D&AD announces 2023 New Blood pencil winners

Bookmarks designed to aid neurodiverse readers and an initiative advocating for the reproductive health of women in Ghana were among the seven White-Pencil-winning projects.

D&AD has revealed the winners of its 2023 New Blood Awards, with a type-led campaign and a digital experience project claiming the highest prize of a Black pencil.

The New Blood Awards are open to students, recent graduates and emerging creatives worldwide. Entrants are given briefs set by well-established companies and their projects are judged by experts from the creative industries.

Briefs were set by brands including Google, eBay, Candy Crush Saga, Gymshark and Sky. This year, the 17 briefs focused on different commercial challenges and social issues, such as innovating banking in the name of neurodivergence and raising awareness of abortion as healthcare.

Entries are submitted across a range of disciplines, including UX/UI, animation, advertising, typography and PR.

The 2023 competition saw 179 Pencils awarded – two Black, seven White, 33 Yellow, 39 Graphite, and 98 Wood. Black Pencils are the highest prize and are awarded sparingly. White pencils are awarded to designers who successfully use the power of creativity for good. Yellow Pencils are awarded to projects that are considered to display creative excellence.

Black Pencils

Responding to a brief set by Google Fonts and HMCT (the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography) that challenged them to “lead the way through type-led activism”, young Vietnamese designers Linh Nguyễn Khắc Hải and Quỳnh Nguyễn Ngọc Nhã created the Black-Pencil-winning Put a helmet on like ô campaign. It looks to address the sad reality that 2000 Vietnamese children die every year due to road accidents, half of which would have been saved with helmet use.

In Vietnam, children start to learn the alphabet at age six which, incidentally, is also the mandatory age for wearing a helmet in the country. In the Vietnamese alphabet, the letters o and ô often cause confusion, according to the Khắc Hải and Ngọc Nhã, so the campaign urges children to visualise the circumflex symbol as a helmet to help them remember and keep them safe. The project also won a White and Yellow Pencil.

Norwich University of the Arts’ Sophie Ross was awarded a Black Pencil for her response to Sky’s brief, which asked entrants to “transport entertainment to new digital experiences”. Ross designed Sky React to allow TV-watchers to express their emotions and opinions about a TV show in real-time, with quick reactions and comments tied to the show’s timeline.

It aims to bring the live TV experience to any pre-recorded content and help to foster a sense of community rather than having opinions expressed sporadically across different social media platforms. The reactions will also serve to inform the categorising of shows from viewers’ emotional perspectives.

White Pencils

German creatives Yash Bhut and Alyona Golikova took home a White Pencil for their project Adinkra Braids, an initiative that seeks to highlight the stigma and cultural barriers to discussing reproductive health that women in Ghana face. It aims to promote safe abortion and position it as healthcare while encouraging women to advocate for their rights, health and wellbeing as well as being proud of their culture.

Adinkra symbols and braids are also part of other cultures across Western Africa, so Bhut and Golikova envision that the initiative could expand beyond Ghana.

Two other projects also won White Pencils for their efforts in raising awareness of abortion as healthcare. A team of three creatives from Danish School of Media and Journalism responded to the US state of Georgia’s enaction of a six-week abortion ban with type-led campaign The Red O, using an exclusive version of Google’s Lato font where the ‘o’ is consistently the size of a foetus in the sixth week of a pregnancy, measuring 6mm. Recognising the fact that the word abortion is often perceived negatively, three designers from Ravensbourne University devised a campaign which replaces the word with “Simply Healthcare”.

Penguin Bookmarks by Arts University Bournemouth’s Marion Morrison and Jack Davey won a White Pencil for its response to a neurodiversity brief. According to Morrison and Davey, one in eight of Gen Z are neurodiverse while one in ten are dyslexic, so they wanted to look at how they could make reading more inclusive.

Their solution is contemporary reading aids that are inconspicuous enough to fit in the pages of a book. The bookmarks offer red, pink, blue, green and yellow overlay – often used by people with dyslexia – and versions designed to help the reader focus or magnify words on the page.

Another White-Pencil-winning project focused on neurodiversity was Money Blocks, responding to a brief set by Barclays. Nottingham Trent University’s Lewis Wilks designed a money management app with an intuitive drag and drop system, interactive animation, engaging notifications and more to aid neurodivergent youth in achieving financial independence.

The seventh White Pencil went to Enmanuel Alberto Gay Lopez and Lucero Arami Torres Maldonado for creating a new edition of video game Just Dance aimed at new mothers to help combat postnatal depression.

Yellow Pencil

Responding to a brief set by Heineken and Design Bridge and Partners, Norwich University of the Arts’ Isabella Atkinson and Emma Smith designed a Yellow-Pencil-winning campaign centred around a “beer garden revolution”. It encourages communities to build their own beer gardens and bring green space back into cities.

FIT Advertising and Digital Design students won a Yellow Pencil for their design of the BankMate platform for Barclays, which enables neurodivergent people to invite others close to them to help manage their daily budgets and offer support. Pairs can track each other’s progress and help each other save money.

A creative team of four from Sydney’s University of Technology won a Yellow Pencil for their response to Penguin’s brief that considers a new age of reading and sharing literature triggered by TikTok. Their project Flip reimagines the way in which people swap and share books, providing an easy-to-use app aimed at the Gen Z reading community.

See the full list of award winners on the D&AD website.

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