Veteran film producer Lord David Puttnam (above right) used his prize-giving speech at last night's awarding of the first ever D&AD White Pencil to tell the advertising industry that it needs to show what the companies it brands are really like – authentically and honestly – if it wants to win back the trust of consumers.
Puttnam's career began in the advertising industry before going on to produce films such as Chariots of Fire and The Killing Fields. Last night he painted himself as inspired by counter-culture ideals in the 1960s, and then disappointed by what he considers to be the limited social impact that they ended up having.
He quoted the words of TE Lawrence (best known as Lawrence of Arabia) from his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, saying "The moral freshness of the world-to-be intoxicated us."
"I sympathise," Puttnam continued. "I grew up in the 60s. I know every line of Bob Dylan’s songs. And we genuinely believed there was a revolution on its way. Then the old men came and took away the victory we thought we’d won.
"We are now, I believe, at a tipping point. [We need] trust. The people in this room – marketers – are in the trust business. We have a huge mountain to climb to build trust – in banking, in politics, in media. There is a need for goodness, a need for authenticity and a need for trust, because its almost always absent. Its got to be real this time."
Puttnam said that he believed that the White Pencil is a very important part of redressing the balance. The Pencil was created to reward an idea that has a genuine social impact, and this year was based around helping pubicise the World Peace Day initiative created by Jeremy Gilley's Peace One Day organisation. This sets September 21 as the UN’s global self-sustaining annual day of peace, and has had some noticeable successes in reducing violence on that day in countries such as Afghanistan – allowing NGOs to safely go out and distributre aid and medicines.
The White Pencil was won by Leo Burnett Chicago for its Recipeace project, a social movement designed to bring people in the agency's home city together over a shared meal. The Award was collected by Kit Patrick and Alice Hooper from Leo Burnett UK (above between Jeremy Gilley, former D&AD president Rosie Arnold and Lord Puttnam).
Rosie Arnold also showed off the White Pencil-winning entry from this year's Student Awards (below), which also won the overall Student of the Year award for Martin Headon and Olly Wood. It's a concept for a campaign to get Battlefield 3 players to play FIFA 12 for a day instead, inspired by the games of football from the Christmas 1914 ceasefire. We overheard many attendees at the event last night saying that they thought it was a better idea than the professional entries.
In 2013 the White Pencil will be integrated with the D&AD Professional Awards.