D & AD and the Yellow Haired Trophies

Thanks D & AD, for a great evening last wednesday.

Hats off to the organisers for deciding to jetison the awards do formula of having an overpaid comedian present the awards in between quips about what a silly industry advertising is (as you sometimes get when Simon Amstell, Stephen Mangan, Edith Bowman et.al. are at the mic).

Instead they chose two people who knew the work and cared about the work – Neville Brody and Timothy Lindsay, both of whom did a great job.

So that decision was a genuine improvement. But it was undone by another less progressive decision.

‘We might not have a comedian to hand over the pencils to the winners, but don’t worry’ said Tim, ‘we’ve still got a bit of glamour for you’. Shortly after, they wheeled in a tall blonde in a black dress, to er, transport the yellow pencils all of the one metre journey from behind the curtain to the presenter. There was then a succession of blondes to convey each award  to the stage (whether it was the same model each time, or there were multiple blondes, I can’t recall).

Now I may have been O.D.ing on Caitlin Moran at the moment, so my apologies if this comes over as a feminist rant, but…


Did we really need a trophy blonde to carry in the pencils? It felt like something out of Madmen. Only, the first season, back when Peggy was still making Don’s coffee and playing piano like a dog.

Nothing against blondes here (I am one, in fact). But what was weird was the way she was there to ‘add glamour’ as opposed to anything more cerebral.

This, combined with the fact that only a handful of women went up all night to collect awards (the under-representation of women in adland is a whole other rant for another day), and it all felt a bit weird and old-fashioned. What was worse was that she didn’t even award them to the winners! She just handed them to Neville and Tim. So they could then hand them to the winners. So she was essentially a well-dressed conveyor belt.

Perhaps all they needed instead was some natty Ikea shelving hidden under the lecturn, so they could pick them up before handing them to the winners?

Or, here’s a better suggestion from Nat:

Why not give this conveyor belt honour to some up and coming creatives, or to this year’s D & AD student award nominees? Give tomorrow’s Hegarties and Tagholms the honour of shaking the hand of the winners of today.  Maybe it’s a little cheesy (or reminiscent of the Olympic ceremony) but isn’t nurturing tomorrow’s talent what D & AD is all about? As opposed to helping women fulfil their arm candy potential, I mean.

Now, has anyone got a lighter? I’m just off to burn my bra.




12 thoughts on “D & AD and the Yellow Haired Trophies

  1. LOL and Nat I can only assume you weren’t at the 2012 ceremony, where D&AD President, Rosie Arnold, had a man present her with trophies, to subsequently pass on to winners. Was that sexist too?

    Your highlighting of the use of a woman for this purpose merely points to your own perceptions, not ours.

    “whether it was the same model each time, or there were multiple blondes, I can’t recall” I’m sorry, but this indicates that you believe all blonde people look the same…?The lady who handed out the pencils (I wont name her here) is actually a young employee at a media agency. We thought we’d give her the change to be involved with D&AD and experience the networking opportunity of the ceremony at the same time. I guess you didn’t speak to her, given that she was ‘wheeled in’ (are you insinuating women can’t walk?)…Check your facts please. Then learn a little bit about feminism, which does not involve burning bras (what era are you in?)


    1. Hi Luc
      Thanks for your comment. On your first point – No we weren’t there last year, and that’s very interesting to hear.On your second – that is great to know she works in the media and was given the opportunity. But unless my memory is failing me (and if it is then I can only apologise for having too much wine) they didn’t introduce her as that, they introduced her as someone who would bring some ‘glamour’, which just felt a tiny bit gameshow in the context. On your third point I’ve just been learning a little about feminism from Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to be a woman’ which I recommend anyone reading. It covers the many very subtle ways in which sexism still rears its head, and is possibly what sparked off my reaction. Apologies for getting some of the facts wrong, it was just an honest reaction to how it made some of us feel on the night. Good on D&AD for getting a young employee to give out the awards; and thank you for letting us know who she was.  


      1. Hi Lol,

        I appreciate the response. I guess my main gripe is when people use lazy feminist tropes (bra burning…), and assume that women can’t think for themselves. What’s more, people shouldn’t be apologetic about taking a feminist stance.
        Maybe D&AD could have made more of her credentials, maybe they could have shouted more about the students and new creatives who were given free tickets. You weren’t the only people to notice this. 
        In addition to Moran’s book (which I haven’t read yet) I’d recommend John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, which relates particularly to how women are portrayed in advertising. At least we all know there’s more work to be done…


      2. Hi Luc,
        Something’s come up that Nat and I would love to chat to you about… in the interests of rant-off-setting 🙂 Not sure how to message you from here, but do you have an email address please? Thank you…Lol


      3. Hi Luc,

        Something’s come up that Nat and I would love to chat to you about… in the interests of rant-off-setting 🙂 Not sure how to message you from here, but do you have an email address please? Thank you…Lol


  2. I did not attend either ceremony, but introducing someone’s role as being “adding a bit of glamour” and not revealing their name or position in the industry, is disrespectful and insensitive. Especially if that person was invited along because of their role in the industry. If this is indeed what happened, D&AD should simply apologize, accept their mistake, and not go about trying to defend it. 

    On another note, Luc, please do not try to tell any woman how to define, express or talk about feminism.


  3. At last, women in mainstream agencies are starting to stand up to the institutionalised sexism in our industry.

    Good on ya Lolly and Nat. Don’t let the ant-feminists or so-called ‘Post-feminists’ stop you. And don’t apologise!

    The fact that Rosie Arnold had men handing out the pencils last year shows how she condones and perpetuates sexist attitudes by mirroring male behaviour (even if in reality she doesn’t think this, that’s what it looks like).

    And the fact that this ‘blonde’ – and yes, you’re right to say ‘all ‘blondes’ look the same in this context – they’re supposed to. You had correctly identified that the intentional use of a blonde in a ‘sexy’ outfit ‘serving’ the men had the effect of showing the girl as a generic female object.

    The fact that she was a ‘talented media intern’ is not relevant – she was there because she looked good  to men –  she was simply a symbol of being ‘allowed in’ to the male institution because she fits the ideal.

    She would not have been chosen if she was not ‘glamorous’. Remember the Wonderbra ad – ‘I never read the Economist’ Linda Foster, CEO, aged 29′. It’s the same message – women can join the boys club, but only on their terms. Rant over. For now.


  4. I agree with Gail, THANK YOU Lol and Nat for raising this issue in what is still largely a big boys’ club of advertising. That takes guts. And the more we talk about it, the more we dare to speak out against the accepted convention, the more we can change it for the better.

    Feminism lives!!


  5. Let’s be clear. I’m about as feminist-aware as an eighties banker being treated to some corporate ‘entertainment’ in the seedier streets of Hong Kong.

    But, I was at the awards show, and was pretty bloody surprised at the introduction the ‘trophy blonde’ was given. It felt more like being at a boxing match than the event of an educational organisation. Which all in all probably makes it a bit inappropriate, and left me the wrong kind of gob smacked.


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