d&ad shift 2022: a celebration and a primer
For the past five-or-so-months, I’ve been hard at work doing D&AD (think BAFTA for design and advertising)’s night programme, Shift! In layman’s terms, I’m one of 21 people who don’t (yet) have a degree but do have enough talent to make it into The Creative Industry, whatever that means to us (or them). There, we made speculative ad campaigns for adidas, Guinness and Penguin, and we all somehow made everything work!
In summary, it’s been an absolute blast. Unlike disruptive and - let’s face it - ableist school environments that I’ve had the mIsfortune of being in, we’re all likeminded and goal-driven, and it always ends up being smiles all round. Me and my partner-in-glam Laura won the Adidas pitch the same day Kanye got fired, persisting in the eye of the storm and making a bunch more memories both in and out of pitch brainstorming (read: I had a pink gin at Smyle).
It’s the Showcase - the non-grad’s graduation - today. We’ve got commencement speeches going on and everything; the only thing different is that we’ve swapped mortarboards for plates with brunch on. So, if you’ve just attended this Showcase and are reading this a day or so in the future, there are messages for you. Not just to hire me but to hire everyone. Shift is all about the sell…
If you can’t go to this Showcase but are considering applying to any of the Shift programmes around the world, I’ll give you a glimpse of what to expect as well. X
London applications will be back open in February, New York’s course has just restarted, the German one’s open for another three weeks or so and fuck knows what’s happening down under SYDNEY STILL EXISTS HOORAH. I feel like this course, and the talent within, is needed now more than ever. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a contrarian but also it’s clearly a case of dismantling privilege and giving a voice to those who were screwed over by academia/the school system in some way, minute or not. With that in mind, I have a few tips to help you prepare for this ride:
Network, network, network!!! But also realise that you could be doing that in an environment full of 70-year-old white men who would probably faint if they went on TikTok, even if they wrote some slogan in the 80s that still pops up in the cultural lexicon from time to time and OMG I can’t believe they wrote that. Even then, do it anyway. (Trust me - I met the guy who wrote the Heineken ad about the Water in Majorca and made a right tit of myself in front of him.)
Speaking of which, if Brian Collins - the guy who reimagined the Twitch logo, introduced Spotify to gradient maps and made Motorola trendy back in the 00s - says you’re the best dressed at the president’s dinner TWICE over, don’t brag about it as much as I did… oh wait…
Always be considerate with managing your time. Deadlines are, unfortunately, a real thing. Many of us have jobs on the side - I got a job halfway through the programme. Plus, we also have lives to live. So, always be meticulous with what to do over your weeks there, and your future colleagues and clients will reward you for it.
Have a grand idea for how to execute a brief? Don’t overcomplicate things; it’s not a full global campaign, it’s just something speculative to test our abilities out for when we actually do things like that. I was this close to asking some queer sport scenesters to pose for me for the adidas brief, but using already existing property and taking a picture of a neighbour seemed to do the trick.
Having technical difficulties? Try your best, I guess. The Brief In A Day was hindered on our (mine/Hallie’s/Theo’s/Anisa’s) end due to this, but we still managed to make a poster.
Trying to join a group on your own? Be transparent about who you want to work with. Me and Laura found each other because everyone seemed to have grouped up for adidas without us knowing. Saying “and it worked” is an understatement!
We’ve gotten very lucky in that all of our briefs are from household brands. ALWAYS expect to do an adidas brief and NEVER write adidas with a capital A. Aside from a single lecture and obvs having personnel go to the showcase, Google don’t seem to be that involved with what we do, but I do think they fund it heavily and there’ll be some peeps from there.
Never, and I repeat NEVER, order the Tikitini from the Diageo bar. Two types of vodka - one Ciroc one Smirnoff. It tastes like a mixture of paint thinner and a Twister lolly, and I’d rather just have a Twister. I ate an entire pizza afterwards and, thanks to the Tikitini, puked it all up, spending the next day with a hangover that had to be treated by £50 worth of oysters at the Corinthia. I’d recommend staying as sober as possible, but it’s so hard.
Always hope for a good - and consistent - mentor. Our picks this year have been very hit and miss - some fit their chosen Shifters like a glove, others are looser and some just drop out without warning.
Speaking of pot luck, some of the lectures you’ll get will be a bit groanworthy; possibly even out of touch. When you suspect a rat, make sure to air your grievances in the group chat (during break time obvs).
Kill your darlings. I think that’s why my group lost the Guinness brief - we had both Choices and What’s The Motive as essentially separate campaigns in a framework. (Then again, I don’t think any of our ideas would have been good enough to beat April/Hailie/Kev).
On a diet? Unless you’re vegan, be prepared to wave goodbye to it - you’ll be living on pizza and Kit Kats for four-and-a-bit months. Me and Kev came in low-carb but didn’t come out low-carb. Sandra always picks the same things for refreshments, which helps/hurts.
adidas are the best at corporate dinners, with Papa John’s pizza and Tesco biscuits in their selection. AKQA are the worst - they ordered from a place called Palm Greens that is so blandly healthy, even Gwyneth Paltrow would prefer a Happy Meal over it.
Most of all - have fun! Cherish every moment - I spent less time here than I did at Creative Lives, which honestly feels shocking.
So, you’re at least a midweight, if not a senior, if not just a superfan. Hundreds applied, 21 of us made it, some were robbed of a rightful place and need to come back the next year. For those interested in people who aren’t me, I’ve made a little primer on my fellow Shifter babs.
Having applied for three of the four Shift Select agencies, I know that many of my classmates have decided to seek further creative employment elsewhere, and if you’re from Huge then you’ll be picking someone else anyway. So I just want to show my appreciation and warmth to everyone I went on this journey with, so that you can help continue it.
Anisa: Universally recognised as the class’s dark horse. She came into Challenge Day seeming like your typical fandom-obsessed illustrator/animator, but once she got into class, out sprouted a boss bitch (mwahahaha). Also it was so fun taking her green Build-A-frog (or, as I called him, Froggy J Guinness) out for a venture during Guinness pitch day.
April: Probably the most focused and driven person here. It was so heartwarming to see her win the Guinness pitch because that competitive streak (after the Brief In A Day she was DETERMINED to win a pitch) and strong work ethic clearly paid off. (And, yes, she’s aware of how short she is.)
Assunta: An Italian Stallion (or female equivalent… Italian Mare?) with the best mane in the class; naturally another dark horse when in a team; makes some stunning illustrations.
Hallie: Such an adept filmmaker at a young age; I’ve convinced her that she’s the next Alberta Whittle even though she doesn’t know who she is. Also she’s one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, I swear.
Hannah: An absolutely wonderful artist. In Disney’s good books, and I’m pretty certain she’d make a good princess. Shops from SHEIN but so do I because capitalism.
Imran: The oldest in the class at 33. So effortlessly cool, but TBH we all look like the ensemble of an off-West End production of Rent. Recently injured, so bear with him even though I think he’s healed by now.
Jojo: HOW ON EARTH IS SHE 28. Such a sweetheart and wonderful all-round graphic designer. Norwich’s finest. Honestly not much else to say about her because her presence and accent speak for themselves.
Justyna: From Reading, with love. Would need Crossrail but she knows how to drive. Also extremely focused and disciplined and I love that, especially as she’s a mum too. Wooed a Spanish guy once IIRC.
KD: Needs to stop putting herself down and being so hard on herself. She’s gone through so much as a young mum and can do so much (she’s a singer/songwriter first and foremost, was a great ideator through the course and is a very adept model). And like, she is the sweetest thing. Absolute ray of sunshine.
Kev: Gorgeous photographer, currently working with the Photography Foundation and being part of the Barbican’s young artists programme. Wears berets a lot.
Lanre: An absolute prodigy. The youngest in this class at 19 and originally picked for last year’s cohort, he had to quit a digital marketing apprenticeship for Jamie Oliver so that he could complete this (and enjoy a guilt-free turkey twizzler, I guess!) As well as being the class’s resident tech support, Lanre has also proved throughout this course that he can skateboard and sing!
Laura: MOTHERRRRR. Even without our Glam Team dynamics, I do love to big her up – when you’ve performed on bills with Lemm Sisay and Benjamin Zephanaiah, then you have a message that can resonate through any task. I know for a fact that she hasn’t applied to Select as her current ambition is to be an editorial assistant in publishing, so Penguin Random House, if you’re reading this…
Lewis: Needs to work somewhere that isn’t the Apple Store, so give him a chance (unless you work at Media Arts Lab). Denies that he’s the human equivalent of an exposed brick wall at a craft brewery, which is like me denying that I have hazel eyes. Absolutely lovely anyhoo.
Mars: ABSOLUTE ICON. Ever since I met them at Challenge Day, we just MESHED SO WELL because we’re both queer scenesters (them more than me TO BE FAIR) so obviously magic has happened between us. (PS, Sony babs, if you’re reading this, can you give them an A7 III with kit lens? They want it for Xmas x)
Perpetua: Sooooo down to earth. I tried pouring water on her hair during Challenge Day because we were essentially playing hairdressers and obvs it didn’t go well aside from the fact we both made it in!
Ray: OK he’s actually already gotten a job in industry being a strategist at Smyle (hi ya!), but if you want a DJ for your Xmas party and can only do a day when Imran and Mars are fully booked, Ray is your man x. He also started durag discourse that Theo fanned the flames of, and talks about being “pragmatic” a lot.
Romaine: One of the most charismatic men I’ve ever met. On Challenge Day I thought for two seconds that he worked at D&AD! Going into Shift, he’s noticed he has a knack for ideation (even though he never won a pitch, he’s definitely good at the sell), and he’s a great content producer and editor as well.
Sasha: So many of us Shifter babs are much older than we look, but Sasha’s the opposite – they’re 22 (or at least they claim they are), have been piercing since they were like 14 and look like they’ve been around the block. Plus they’re also the fourth of our four DJs, so if you want a witchy techno laser Xmas, hit them up x
Theo: Unassuming at first but spectacular (yet still comforting) once you get to know him. Gorgeous photographer as well; loves a bit of stark lighting.
Viss: She has the same problems as I do – she’s got an eye and a digicam; she just needs to GET OUT THERE and spread her message far and wide, even though we’re two neurodivergent tortoises hiding our heads in our pink glittery shells and that is a curse. Also she looks like Lady Gaga and no one has noticed but me. Tell me I’m not crazy.
Now, as for me, I find things a bit hard to articulate face-to-face, so I’ve decided to be acute with what I want from y’all.
Superunion: I feel like creativity wouldn’t be creativity without ideas. Will doing this internship cure writers block? Probably not, but at least it’ll give me ways to implement my mind-a-minute creativity and enthusiasm into real-world situations. Plus, you’re all about taking risks, and using my authentically queer and neurodivergent point of view is a risk in itself - that’ll obviously pay off!
Design Studio: This will definitely be an exercise in learning by doing. I’m not the best at motion and I’m more of a Photoshop than an Illustrator bab, but I am planning on making at least one Blender doughnut within the next month, and I feel like any medium that translates well to real life can bring better-than-ideal results. And, also, I love a good moodboard and to be an aesthete.
Hope & Glory: What I hope to get out of it are the things beneficial for a social media manager who has ambitions of working as a magazine writer and (in essence) professional party girl. It’ll give me the chutzpah and gab to help spread whatever word I need to. The ways to create discussion, the ways to question.
Everyone else: If you like my writing and/or photography, hit me up. If you have any growth hacking techniques under your belt, hit me up. If you just want a green tea at the Bermondsey Fuckoffee, hit me up. I just want to be a brand!
Today I'll be taking pictures of all the enquiring minds who want to know, so expect a DM or email tomorrow or Friday with a picture and another surprise!