The Black List at the D&AD New Blood Awards 2021 
by Quintus Potgieter, Editorial Manager, What's Possible Group

Osagie Samuel, an award-winning creative director, discusses his recent successes at the D&AD New Blood Awards and reminisces about his career at The Specialist Works and the What’s Possible Group. 

25th October 2021 Read time: 4 minutes
Osagie Samuel is an award-winning Creative Director with a rich decade-long history at The Specialist Works, part of the What’s Possible Group. He was recently awarded the prestigious D&AD New Blood Award for his collaborative work on a brief to the School of Communication Arts 2.0 from Penguin.  
The project reimagines the role of books for young readers and engages them with more diverse and inclusive authors. The statistic that inspired the project was that 40% of GCSE students couldn’t find books they could identify with.  
It was a brief that I could relate to,” Osagie said. “I grew up on the 13th floor of a council estate tower block in London, experiencing both the frustration of youth with low expectations and the power of books as a gateway to worlds”. 
Watch the award-winning video here: 

This month, we celebrate Osagie as a member of our What’s Possible Community of creative, growth-minded marketers who have a deep passion for diversity and inclusion in the marketing industry. 

Where it all started  

Originally, Osagie was in a video editor role at The Specialist Works but soon pivoted to a creative position. He excelled and worked his way up to the role of Creative Director.  
Over the course of his career, Osagie has transitioned from working on direct response TV ads to more proposition and idea-led comms. He’s proud of his work over the years, sometimes delivered with smaller budgets and tight turnarounds.  
Osagie has overseen and directed TV spots and content for Dyson, Angry Birds, TikTok, Alibaba Cloud, and many others.  
To further build on his professional development as a creative director, Osagie enrolled for a course through the School of Communication Arts 2.0 (SCA 2.0). For years he admired the institute from afar and marvelled at the work their alumni produced.  
The work was always strategic, unexpected and culturally relevant, not to mention responsive. I’d wanted to get to grips with ‘creative strategy’ for ages and found that this was the best course for it,” Osagie said.  
When the pandemic hit, SCA 2.0 made their course available online – for Osagie, it was a no-brainer; he had to enrol.  
He encourages those who want to get their break in marketing and advertising to start with whatever they have at their disposal.  
With social media, smartphones, platforms and tech – give yourself an edge by getting your voice into the world. It doesn’t have to be perfect; some of the best lessons are in failure. Side projects are often as interesting as a solid CV,” he said.   

The Black List  

The Black List won the Black, White and Yellow Pencils at the D&AD New Blood Awards 2021.  
The team were initially aiming for the coveted Yellow Pencil but walked away with all three. The adjudicators for the awards are some of the biggest names in advertising.   
Penguin’s brief to SCA 2.0 asked a simple question: ‘how do we get teenagers to read?’ 
Osagie and the team had a simple answer: ‘tell them they’re not allowed to.’  
The Black List was born out of the thought that a non-diverse curriculum was acting like a censor – so we positioned these great and diverse but ‘non-canon’ books as something illicit,” Osagie explained.  
A still from the award-winning video from a creative director at the What's Possible Group worked on
Tapping into his love of music, Osagie began writing the lyrics that would narrate the project.  
As I was a budding grime and hop-hop MC in a pre-The Specialist Works life, it was great fun to write the lyrics,” he remarked.  
He says the grime narration added relevancy and urgency; it’s a musical genre that teenagers immerse themselves in. They positioned the journey through the eyes of a GCSE student, showing the campaign unfolding across social media and OOH (out of home) and then as a powerful in-school activation.  
To wrap it all up, they would position it as a movement to lobby the government to change the curriculum while empowering young people to explore writing as self-expression and calling them to submit their own work for publication. 

Writing new chapters in the industry 

Osagie is on to his next big adventure after ten fruitful years working alongside The Specialist Works and the What’s Possible Group.  
He’ll be working with creative agencies producing work for some major brands. A father of two children (a 5-year-old and an 11-month-old), one thing he is confident of is that he won’t be getting much sleep any time soon.  
Osagie’s career so far is a testament to his devotion to marketing and advertising, buoyed by his creativity. He wants to see the industry do better by hiring a diverse staff and showing their commitment to empowering those diverse voices in their organisations. 
A still from the Black List video made by Osagie Samuel the award-winning creative director
In the spirit of Black History Month, Osagie has some advice for black creatives who are looking to get a start in the advertising industry:  
The advice I’d give black students in marketing? Bust down doors, optimistically. Don’t be afraid to bother people into giving you advice – the ad industry is, for the most part, quite progressive and wants to do the right thing. Don’t be afraid to be YOU. Your life experience is unique, so why blend in when you can bring a different perspective? Think big and bring your authentic self to work. If they don’t like it, f**k ‘em. Find a place that does”.