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D&AD - Project P - (2016) 3:10 (UK)

It's a fundamental truth that we only remember the value of something once it's been taken from us. No one is happier not to have toothache the day after it goes away. But a month later? We've moved on.

As humans, as well as advertising professionals, it's important to sometimes take a moment to reflect and remember what we've accomplished - the things that have value and meaning to us. It's that thinking that led D&AD in collaboration with Lucky Generals to launch Project P, a hoax to get creatives across the world remembering how much their pencils meant to them. Because of course, while it's sitting on your desk or your book shelf it's just a pretty bauble; but once it disappears, that really gets the heart pounding and tempers flaring.

This 'global heist' of D&AD pencils was a rather obvious hoax to all at Adland - it's not our first rodeo as they say. But in terms of raising awareness of the value and importance of D&AD pencils, it did an effective job of putting the issue in the limelight and getting people talking.

D&AD explained their thinking behind the hoax:

Everyone has heard the old adage “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” and thanks to the creative minds at Lucky Generals, they were able to remind some of the world’s top creatives just that. By capturing the passion (and colourful language) that a missing D&AD Pencil evokes, they wanted to remind people of all the hard graft that goes into winning each award and why striving for creative excellence is still so important.

The heist took place over the course of Monday 11 January and sparked a wave of reactions over the following days, as agencies all over the world worried over their trophies' fate and voiced their confusion on social media. It was not until four days later (Thursday 14 January), that the Pencils were returned, alongside an explanation that the stunt had been designed to dramatise the uniquely precious nature of the awards.

One does wonder how much agencies were in on this; whether their tweets of surprise and shock were all orchestrated as part of the campaign; one does highly suspect so. However that doesn't make it any less of an effective campaign, nor the idea any less novel. Faking it is part of what we do at a granular level, part of advertising DNA. Whatever level of cooperation from the agencies, some of the reactions we witness on the case study video seem extremely pissed off and real. More than a few people were kept out of the loop - presumably the pencil winners, guarding their trophies jealously.

Tim Lindsay, D&AD CEO commented:

The heist was a spectacular piece of planning and was excellently executed but despite the excitement of seeing the reactions on social media, it was never really about taking the pencils. What we set out to do from the start, was to capture the reactions of people as their pencils were returned, reminding them of a very personal achievement, and I think that this film illustrates this perfectly.

In summary, don't get between a creative and their award, especially if it happens to be a D&AD Pencil.

Entries for the D&AD Professional Awards close on the 17 February 2016. Entry fees start at just £85; the work will be judged at the D&AD Festival and viewed by senior creatives and visitors.

Learn more about the D&AD Professional Awards here: www.dandad.org/en/professional-awards/

Check out our behind the scenes visit to D&AD Judging Week 2015.

Client: D&AD
Agency: Lucky Generals

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