during a renovation

In 2001, during a renovation at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich, a set of original letterings were discovered hidden behind some wallpaper. The characters were individually painted and had been manufactured by hand in 1933 to be used as signage for the modernist building.

Hat_beardpress-georgerodriguez-publication-itsnicethat-03 Work / Publication Brian Roettinger designs the first retrospective of photographer George Rodriguez

Photographer George Rodriguez has led a double life behind the lens. Cited as one of the “great visual documentarians of Los Angeles and of the cultural complexities of Mexican-American life,” George’s photographs span student protests and high profile celebrity shots. Every subject matter is as necessary as the other in George’s work, a photographic stance celebrated in the first ever career retrospective of his work, Double Vision: The Photography of George Rodriguez, designed by Brian Roettinger and published by Los Angeles-based Hat & Beard Press.

Parallelpractice-pramen-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Three new fab projects from the brilliant Parallel Practice

To put it simply, Prague-based design studio Parallel Practice is just really, really great. Every year, like clockwork, we check in with the studio’s Michal Landa and Jan Brož to see what they’re up to, and each time their website plays host to a bunch of projects somehow better than the already impressive ones that came before.

Dima-komarov-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Photographer Dima Komarov captures a sense of freedom in Russian youth culture

“I want my models to be very natural in my pictures. I want them to not be afraid of themselves.” Dima Komarov tells It’s Nice That. The St Petersburg-based young photographer has gained a cult following on his Instagram account for his inclusive, at times subversive, images of the youth in his hometown. His images (still taken on a Canon 600d which his mum bought him) are drenched in a sense of freedom, of being on the edge of something new and exciting – to put it simply, they capture what it is to be young, free and open to the possibility of anything.

Cartography-publication-itsnicethat-18list Work / Publication Cartography travel magazine offers an alternative perspective to other publications of its genre

It may feel as though the magazine industry is brimming with travel journals; Suitcase, Cereal, Condé Nast Traveler. Yet no publication looks at travel as pragmatically and elegantly as English-Italian Cartography journal. Founded in 2016 by Paola Corini and Luca De Santis, each of the biannual magazine’s issues hone in on three trips to different parts of the world; the first lasts two weeks; the second eight days; the third is a quick five-day getaway. Made up mainly of expert documentary photography, the team curates the images alongside day-by-day itineraries and longer explorative essays. Their fourth issue took the team to Japan, South Dakota and Venice and includes long-form articles about Japanese fisherwomen who dive underwater by holding their breath for a living and Venice’s eerie unfamiliarity.

Marek-nedelka-publication-itsnicethat-list-alt Work / Publication Collaborative book What We Discovered imagines fictional worlds, their signage systems and artefacts

“In the last few months, I have been curious about linguistics and semiotics,” explains Prague-based designer Marek Nedelka. “I have been searching for the answers to questions about how languages and scripts shape our world.” Last time we spoke to Marek, it was his exhibition identities (made in conjunction with Ondřej Báchor) that took centre stage. This time, however, it was his diploma thesis What We Discovered: Language, Codes & Sign Systems that caught our eye.

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