Adam&EveDDB, Mother and Division all awarded at this year’s D&AD ceremony

Two coveted Black Pencils were also handed out for projects in two craft-based categories: Visual Effects and Product Design.

26 May 2023

D&AD has announced its winners for 2023, awarding a total 639 Pencils and two Black Pencils – an accolade which is known to fluctuate in quantity each year, though seems to be on a slight downward slope with five awarded in 2022 and three in 2021. This year’s D&AD Awards garnered a record number of entries at 30,000. Social issues were at the forefront once more, in particular themes around mental health, accessibility and inclusivity.

Black Pencils (reserved only for “groundbreaking” creative work) were awarded in the categories of Visual Effects and Product Design. Division secured the first for its work on Pharrell’s Cash In Cash Out, one of last year’s most memorable music videos. The production and visual effects company used CGI animation to turn Pharrell, Tyler the Creator and 21 Savage into toy-like avatars. The work also used VFX to simulate traditional animation styles, like stop motion and zoetrope.

Abby.World took home the second Black Pencil for its project generating awareness about congenital heart disease for The Swedish Heartchild Foundation. Heartbeat Drum Machine is a synthesiser that produces rhythms using the electrocardiograms of four children with different heart defects.

Jo Jackson, CEO of D&AD, says: “We’re so pleased our judges awarded Black Pencils in the more craft-based categories this year – Visual Effects and Product Design. Both winners demonstrated exceptional creative excellence and craftsmanship, which is particularly poignant when the whole industry is concerned about AI’s impact on the advertising and creative industry.”


Division / Electric Theatre Collective: Cash In Cash Out (Copyright © Sony Music Entertainment / Columbia Records, 2022)

Elsewhere, agencies of the year include Adam&EveDDB for Advertising, King Henry for Design and Division for best Production Company. The founders of Mother were chosen by this year’s President Richard Brim, CCO at Adam&EveDDB, for the President’s Award.

Yellow pencils were given to a range of creative projects, with Freedom Grams awarded in the Packaging Design category and Collins in Branding Design for its work for Freeform, with socially led projects like There’s Nothing Comic About Dyslexia also securing prizes. BETC Paris won a Yellow Pencil for its campaign showing unexpected encounters in the Lacoste community. The United States had the most points per country for the seventh consecutive year.

On Mother for the President’s Award, Richard Brim says: “I chose them because I’m a massive believer in the power of a creative ‘gang’ and no one embodies that more than Mother. Their philosophy is based on the creative collective and its possibilities, and as an outsider looking in, that was intoxicating. [...] With the criteria being someone that changed things for the better, I feel confident in my choice of that someone being Mother.” Readers can explore the full list of winners here.


Abby.World: The Swedish Heartchild Foundation, Heartbeat Drum Machine (Copyright © Abby.World, 2022)


Division / Electric Theatre Collective: Cash In Cash Out (Copyright © Sony Music Entertainment / Columbia Records, 2022)

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BETC Paris: Unexpected Encounters (Copyright © BETC Paris / Lacoste, 2022)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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