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Q&A with Claire Parker about the ADCN Awards

Claire Parker, Executive Creative Director in our Amsterdam studio, chaired this year’s Product & Packaging design jury of the ADCN Awards which took place on Tuesday 7th April. She was also a member of the Integrated and Grand Prix jury.

Claire Parker

The ADCN is the Association for Creativity in Advertising and Design in the Netherlands. Its mission is to develop the best creative collective in the world: unleash creativity; stimulate excellence and kick-start innovation in communications in the Netherlands. In line with this, the ADCN Awards judges the finest minds and craftsmen in communications with the Advertising, Design and Craft Lampen.

Prior to the judging sessions, Claire was interviewed by the ADCN for an article on their website. Claire said: “I’m looking forward to reviewing this year’s entries and seeing how our industry has once again raised the bar on great creativity. As a jury I hope we can champion the value of design, celebrate the beauty and the craft but understand that the truth at the heart of it is great ideas.” 

Here’s a lovely video presenting the judging sessions, and we‘re sharing the interview with Claire below:

Which trends do you observe in product innovation and packaging design? Any new connections to the world of digital/technology?

In an industry transformed by new media, packaging design still represents the toughest creative challenge. For packaging, which has only one sensory dimension, the idea has to work hardest. Originality, simplicity and surprise need to combine to create a singular emotional moment.

Which design work has inspired you at Cannes in the past year? And why? 

I was inspired by the power of what design can do. There were so many diverse categories and entries you could not fail to be awed, but the skill of designers and the dedication and craft that comes into play from annual report to own brand packaging and everything in-between. Particular pieces that stay with me are the Calgary Zoo annual report which was done through Instagram, Colgate oral health education posters for Myanmar – using the inside of secondary packaging as posters that schools with very little money for materials could use in class. Absolut Originality, where every bottle of has a drop of cobalt blue infused into its glass. The Mother Book, a stunning sculptural book that charted the weeks from conception to birth in a simple, engaging and unique way… there were so many things that were both inspiring to see but also caused a slight pang of envy!

The Motherbook

The Motherbook

Colgate ADCN Piece

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity makes everything better. Creative people are different, somehow managing to see the world from another perspective.

ADCN Judges

Which Design Bridge work are you really proud of and why?

I’m most proud of the work that doesn’t get seen, the small steps made by designers as they bring an idea to life. The break through moments; when you see how your contribution has made a real difference to someone. I know it sounds a bit cheesy but those are the really outstanding moments that stick with me.

Could you share a story about a project in which craft and craft makers were key?

Johnnie Walker is a progressive luxury whisky brand that delivers on big bold flavours. Our brief was to tell the story of big bold flavours across the world of gifting, where stand out on shelf is everything.

In collaboration with paper sculpture artists, The Makerie Studio, we created flavour profile ‘stages’ that allow the viewer to not just spectate, but step into the world of big bold flavours. Progress is seen visually and physically through the new dimension and craft brought to this iconic mark. The striding man is seen to be orchestrating the big bold flavours, enveloping, bold, dynamic forms, moving through and around him. Each stage capturing the energy and flavour profile of the unique whiskies.

Johnnie Walker Makerie Girls x3 straight

What’s your key source of inspiration for new ideas?

Everyone and everything. You never know where the next idea will come from so you have to be open and inquisitive across all aspects of life. Be inspired by awards and the work that you see around you, but you have to search out the fuel for ideas in the most unlikely places. You have to make your mind into an attic, packed full of information that you can draw upon to when the need arises.

Which are the key challenges in working with marketing managers on the client side? What can we learn from them, and what could we teach them in return? How can we smoothen the creative process and execution between the two parties?

Empathy and understanding is key. We can always learn more about the category and business they are in to understand the wider context of their brand. If we don’t understand that, how can we be expected to create work that is effective and distinctive to the brand?

The creative process needs discussion and debate, and we listen well! Clients want to hear our ideas, but they also want us to listen too. Although hearing is part of our everyday experience, active listening is a skill we can all get better at. Of course the flip side of listening is questioning, being able to ask meaningful and relevant questions prompts more information.

The ability to give positive and negative feedback is a key factor in creating trusting relationships too, so never be afraid to tell it like it is – just remember to do it nicely. Obviously positive feedback is easy to give, negative feedback needs consideration and a clear motivation as to what isn’t working for the client.

And be open and transparent to the journey we are on together by ensuring we are all clear on the process; what is going to happen, when it will happen, what their roles and expectations are. Leave assumptions aside and start with everyone having a clear and shared understanding on the approach and what to expect every step of the way.

But most of all show you care.


Here’s a link to the website of the ADCN where you can see this year’s award winners.

by Anna Stanford

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