D&AD JUDGING: NOBAY SAYS IT "COMES DOWN TO EQUAL VOICES, NOT JUST EQUAL NUMBERS"
D&AD has responded to the recent accusations on the CB Blog of British bias by canvassing the opinions of the Australian jurors this year. One juror, David Nobay, ECD of Saatchi & Saatchi Australia had this to say...
Having sat (or stood) on the hotly contested Print jury last year, then stood (actually sat) as Foreman on Radio this year, I guess I have a fair perspective on whether D&AD is ultimately a UK biased book. I think the point for me is not what the UK/World ratio is on the juries, but more the confidence and strength of voice of those collectively involved. My point? It's not a numbers thing; which is how it's being viewed at the moment. When I judged print, there was a strongly critical (in my opinion very negative) voice that continuously bubbled up from a small, but significant, UK clique. It was rarely constructive, often grumbly, and resulted in a very anorexic wall of finalists on the last day.
Marcello Serpa did his utmost to keep the debate positive, but "the voice" was unrelenting, and ultimately a lot of very strong, global work suffered.
I think there's a often a sense from overseas jurors that they're on UK turf for D&AD as "guests", not fellow colleagues. This has nothing to do with the D&AD body, who I think has gone to immense lengths to globalise the atmosphere, but more to do with many overseas jurors' own insecurity. I've seen overseas jurors whisper a fantastic point from the back of the jury pack (often not in their first language), only to get talked over by an over-confident local UK judge who demonstrates all the arrogant swagger of a bloke who's just popped next door to judge on his way to the local for a swift pint. I STRESS, THIS ISN'T THE CASE WITH ALL UK JUDGES, many of whom display a generosity and sensitivity to the challenges of their new colleagues' battle with jet-lag (the effect of which can never be underestimated when it comes to strength of voice on a jury!) and invariable struggle with language.
Conversely, when I oversaw the Radio jury this year, the atmosphere was lighthearted and the debate robust and fair. Everyone's voice was clearly heard, and the final selection represents, in my opinion as the Foreman, a genuinely rounded, global perspective.
So what's the conclusion? Well, for me, I still comes down to equal voices, not just equal numbers, and that's as much our local overseas responsibility as anyone's. Personally, I love the fact that the D&AD book is a complete bugger to get into. I guess the point is that it has to be an equal struggle for everyone, and that means taking a brave pill and standing up to the Poms if you're lucky enough to get a nod on the jury.
Whinging Aussies? That's a new one!