15 Transformative Creative Ideas That Changed the World Over the Past Year

All the winners from the D&AD Impact Awards

Leo Burnett's #Undress522 campaign aimed to abolish a Lebanese law exonerating rapists if they married their victims.
Headshot of Tim Nudd

Purpose-based advertising has delivered some of the most powerful work of the past years, with campaigns like “Fearless Girl” from State Street Global Advisors and “Boost Your Voice” by Boost Mobile dominating recent award shows.

On Tuesday night in New York, Advertising Week and D&AD honored scores of purpose-based campaigns with the second annual D&AD Impact Awards, recognizing creative ideas that have had real impact and, ultimately, contribute toward a better and more sustainable future in which purpose is aligned with profit.

Prizes were awarded across 12 categories, ranging from environmental sustainability to financial empowerment and humanitarian aid. The categories reflect the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to align the creative industries with real global issues. The juries considered three criteria—that the campaign have an original and innovative idea at its core; clear and measurable impact in its chosen category; and relevance to the business’s commercial needs.

In all, 98 Pencils were handed out. The D&AD gives out Black, White, Graphite and Wood Pencils—roughly equivalent to Grand Prix, gold, silver and bronze.

Three Black Pencils, reserved for truly game-changing work, went to the following campaigns:

Agency: McCann New York
Client: State Street Global Advisors
Campaign: Fearless Girl
Category: Diversity & Equality


Agency: McCann Worldgroup India
Client: The Ministry of Public Health Afghanistan
Campaign: The Immunity Charm
Category: Health & Wellness


Agency: J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam
Client: Free a Girl Movement
Campaign: School for Justice
Category: Education


Some 13 White Pencils were handed out, with “Fearless Girl” being the only campaign to win both a Black Pencil and a White Pencil. Here are the White Pencil winners:

Agency: The Classic Partnership Advertising
Client: Medcare Women & Children’s Hospital
Campaign: Footnote For The Breast
Category: Civic Engagement


Agency: Freundliche Grüsse
Client: Public Eye
Campaign: Return to Sender
Category: Environmental Sustainability


Agency: Serviceplan/Serviceplan Korea
Client: Dot Incorporation
Campaign: Dot. The first Braille Smartwatch.
Category: Communication & Interaction


Agency: Area 23, An FCB Health Network Company
Campaign: The Trafficking Exam
Category: Communication & Interaction


Agency: Leo Burnett Beirut
Client: ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality
Campaign: #Undress522
Category: Community


Agency: FCB Canada
Client: Canadian Down Syndrome Society
Campaign: Down Syndrome Answers
Category: Community


Agency: J Walter Thompson New York
Client: Black Lives Matter
Campaign: Unsafety Check
Category: Diversity & Equality


Agency: 180LA
Client: Boost Mobile
Campaign: Boost Your Voice
Category: Diversity & Equality


Agency: Serviceplan/Plan.Net
Client: Plan.Net
Campaign: WhatsGerman
Category: Education


Agency: Cossette
Client: SickKids Foundation
Campaign: SickKids VS
Category: Health & Wellness


Agency: POL
Client: TV-Aksjonen NRK & Red Cross Norway in partnership with IKEA
Campaign: 25m2 SYRIA
Category: Humanitarian Aid


Agency: McCann New York
Client: State Street Global Advisors
Campaign: Fearless Girl
Category: Industry Evolution


Agency: J. Walter Thompson London
Client: Shell
Campaign: Gravity Light
Category: Urban Living


“In today’s uncertain political times, the role that businesses and brands play in shaping and influencing the world cannot be overlooked,” said D&AD CEO Tim Lindsay. “The need for world-changing creativity and campaigns has become more important than ever. Consumers and citizens demand accountability and action. This year, our mission was not to acknowledge and celebrate, but to highlight the opportunity businesses have to harness the power of creativity as a force for good and galvanize real change to improve our society.”

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.