Blood, sweat and simple ideas

The ‘New Blood’ category of the prestigious D&AD awards aims to identify the very best advertising and design students. The briefs are usually open and interesting. The work is almost always fresh and exciting. But apart from ads for computer games and saving the planet, would more complicated subjects like financial services be tackled. AML’s Head of Art, Chris Walker went along to find out.

Many, many years ago I left art school to head for London with a shiny degree and a job already lined up (my, how times have changed). I’d even done a D&AD course which gave me a hint of what real grown-up advertising was like.

So now that I’m a real grown up advertising person, I went with interest to this year’s D&AD Fresh Blood show, down the road in Shoreditch. Like many student projects, this year’s briefs allowed plenty of creative freedom. Set by interesting clients, with subject matters to inspire the youngsters, they included injustice (a brief from Amnesty International), crime (Crimewatch) and conservation (WWF). You get the picture. But, I wondered, would there be anything relevant to financial services?

For many entering the industry, financial services isn’t seen as the sexiest category in advertising. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that among the 16 briefs students could choose from, there was one from Nationwide. The brief recognised that financial services were not really connecting with 16-25 year-olds and challenged the design students to shake up the market. “We’re looking to re-imagine the future of banking,” the brief said. “And there are no limits. Think Uber and Airbnb, brands which take a service and turn them on their head; well now it’s time to do so for financial services. Your challenge is to re-engage the most savvy generation to date.”

Eight students won an award for their response to the Nationwide brief (out of a total of 155 awards). Here are three of my favourites.

Nationwide for Messenger
A simple idea that uses Facebook Messenger, the number one messaging platform for Millennials. Nationwide would given them 24/7 on-demand service with a ‘Nationwide bot’, quick and easy ways to transfer money and seamless ways to manage their account. From arranging a short-term saving system for a group to fund a holiday, to paying someone directly if they leant you a tenner the previous night.

A simple app that rounds up everything you spend, and saves the extra into a separate account that’s for a specific purpose, e.g. buying a new set of headphones. So if you spend £3.20 on a coffee, it rounds it up to, say, £3.50, and puts 30p into the account. The amount rounded up is set by you.

Nationwide Change

A great CSR idea. Young homeless people rely on spare change to survive but cash is quickly being replaced by contactless payments. Nationwide would give them a simple contactless card-reader, so that the public can make a quick £1 donation via their bank cards or phones. Contact in a contactless world. The homeless person is also given a proper bank card so that they can then spend the donations. But cleverly, only allows for certain purchases. Not booze.

Some really nice bits of thinking. And all the winners’ ideas were mobile-based, a trend we’re definitely plugged into at AML. Okay, so the students didn’t have our good friends in compliance or cost control to deal with. But they can face that when they’re grown-up creatives.

Taking something that seems complex and coming up with a simple solution is just what the industry’s new blood should be doing. That’s why we’re always on the lookout for the best young talent and are recruiting at the moment. If you know of a young creative team (or you’re part of one yourself) who wants the opportunity to create big, simple ideas, do get in touch.