We speak to the winners of the D&AD's Student White Pencil and Student of the Year prizes, Martin Headon and Olly Wood.
This year sees the debut of the D&AD's White Pencil, a prize that challenges creatives to promote a specific cause of the organisation's choosing. The first cause is the Peace Day on September 21 organised by charity Peace One Day, which aims to help end conflicts around the world. While the main winners aren't announced until November, the White Pencil was also a category in this year's Student Awards – and the winning concept is going to be hard for the commercial agencies vying for the main prize to top.
Martin Headon and Olly Wood's concept is simple and brilliant. On Sep 21, players of EA's first-person shooter Battlefield 3 would be offered a special new map they could take their in-game characters onto – a football pitch that neatly ties into another of the game company's big brands, FIFA. They would lay down their arms and have a kickabout, a reference to the Christmas Day 1914 truces along the trenches of the First World War.
“Our first approach was, in the usual manner of these things, to flounder around like horny salmon in a jacuzzi, leaping to answers and execution with unfocused abandon," says Martin. "After a short while, we realised we needed to reframe the question. I saw that the worst thing we could do was just expect ordinary people to care about wars and conflict in distant countries – this approach would surely only attract the usual suspects; the habitually charitable. Instead, we needed find a place where the concepts of peace and conflict already existed in people's minds and in people's lives - and target them there.
“Armed with this new brief, Olly came up with the idea of a football game within a military video game, such as Call Of Duty - reflecting the 1914 Christmas truce in the trenches. Unfortunately, research suggested that coding such an event would be nigh-on impossible, but then I found that Electronic Arts owned both one of the biggest war games and the biggest football game on the planet - Battlefield and FIFA. This was the true birth of the idea."
“From that point, everything just seemed to slot into place. Olly discovered how in-game advertising could be used to send gamers teasers about the event. I spotted the letters EA lurking inside the word 'peace', and after a brief interlude of demented hyperventilation, told Olly, who put together the logo.”
“Olly created and edited the video, photoshopping the various scenes and executions. I wrote and – after multiple revisions – voiced the script. As well as our own efforts, a great deal of credit goes to our teachers and mentors at the School of Communication Arts 2.0 – whose help, advice, and encouragement was vital in the production of the video.”
Watch the pitch video below to learn more.
Disappointingly, it doesn't seem that the project will grow from a concept into a real project. It's a shame as it's the kind of idea whose brilliance makes you smile as soon as you hear it through. It something that we'd expect EA would jump all over to show that it's behind the concept of socially responsible gaming – and, outside of a few gamerbrats who would inevitably denounced it as 'ghey', a project that would connect with young people who rarely engage with such campaigns.