ADAM CHIAPPE & MATT SAUNBY - Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Biog: In our search for future executive creative directors, this pair are two of the few on our shortlist who did not attend Watford or Bucks. Chiappe and Saunby met while studying graphics at Central Saint Martins. After a very fortunate "right place, right time" moment (the place being the office next to John Hegarty's on a placement at Bartle Bogle Hegarty), the pair secured jobs and remained at BBH for eight years.
After stints at Grey London, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy and TBWA, they landed at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in 2008. There, they work across Sainsbury's, Clarks and Unicef.
Pick of their awards: Gold Cannes Lion for Levi's "sculptures" and Xbox "ear tennis". Two D&AD yellow Pencils for Audi "Hendrix" and a silver Clio for Nissan "Qashqai car games".
Strengths: Never afraid to take an unconventional approach, this team have already proven they're capable of producing top-notch non-traditional work, which puts them in good stead to take creative leadership of a future-facing agency.
Weaknesses: With some accusing them of arrogance, they need to produce a high-profile campaign while at AMV to prove they're not all talk and no trousers.
Favourite ad: "We haven't made it yet."
SAM OLIVER & SHISHIR PATEL - DDB London
Biog: After pairing up and graduating from Watford, this pair's book came under the gaze of Patrick Collister at Kendall Tarrant's Cream exhibition. He snapped them up to work at Ogilvy, where they cut their teeth on global briefs for Unilever.
After three years, the pair defected to DDB, where they have remained since. There, they have carved a niche as one of the best traditional creative teams around.
Pick of their awards: A gold Cannes Lion, two British Television Advertising Awards silvers and a Campaign Big Award (among others) for Volkswagen Golf "night drive". A bronze Lion for Marmite "blob" and two Campaign Press Awards for Marmite and The Guardian.
Strengths: Under the nurturing wing of DDB, this team have flourished into one of the most-awarded UK teams in our list, with a wealth of top-notch TV and print work on some top clients.
Weaknesses: With a body of work confined to traditional media, they'll need to prove their abilities as media-neutral thinkers, and gain some exposure to trickier clients if the ECD role is to beckon.
Favourite ad: VW "night drive".
SEAN THOMPSON - 180 Amsterdam
Biog: Making his first footsteps into advertising after winning a "week in advertising" competition while at college in Newcastle, Thompson began his career in earnest at CDP in 1986.
Since then, he has been at just about every shop in town, including Simons Palmer, Mother, Fallon, AMV, DDB and Wieden & Kennedy, in either permanent or freelance capacities. 180 Amsterdam scooped him up in 2003 and he's been heading up Adidas since.
Pick of his awards: Cannes Grand Prix and two D&AD black Pencils for Honda "grrr" and 13 D&AD yellow Pencils amassed over his career.
Strengths: One of the most experienced of the creatives in this list, Thompson has an excellent balance of creative work and experience working in media-neutral and foreign agencies that put him in pole position for an ECD role.
Weaknesses: Despite having the gravitas and breadth of work needed, the unassuming Thompson perhaps lacks a touch of showmanship, so he'll need a good team around him to shore up his leadership.
Favourite ad: Honda "grrr".
ROB POTTS & ANDY JEX - Saatchi & Saatchi
Biog: Having met at Watford, this pair completed ten placements around town, giving them their pick of job offers. After plumping for DDB, the pair then followed Richard Flintham and Andy McLeod to Fallon. After five years there, their next step was to Mother, where they spent a further five years creating some of their best work, before finally being poached by Saatchi & Saatchi in March this year, where they work across Carlsberg, Cadbury and T-Mobile.
Pick of their awards: Two D&AD yellow Pencils for BBC 1Xtra "street music" and their work on Sony Walkman. BTAA silver awards for Pot Noodle "miners" and Xfm "baby roadies".
Strengths: They've got a fantastic creative pedigree and now they're at Saatchis, they'll get the experience they need working with some bigger global clients.
Weaknesses: Having spent a long time at Mother (where teams tend to get little exposure or ownership over client relationships), this pair will need to gain confidence and build their client-facing experience if they're going to climb the ladder.
Favourite ad: Radio 1Xtra "street music".
SIMON LABBETT & DAVID GAMBLE - Saint
Biog: This pair go way back. To swimming lessons aged six, in fact. Ending up at the same college and university, they always had it in their minds to work together.
After being handed six job offers, Labbett and Gamble took on their first industry roles at Ogilvy, which hired them as a digital creative team. After Ogilvy, there was a stint at Circus before they joined Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R in 2001. The pair then went on to set up the Y&R test agency 2.1, and later RKCR/Y&R's digital off-shoot, Saint, which is now three years old.
Pick of their awards: Grand Prix at IPA Effectiveness Awards for COI crime reduction campaign, Cannes Lion finalist (online ads) for Virgin Mobile "bash the bishop", and five D&AD merits across work for Guinness, Hoover and crime reduction.
Strengths: With a web-design background and experience working in a traditional agency environment, not to mention setting up and running a business, this team have an ideal package of cross-channel thinking and practical commercial experience.
Weaknesses: Given that they have been busy building a business, Labbett and Gamble don't have the same type of famous creative work as the other teams. Their portfolio, although varied, may work against them if an agency is looking for the "wow" factor.
Favourite ad: Guinness' first-ever website.
MATT DOMAN & IAN HEARTFIELD - Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Biog: Restless ambition was a phrase made for this team, who have steadily climbed the ranks. After pairing up at Bucks college, they secured their first industry jobs at McCann Erickson.
From there, they moved to Ogilvy for a five-year stint, then MCBD for a briefer spell, before settling at AMV for a three-year spell, where they produced their most acclaimed work to date on Guinness.
BMB poached the duo in 2008 from Fallon, where they had been for 18 months.
Pick of their awards: The Gunn Report's most-awarded team in 2006, they've scooped a Grand Prix at Cannes and the One Show, a yellow Pencil for Guinness "noitulove", and a gold at the Campaign Poster Awards for The Economist "you can so tell" and "voted best mortgage provider".
Strengths: Currently rumoured to be after a top job, this talented team certainly have the ambition to achieve their goal. What's more, they've had a fair bit of experience leading teams. This prepares them for a role holding the reins, rather than initiating the creative ideas.
Weaknesses: Their body of work does not scream "integrated", and with agencies vying for holistic thinkers, this team need another string to their bow. They also need to shift the "introvert" tag they seemed to have picked up.
Favourite ad: Guinness "noitulove".
CHRIS BOVILL & JOHN ALLISON - Fallon
Biog: After being "forced" to pair up at Manchester Metropolitan University (they were the only two on their design direction course aiming to get into advertising), this pair's relationship has proven pretty fruitful. After a slow start - a year of eating baked beans and doing market research jobs - Bovill and Allison got their lucky break when Trevor Beattie spotted their talent at a Cream exhibition and welcomed them into the TBWA fold. After a six-year innings, the pair joined Fallon, where they have been working across Skoda, Cadbury, Budweiser and More Th>n.
Pick of their awards: A gold Lion at Cannes, a yellow Pencil, a gold Campaign Big Award and five gold BTAAs for Skoda "cake". Two yellow Pencils, a gold Lion and a gold BTAA for John Smith's "babies".
Strengths: This modest and down-to-earth pair have chosen their career moves well, gaining a solid grounding and an award-winning portfolio working under the best ECDs around.
Weaknesses: Although they've had experience creatively leading projects for a few clients, as one of the youngest and least experienced teams on the list, they've still got a lot to learn before they'll be ready for the top job - watch this space.
Favourite ad: Skoda "cake".
BEN TOLLETT & EMER STAMP - Adam & Eve
Biog: Tollett and Stamp began their careers with different partners, Tollett at Kessels-Kramer and Stamp at Banks Hoggins O'Shea. After splitting from their respective partners, this duo met for a confab at the Centre Point bar, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Three months later, they were hired by Leagas Delaney, where they remained for two years, before moving to MCBD, and then DDB. The pair were then poached to join Adam & Eve as the founding creative team last year and have since helped secure the John Lewis account.
Pick of their awards: Two Creative Circle golds for work on Travelocity, two Campaign Press Award golds for Millets "long list" and Harvey Nichols "womenswear", and a BTAA silver for VW "Channel 4 documentary idents".
Strengths: Having left the rarefied environment at DDB, this pair have had exposure to the real commerciality of the business of being in a start-up, thereby bolstering their CVs with prime ECD skills.
Weaknesses: With aspirations to move into an ECD role together, in the same manner as Wieden & Kennedy's Tony Davidson and Kim Papworth, this pair may have to face recessionary reality and entertain the thought of going their separate ways.
Favourite ad: "We don't have a favourite."
1. Sean Thompson - Honda,'grrr'
2. Adam Chiappe & Matt Saunby - Xbox,'ear tennis'
3. Sam Oliver & Shishir Patel - VW,'night drive'
4. Rob Potts & Andy Jex - Radio 1Xtra,'street music'
5. Chris Bovill & John Allison - Skoda,'cake'
6. Ben Tollett & Emer Stamp - Harvey Nichols,'womenswear'
7. Simon Labbett & David Gamble - COI crime reduction, 'don't advertise
your home to thieves'
8. Matt Doman & Ian Heartfield - Guinness,'noitulove'