Vietnamese students receive rarest accolade in lauded international creativity competition

Vietnamese students receive rarest accolade in lauded international creativity competition

The campaign “Put a helmet on like ô” scored a triple win, including the highest Black Pencil prize, at the D&AD New Blood Awards 2023 for promoting road safety for Vietnamese children.

An original idea by RMIT Vietnam student Nguyen Khac Hai Linh and Foreign Trade University student Nguyen Ngoc Nha Quynh, “Put a helmet on like ô” won a Black, White and Yellow Pencils in the global D&AD New Blood Awards.

To win a Black Pencil is a rare and high accolade in the creative industry. This is, in fact, the first time a team from the Asia Pacific region has won a Black Pencil, which comes with a prize money of 2,000 British pounds.

In addition, a team of six RMIT School of Communications & Design students and recent graduates won a Wood Pencil for their project “Oopsie!”.

RMIT lecturers, winners and their friends gathered in Ho Chi Minh City to watch the livestream of the awards ceremony in the early morning of 7 July 2023. RMIT lecturers, winners and their friends gathered in Ho Chi Minh City to watch the livestream of the awards ceremony in the early morning of 7 July 2023.

D&AD New Blood Awards is one of the most reputable and high-calibre competitions in advertising and design in the world.

The competition is open to students, recent graduates, and emerging creatives. Entrants are given briefs set by well-established companies and their final projects are judged by experts from the creative industry.

This year, the briefs were set by brands such as OMO, Candy Crush, Duolingo, Google Fonts, eBay, Heineken, and HP, to name a few. There was a focus on tackling commercial and social challenges across a range of disciplines, including UX/UI, gaming, animation, advertising, typography and public relations.

From over 3,000 entries by 6,000 participants, 179 top prizes (called Pencils) were awarded this year. They comprise – in order of prestige – two Black, seven White, 33 Yellow, 39 Graphite and 98 Wood Pencils.

A poster showing 1000 o letters Instead of showing the number of 1000 children who die every year for not wearing a helmet, Linh and Quynh created a typography design of 1000 letters 'o' without a circumflex to show the devastating fact.

Triple-awarded “Put the helmet on like ô” was created in response to a brief given by Google Fonts and the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (HMCT).

The campaign addressed the fact that 2,000 Vietnamese children die every year due to road accidents, half of which could have been prevented by wearing a helmet.

By using typography, the project plays on the similarity between the circumflex in the Vietnamese letter “ô” and a helmet.

“A lesson every Vietnamese is taught when learning the alphabet is that ‘o' doesn't put on a helmet, ‘ô' always puts on a helmet,” RMIT Professional Communication student Nguyen Khac Hai Linh explained.

“Our campaign leaves parents and children with a message: putting on a helmet like "ô" could make a big difference.”

Linh reflected on the working process: "Usually we brainstorm ideas on an A3 pad and start with a one-line brief in the middle. But for D&AD, we drew the flag of Vietnam in the centre of each page instead. That reminded us to put the people of Vietnam at the heart of our work.”

Linh’s teammate, Foreign Trade University External Economics student Nguyen Ngoc Nha Quynh said: "The biggest reward, though, was not the Pencils. It was when a father of three came to us and said he bought his children each a helmet after seeing our work. Nothing brings more joy than knowing your work makes an impact on someone's life.”

Oopsie interface “Oopsie!” is the joint creation of Ly Du Khanh Han, Nguyen Quy Nhat Ha, Nguyen Bao Ngoc, Vu Khanh Ngoc, Tran Hiep Dat, and Dang Minh Tan.

Meanwhile, Wood Pencil-winning “Oopsie!” is a mobile collection of gamified short comics about the funny ups and downs moments in parenthood.

By encouraging positivity and connectedness through shared experiences, it helps mothers and fathers with self-blame come to terms with the fact that making mistakes is okay.

The playing experience of “Oopsie!” is designed to fit into parents’ busy daily routines – bite-sized chapters, playable with one hand, and convenient to pause anytime. Players can also submit their personal stories to the app to be made into new inspiring comics for others.

The project, with a playable prototype available online, took the group around five months to complete.

RMIT Bachelor of Design (Digital Media) fresh graduate Ly Du Khanh Han, a member of the creative team behind “Oopsie!”, said: “It was our first time being in a competitive environment, not to mention the grand scale of D&AD. We didn’t realise how much research and effort it would take to successfully fulfill the brief, and our team had to pick up a lot of new skills along the way.”

“Watching the awards ceremony live from a rooftop in Ho Chi Minh City was the perfect ending to our story. We wanted to conclude this project the same way it started – being surrounded by great support from our peers and mentors,” she recalled.

Last year, two RMIT Vietnam students were also part of the team to win the very first D&AD New Blood Pencil for Vietnam. Several Pencil winning students have been offered jobs and internships based on their wins, including in some of the biggest agencies in Vietnam such as MullenLowe Mishra and Happiness Saigon.

Story: Ngoc Hoang and Dr Soumik Parida

  • Achievements
  • Digital media

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