Walter Campbell, a founder of Campbell Doyle Dye, compares Jonathan Glazer's directing style to the skill of a football striker: "Jonathan is a great three-dimensional thinker. He looks at all the options, the tactics, guessing the game out. He is always thinking: 'How can I score the goal of the season?' He wants to get the crowd on their feet."
Last week, the British Television Advertising Awards acknowledged Glazer's success by handing him the chairman's award for outstanding contribution to the commercials industry.
"He's a very modest man," Nick Morris, his long-time friend and producer at Academy Films, says. "He's always pleased to get accolades and be appreciated. But that's not his prime motivation."
Glazer, a fan of Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa, is tied up in New York shooting his second feature film, Birth, starring Nicole Kidman and Lauren Bacall.
These days Glazer can cherry-pick which ads he works on and focus on feature films. His career was catapulted forward thanks in large part to the success of spots including Nike "parklife" and Guinness "swimblack" and "surfer".
Campbell, who worked with Glazer on Guinness while he was at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, says: "I knew he could get his teeth into the story/epic-style of the ads - you could see he was heading to film and that worked for the ads."
While Glazer was off shooting his first feature film, Sexy Beast, Frank Budgen stepped in to direct the third Guinness ad, "snails". The two, according to Campbell, couldn't have been more different.
"Frank is like a grandmaster at chess, very focused, everything is in his head. Jonathan is different in his methods. He has some of the spontaneity and recklessness of a Tony Kaye. A dynamic approach where he will do anything to make it better - music, typography, casting. He sees all elements as being as important as each other."
Morris says: "When you let him look at your idea you have to have the same amount of courage he has. For him the process is evolutionary, right up until the last minute everything could be changed."
Campbell experienced Glazer's single-minded approach to finding the perfect actor for "swimblack". The brief was for a "physical Picasso" and casting was conducted among ex-circus performers and gymnasts. Several actors were shortlisted, but Glazer was unsatisfied and only found the right person, a local from a Tuscan village, the day before the shoot began.
"For most people it would have been difficult to hold their fire on such a call, most would have settled for someone else to get the shoot going," Campbell explains.
"He is intense in his attention to detail. Jonathan would get angry with himself, never others. He is always saying 'it could have been better', even on 'surfer' he talked about how it could have been better," Yvonne Chalkley, the deputy head of television at AMV, says.
Glazer is a slow worker. Even when devoting all of his time to making ads, he would only do about three a year. But his intense approach has produced one of the most enviable list of credits around, including Levi's "odyssey", last year's gold winner at BTAA.
Morris has known Glazer since "he had a crappy showreel of corporate films" more than a decade ago. Seeing "the man not the reel", Morris employed him at Academy, of which Glazer is now a partner, in 1993 where he started out directing music videos.
It was in the mid-90s that he began to be noticed at award level for video work for bands including Radiohead and Jamiroquai. From there came the ad career, a stepping stone to movie-making.
So does Morris think Glazer will turn his back on television advertising now his career in film is gaining real momentum?
"He will definitely still make ads," he says. "Jonathan has no desire to hurry feature films. He isn't passing time with TV and there are still challenges for him."