Charlotte Cunningham - '24 Months' winning work for the D&AD New Blood Awards 2019

What Does Creativity Mean To You: The D&AD New Blood Awards Winner

21 year-old Charlotte Cunningham won a Yellow Pencil at this year’s D&AD New Blood Awards for her ‘24 Months’ answer to the giffgaff brief. Her challenge was to create a copy-led campaign that celebrated giffgaff’s story and what makes them unique.

Charlotte is in her third year of a BA (Hons) degree in Creative Advertising at Leeds Arts University.

CG: Why did you enter D&AD New Blood?
CC:. I’ve always loved writing stories, lyrics and poetry. I wasn’t really thinking about the competition; it was just me exploring my writing further: I never really expected to even enter; it was just a module at uni, but then my tutor suggested I enter properly.

It was really nice to push something and go further with an idea rather than just leaving it as words on a page – and think about the visual side of things as well.

CG: How did you come up with your idea?
CC: I deliberated over doing a poem, because I knew giffgaff had done other poems in their advertising.  We’d just finished a module on filming in advertising and I got quite into stitching films together on the software. I wrote the poem then decided I wanted to do a video. My tutor, Nick Young, said I should be the one who spoke it. It’s really important how you read poetry, and the pace of it. It’d be different if another person said it; maybe the meaning wouldn’t come across as well. 

I thought I had a week to finish, but found out the entry was due in the next day! I wasn’t allowed to take out cameras from my art college but luckily the IT department said they’d help right away. I was in tracksuit bottoms and didn’t want to film in those … I found a girl in the year above and said, ‘I know this is going to sound really weird, but can I borrow your trousers for an hour?!’

I’d already made the piece of film to be projected onto my face.  I wanted long and short shots for when I was filmed so just memorised each stanza and did it that way.  I wanted the film to feel authentic instead of looking slick.

CG: How has winning made a difference to you?
CC: It’s been a bit of a whirlwind! 

I was approached by Abi Pearl, Head of Advertising at giffgaff, who introduced me to made by blah™, their ad agency and I’ve been working for them this summer. They’re a small creative advertising company aiming to do things differently and make pieces of art rather than just annoying ads on telly. It’s really refreshing to be in an environment where people think the same way as you.

I don’t feel like an intern: making coffees or sitting in meetings. I feel like I’ve really fallen on my feet, in the right place.  So, right now, I’m writing a song for an ad and I’ve been in recording studios and singing for it as well.

It’s installed a lot of self-belief in myself, which is something so lovely to have as I’d lacked a bit of confidence to talk about my work freely. I’m really grateful and just soaking every day up.

A competition like D&AD gives you that spotlight that’s so hard to achieve unless you’ve been working in the industry for ages, and it gives you that helping hand.

CG: What advice would you give to anyone thinking of entering the D&AD New Blood student awards next year?
CC: I’d say just go for it because, even if you don’t believe in yourself, the chances are that – if you’re good – someone else will see that in you. In an industry where it’s really difficult to get a job, it’s like a golden ticket almost.

CG: Will you enter?!
CC: I’ll see what the briefs are like. I really enjoyed doing it last time, so probably!

CG: Any plans for the future?
CC: I’ve got to write a dissertation for my third year and have decided to do it about poetry in advertising. I want to look at different perspectives and if hard core poets think it’s taking away from the art or a way to let people of every class engage with it. I find it interesting how there’s been a surge of poetry, and how rap music influences it. I listen to a lot of hip hop artists, like Loyle Carner and J. Cole, making a point in how we can change society. 

Otherwise, I’m just seeing how things go and what comes my way.  I know now that I need to be in creative work: whatever that means, I’m up for it basically.

CG: Define what creativity means to you.
CC: It means looking at a problem or a challenge then turning it on its head and being able to find a solution in a non-expected way.  You don’t have to draw a picture to be creative … you could be working in politics and turn something on its head with a different spin. It’s important for different industries to have many different perspectives. 

It’s also freedom of expression, I don’t just use creativity to solve a problem, I also use it as a personal therapy. I use songwriting and poetry as a way to deal with negative emotions by turning them into something beautiful; that process can be quite healing.

You can contact Charlotte at or follow her on Instagram at @chaz_tunessss.

Written by Caroline Gibson, freelance copywriter, as the seventh article in her series of blogs on what creativity means to people blazing the way in their particular field.

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