Sankarayya’s challenge is to broaden the appeal of D&AD and reach out

With D&AD poised to inaugurate its new president, All of Us co-founder Simon ’Sanky’ Sankarayya, on Tuesday and to sign up to central London premises, it is clearly back from the brink it was teetering on a couple of years ago.

Sterling work by the in-house team led by finance director Dara Lynch and then chairman Anthony Simonds-Gooding kept the organisation afloat through those dark days before Tim O’Kennedy was appointed chief executive and order was restored. Their efforts were buoyed up by unstinting input from successive presidents Tony Davidson, Simon Waterfall, Garrick Hamm and Paul Brazier, proving that the D&AD presidency, though unpaid, is much more than a sinecure.

Sankarayya faces a different task when he takes the helm next week. The challenge is no longer about survival, but in broadening the appeal of an organisation that could unite advertising and design at a time of greater convergence across platforms, but which is often viewed, particularly in design, as elitist. He has though the backing of a strong management team in O’Kennedy, Lynch and new chairman Dick Powell and the camaraderie of past presidents.

Sankarayya’s approach promises to be an intelligent bid to reach out beyond the usual suspects. He plans to engage with D&AD’s potential audience, opening out the awards event, perhaps, beyond a formal dinner and making the D&AD Annual, the design of which is in the president’s gift, more accessible – a digital version, perhaps? He wants to give practical help to students facing a virtually non-existent job market and involve them in the workings of D&AD.

Above all, Sankarayya sees himself – and the digital community he comes from – as providing the ’glue’ between advertising and design, reconciling the factions. It is something others have talked about, but it has yet to be achieved. We wish him well with the task.

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