Chairman's Award 2015

Awarded to Dougal Wilson
Written by
Tony Davidson
Wieden+Kennedy

Every once in a while, a talent comes along with whom everyone in the business wants to work. The recipient of tonight’s award is such a man. I first became aware of his talent via pop promos for the likes of Dizzie Rascal, Benny Benassi, Goldfrapp and Jarvis Cocker. His love of ideas, attention to detail and sense of humour immediately caught my attention.

When I found out that he studied astrophysics at Durham University and started his career as a copywriter at the Leith Agency in Edinburgh, I began to understand why he is so good. He combines scientific preparation with a creative vision for storytelling. It wasn’t long before his commercial work for Orange and John Lewis was winning even more admirers. Like others, I was desperate to work with him, but over the years have singularly failed to get him to take a bite of any of my scripts (clearly the man has taste). Fortunately our agency has had the honour of working with him on several occasions. 

You immediately realise just how committed he is to every job he works on. Thoughtful, ingenious, collaborative and meticulous are words that come to mind. The latter is possibly an understatement. His detailed treatments and storyboards are legendary. If he’s not happy with something, he will test things over and over again, often filming scenes at home on his mobile phone before the shoot; a recent example being a Lurpak job where he convinced himself and us, that he could turn a gas hob into a space rocket. 

He spent over a month living in the Shetland Islands casting a pony and locations for our Three Mobile commercial. He leaves nothing to chance. I remember the creative team showing me a clip of him trotting out every last second of the ad, imitating the pony, including the moonwalk. Whether it’s a dancing couple, life size toys, exploding aubergines, a moon-walking pony, flying shirts, a smitten penguin, or vegetables in space, he will push the idea to its limit without ever compromising the narrative. 

He was awarded Best Music Video Director at the British Music Video Awards twice and has a sack full of Pencils, Lions and Arrows. Despite this he remains egoless, his single driving force being to make every job he does the very best it can be. He’s also principled – not always easy when you’re working in advertising. He turns a lot down, does many charity jobs, travels to locations by boat instead of by air just to do his part in a wasteful industry.

On top of all this, he’s just a very funny, very nice guy - a rare gem indeed. Our industry and his production company, Blink, are fortunate to have the supreme talent that is Dougal Wilson.