1. Dougal Wilson
One of the most sought-after directors in town, Blink’s Wilson can extract a heart-rending performance from anyone – even a snowman. The Scot’s direction has graced some of the year’s best ads, including Ikea’s "Playin’ With My Friends", Lurpak’s "rainbow" and the John Lewis Christmas spot. Astrophysics’ loss (he studied it at Durham University before starting his career as a copywriter) is the advertising world’s gain.
2. Ringan Ledwidge
Ledwidge proved his genius once again this year. The Rattling Stick director was as prolific as ever, shooting two Hollywood heavyweights, namely Kevin Bacon for EE and Kiefer Sutherland for an Axe spot in the US. But the highlight of his year was the brilliant Guardian "three little pigs" spot, which deservedly picked up a gold Lion and five silvers at Cannes.
3. Tom Tagholm
Consider Tagholm’s directing chops well and truly flexed with his star turn on one of the best TV ads of 2012. The outstanding "meet the superhumans" spot for Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage, which he both created and shot, seemed to effortlessly triumph over the rest of the London 2012 contenders and promises many more exciting things to come from the former head of 4Creative.
4. Si & Ad
Academy’s Si & Ad have been working as a directing duo for more than a decade, having first met as designers at Virgin Records. They started out in music videos but have since proved themselves a formidable force in advertising. This year was one of their busiest. Highlights include the extremely charming Thinkbox "Harvey & Rabbit" spot, the very funny Trainline ad, the award-winning Durex work and the beautifully shot Morrisons Christmas campaign.
5. Alejandro González Iñárritu
Anonymous Content’s González Iñárritu has gained worldwide acclaim for his films, such as Babel and 21 Grams, so appearing on this list might not mean much to the Mexican director. Nonetheless, it must be said the commercial world is a better place with him in it. This year, we saw González Inárritu’s rendering of mothers’ devotion to their children in the emotionally charged Procter & Gamble "best job" spot. And his direction was the only good thing about that dire Facebook ad.
6. Tom Kuntz
The celebrated director at MJZ was in fine form in 2012, stoking up some highly destructive boy/girl chemistry for the Lynx "chain" spot. He also turned his hand to the fun Cadbury "Joyville" ad and teamed up with Old Spice once again for "muscle music". His reel, as ever, fizzed with energy and colour this year.
7. Ivan Zacharias
Zacharias had a lot of fun with the likes of Megan Fox and Kiefer Sutherland this year, extracting pitch-perfect comedy performances from the Hollywood stars for Acer’s global spots. The multi-award-winning Stink director also brought his considerable talent to some Volkswagen work, including the "see film differently" campaign.
8. Chris Palmer
The prolific Palmer, who has shot some of the best-loved ads of recent times, had a quieter year as far as advertising was concerned. The director at Gorgeous shot the high-octane "cops and robbers" ad for Lynx and made a welcome reappearance towards the end of the year for the Barclaycard "toys" spot, which immersed its audience in a shop populated by living toys.
9. Bentio Montorio
Montorio, who started his career as a documentary-maker, has mastered the art of the TV spot. This year, the Blink director brought drama and intensity to a powerful piece of film for St John Ambulance. His portrayal of a man battling with cancer was so absorbing that the twist at the end would have surprised even the most astute viewer.
10. Adam Berg
Berg did a mighty fine job of knitting together CGI with live action for Toyota’s "the real deal" spot this year. But Nike’s "my time is now" film must have tested his nerve. It saw some of the biggest names from the world of football in a France vs Holland match, only to be interrupted by crowds of young players invading the pitch. The star players featured include Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Franck Ribéry, Wesley Sneijder and Gerard Piqué. Needless to say, the Stink director managed to carry it off with aplomb.