The Best Ads And Creative Talent Of The Last 50 Years, According to Britain’s D&AD

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, ad and design organization D&AD spotlights its most award-winning ad companies and people since the Mad Men era.


Its Yellow Pencils are recognized as a mark of creative brilliance but a Black Pencil from D&AD is arguably the most coveted prize in commercial creativity and only awarded to truly groundbreaking work. This month, British creative organization D&AD celebrates its 50th anniversary by digging into its archives and revealing which companies and people have collected the most awards since the first Pencil was handed out. Some of names on the list of most winning people and companies will only be known to serious students of advertising, but their work provides an excellent chronicle of creativity, mainly in TV’s golden age, from 1962 to the early 2000s.


The most awarded agency is Collett Dickenson Pearce & Partners (CDP), widely recognized as Britain’s best-ever ad agency and for many the world’s best, at least in the 1970s and ’80s. Now sadly defunct, it was born about the same time as the D&AD Awards and produced some of the legends of advertising, including Sir Alan Parker, Lord Puttnam, Charles Saatchi, and Sir Frank Lowe. Memorable campaigns are many but among them is work for clients Hovis–with its now much-parodied “When I were a lad” ad–Heineken and Benson & Hedges (Hamlet) and anyone aged over 40 will smile at the memory of the Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins series for Cinzano.

The most awarded Production Company goes to Gorgeous Enterprises. (It’s always a pleasure to phone this company, for who could fail to be cheered when greeted with: “Hello Gorgeous!”). Its work includes classics by Frank Budgen for Guinness and Levis, and more recently Chris Palmer’s viral hit for T-Mobile.

Budgen himself picks up joint first place for most awarded director, and sharing it with him is Tony Kaye, whose commercial creative successes include work for Dunlop, Tag Heuer, Volvo (“Twister”), and Olympus. Kaye is also laden with Grammy nominations for music videos and won a 2008 Grammy for a film made for Johnny Cash’s God’s Gonna Cut You Down. (Who is not in that video?) His feature film debut was American History X (1998), starring Ed Norton.


Neil Godfrey, who started his ad career in 1967 at DDB, then later moved to CDP picks up the most awarded art director, fending off competition from the likes of Sir John Hegarty, 1970s ad giant John Webster, and BFG9000’s Eric Kallman. Best known for his still highly influential print and poster work, Godfrey’s clients included Remington, Birds Eye, Fiat, and Benson & Hedges.

Godfrey’s creative partner, Tony Brignull, is the most awarded copywriter. Brignull began his career at JWT but spent the majority of his working life, apart from spells at DDB, at CDP. (Can you see a pattern here?). Like Godfrey he is possibly best known for stellar print work for Birds Eye, Olympus, Whitbread, and Parker pens but also made some great TV spots for Clarks footwear and Fiat.

Most awarded brand goes to Apple, which may surprise no one and yet it fought off competition from Benson & Hedges, the cigarette brand, which, the ethics of being a tobacco brand notwithstanding, repeatedly ran cutting-edge campaigns–in particular when anti-tobacco advertising regulations were introduced, and also from Guinness, a brand for which the launch of new advertising was a hotly anticipated public event.


Click though the slide show above to see samples of the work of CDP, Budgen, Kaye, Godfrey and Brignull.

Below, the lists of top 10 finalists for most awarded agency and creatives.

Top 10 agencies:
BBH London
Collett Dickenson Pearce
DDB London
Saatchi & Saatchi London
TBWA London
Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Wieden + Kennedy London


David Abbott
Eric Kallman
John Salmon
John Webster
Mike Cozens
Nick Gill
Nick Worthington
Steve Henry
Tom Carty
Tony Brignull

Art directors:
Axel Chaldecott
Bob Isherwood
Craig Allen
David Horry
John Gorse
John Hegarty
John Webster
Neil Godfrey
Tony McTear
Walter Campbell

Alan Parker
Chris Cunningham
Chris Palmer
Frank Budgen
Hugh Hudson
Jonathan Glazer
Michel Gondry
Roger Woodburn
Tom Kuntz
Tony Kaye

About the author

Louise Jack is a London-based journalist, writer and editor with a background in advertising and marketing. She has written for several titles including Marketing Week, Campaign and The Independent.