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The foreign entry issue is really interesting. On the one hand you want to be inclusive, but how can you possibly judge the quality of writing if you only read English? I've been on the Writing for Design jury twice, and this has never come up. I suppose it's inevitable given D&AD's international remit... I guess either you need jurors who speak the relevant language, or confine it to just English.

Nick Asbury

I'd certainly like to have all languages included if there was a practical way of doing it. But I can't see how it's possible unless you have a jury of about fifty people.

The only workable system I can think of would be to have an extra 'clearing stage' for foreign-language submissions.

The judges would assess each piece as normal, based on the translation (exactly as we did). But then a native speaker (a writer themselves) would be asked to check over any in-book or nominated entries.

The work would already have been judged to be good enough, so their brief would simply be to let the judges know if there are any obvious reasons to mark it down again. (Glaring spelling mistakes, clumsy phrasing...)

This would still be a slightly unsatisfactory compromise, but at least it would be an extra check to ensure nothing embarrassing gets through.

(Like I say, none of this is meant to cast a shadow over the Espacio David Puente piece – it's really good and I'm 99% sure it's worthy of the prize. Just not 100%.)

David Airey

Stopped by after Ben's recommendation on Noisy Decent Graphics. Thanks for the write-up, Nick. I enjoyed the little insight into the judging process.


I was Foreman of the jury at D&AD this year. What a fine jury it was, we had some great debates and all parted friends. One of the debates was over Spanish. For myself, I speak a good Spanish menu but claim no expertise in that language. This did make it difficult. We did all we could to check the meaning of the words. There were translations that read well in English, and my Spanish was good enough to check that they were reasonably literal translations rather than English inventions. We got a Spanish speaker to read a poster in Spanish - it sounded great, one of the highlights of the afternoon. But obviously I can't judge the quality of writing in Spanish.

I felt we were right to allow the Spanish entries (only one of which was voted into the book). First because it was ambitious and showed a lot of confidence to enter these pieces, taking the rather high risk of wasting your money completely. Secondly, and much more importantly, D&AD awards are about ideas. If a brilliant idea had been submitted that contained only one word, we might have awarded it. The Spanish work that did get voted into the book had more than one word, but only short paragraphs to represent four different approaches, all based on the same idea. You could judge the quality of the idea and I was happy to see it in the book.

Nick Asbury

You're right about the ideas, John, which is what D&AD is really all about (no matter what the category.) My worry is when it comes to the craft categories, you need to be able to assess the wordsmithery first-hand, because good ideas can be badly executed.

That said, I think there's a problem with my position – because, while I'm criticising the process, it did lead to a great result. A fine piece of work got recognised that otherwise wouldn't have. Like you say, it was brave of them to enter and there was something quite heart-warming about watching us all, as judges, doing our best to grapple with it.

I think the kind of compromise I talked about above would make me happier in future (it's effectively what we tried in the hall), but I'd be interested to know what other people think.

PS: Glad you enjoyed it, David. Nothing like a link from Ben to get people dropping by.

Sebastián Cangiano

Hi, I'm Sebastián, creative director of virgen extra. First of all, thanks a lot for your words and appreciation related to david puente's campaign.

...now that I think about it I really have nothing special to comment, I guess I just wanted to let my "thanks" get close to the people that enjoyed reading the work.

I love reading, I try to write, and still believe advertising and design is a place where good writing can and should, really should, find a place.

Hope I could meet you one day.


Sebastián Cangiano

Sorry, I just remember one thing that I did wanted to comment and forgot.

It's related to the doubts generated on english speakers on how the campaing's copies are read in spanish.

I really believe that there's certain melody in the way a copy, or better said, a simple text is written and read. My english is ok, far far away from being bilingual, but good enough to make sure that the translation was as close as it could be to the spirit of the original text.

So I can imagine the problems of judging writing craftmanship in a different lenguage. In this particular case, the "spanish version" has all that "melody" and rithym component. I guess that if I'd had seen that the translation didn't get somehow close to the original pieces, we would have probable decided no the send the work.

Thanks again.

Nick Asbury

Hi Sebastián - great to hear from you.

I know exactly what you mean about the melody and rhythm of the language - nice way of putting it. I think we could definitely get a feel for that from the translation. We could also tell it was a great idea (in any language). My worry is whether we're really able to do justice to the copy on the basis of a translation, and whether this will create more and more problems in future years.

But there is a big plus side – it gives us a chance to celebrate great pieces of work that we wouldn't otherwise encounter, which can only be a good thing.


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