Feature

Top 20 creative directors

  • 1. Nick Gill

    1. Nick Gill

  • 2. Ben Priest, Ben Tollett and Emer Stamp

    2. Ben Priest, Ben Tollett and Emer Stamp

  • 3. Paul Brazier

    3. Paul Brazier

  • 4. Robert Saville and Mark Waites

    4. Robert Saville and Mark Waites

  • 5. Darren Bailes

    5. Darren Bailes

  • 6. Nils Leonard

    6. Nils Leonard

  • 7. Emma de la Fosse and Charlie Wilson

    7. Emma de la Fosse and Charlie Wilson

  • 8. Kim Papworth and Tony Davidson

    8. Kim Papworth and Tony Davidson

  • 9. Russell Ramsey

    9. Russell Ramsey

  • 10. Paul Silburn and Kate Stanners

    10. Paul Silburn and Kate Stanners

  • 11. Justin Tindall

    11. Justin Tindall

  • 12. Ben Mooge and Andy Sandoz

    12. Ben Mooge and Andy Sandoz

  • 13. Matt Gooden and Ben Walker

    13. Matt Gooden and Ben Walker

  • 14. Jonathan Burley

    14. Jonathan Burley

  • 15. Nicky Bullard

    15. Nicky Bullard

  • 16. Daniel Bonner

    16. Daniel Bonner

  • 17. Elspeth Lynn

    17. Elspeth Lynn

  • 18. Malcolm Poynton

    18. Malcolm Poynton

  • 19. Laurence Thomson and Rob Doubal

    19. Laurence Thomson and Rob Doubal

  • 20. Caitlin Ryan

    20. Caitlin Ryan

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1. Nick Gill

Gill has done the hat-trick. For the third consecutive year, he is top of the list of creative directors. While the Agency of the Year title eluded Bartle Bogle Hegarty this year – an event that is almost as rare for BBH as winning it is for many of its rivals – the shop remains prolific and the work is consistently of a quality that leaves all but a handful of agencies across the world lagging. Under Gill’s stewardship, BBH continues to show a remarkable quality across a breadth of work.

2. Ben Priest, Ben Tollett and Emer Stamp

Where do you start with these three? Volkswagen "think blue"? Marmite "Love it. Hate it. Just don’t forget it"? John Lewis "the bear and the hare"? Adam & Eve/DDB was undoubtedly one of the hottest UK creative agencies during 2013. The campaigns frequently made national headlines, and all this was achieved in the agency’s first full year post-merger, which is most impressive and credit to the creative leadership that this trio provide.

3. Paul Brazier

Brazier continues to run the UK’s largest creative department with aplomb and, in 2013, he managed to get some of his agency’s clients to take some risks – no mean feat when you consider Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s clients are mostly a conservative bunch. This approach paid off without exception. The first example was a gonzo-style spot for Eurostar, which was unlike anything that came before it or anything in its category. The second was the 50-minute documentary (and the three-minute teaser trailer) about Christmas for Sainsbury’s. In recognition of his 20-year service, he was promoted to chief creative officer.

4. Robert Saville and Mark Waites

Mother continues to produce quirky ads that possess a distinctly British sense of humour. Ikea provided the agency’s biggest hits – in particular, the "make more of your garden" spot that featured gnomes hell-bent on destruction – but the agency also produced some entertaining work for Halfords. In addition to the work, Saville and Waites have stayed true to the agency’s irreverent roots with projects such as rebranding feminism with Elle.

5. Darren Bailes

Fears that VCCP’s Bailes was destined to remain a one-hit wonder were put to rest in 2013 with the release of "be more dog" for O2. This was big advertising that created a big platform – an idea that also become a philosophy that runs through all of O2’s business and which, for the first time, gave the telcoms company a bit of personality. Bailes’ most successful creation – Comparethemarket.com’s Aleksandr Orlov – also made several appearances throughout the year, showing the campaign still has (little furry) legs.

6. Nils Leonard

Grey London’s long-standing reputation for making slightly dull ads was finally and comprehensively consigned to the dustbin this year, and that must be in no small part down to Leonard. His department’s portfolio of work in 2013 also showed great diversity, ranging from amusing print and TV ads for The Sun to a visually rich campaign for Vodafone, as well as a touching spot for the British Heart Foundation.

7. Emma de la Fosse and Charlie Wilson

Married couple and creative team de la Fosse and Wilson added to their already substantial silverware collection in 2013. OgilvyOne was the top-performing UK agency at Cannes, taking home four golds, five silvers and one bronze Lion. The agency also won a gold at Campaign’s Big Awards for its "power of cute" work for the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

8. Kim Papworth and Tony Davidson

It was a strong year for Papworth and Davidson’s creative team at Wieden & Kennedy London. "The pony" for Three was a massive viral hit, and the "hands" ad for Honda and "weave your magic" for Lurpak were two of the most well-crafted spots of 2013. Additionally, the agency’s work for its new client Tesco, putting more emphasis on the provenance of products, was well-received, even if the Christmas spot did fall a little flat.

9. Russell Ramsey

The hard-to-please Ramsey must be doing something right, because JWT was impressive creatively in 2013. Its work for the Territorial Army was superb, while a relaunch for First Direct and a campaign highlighting HSBC’s sponsorship of the British and Irish Lions both showed spark, zeal and an eye for the entertaining. The agency also produced some classy work for Debenhams, including a Christmas spot that held its own among fierce competition.

10. Paul Silburn and Kate Stanners

Silburn and Stanners’ creative efforts at Saatchi & Saatchi helped the golfer Rory McIlroy at least partially redeem himself for his dodgy performance in the Santander ads by pitting him against a mickey-taking robot in a film for the European Tour. They also produced a charming spot called "granddad tourismo" for Visa and captured Kerry Foods’ Richmond account after a competitive pitch.

11. Justin Tindall

As the man in charge of Leo Burnett’s creative output, Tindall has had his hands full keeping up with McDonald’s insatiable appetite for a constant flow of advertising. Amazingly, few of the spots for the fast-food giant missed the mark. Top of the pile was the keenly observed "we all have McDonald’s in common" ad. The agency’s swansong "#publooshocker" for Transport for London (Leo Burnett is not on the Government’s creative roster, and so can no longer work with the department) was also one of its best ever for the client.

12. Ben Mooge and Andy Sandoz

In terms of innovation, 2013 was a quieter year for Work Club’s Mooge and Sandoz. The digital agency was focused on pulling in more big-billing clients to supplement its creatively adventurous ones. A little more cake to go with the cherries, as one source put it. Big wins, including Asda and Desperados, showed they were successful at it too. But the team still found time to create an installation for Carte Noire and a summer campaign for Asda on top of all that pitching.

13. Matt Gooden and Ben Walker

Gooden and Walker have been a much-appreciated disruptive force in the market since setting up Crispin Porter & Bogusky’s London arm. Most of the work this year has been for a single client – but when that client is Paddy Power, that’s no bad thing. The team’s part in dreaming up the idea of getting professional footballers to wear rainbow laces for its "right behind gay footballers" for Paddy Power and Stonewall was brave and inspired.

14. Jonathan Burley

Burley continued to make a case for being the best writer in adland, producing a short novella about Cannes for Campaign while he was holed-up in bed with shingles. As the head of CHI & Partners’ creative team, he brought grandeur to Samsung in its "charge" spot, charm to TalkTalk in "date night" and engagement to Argos with "#nameourbaby" – and the agency claims to have had its best creative year ever.

15. Nicky Bullard

Bullard’s team at Lida was involved in two large campaigns in 2013 – O2’s "be more dog" and Virgin Holidays’ "unleash your mojo" – getting customers to engage after huge TV launches, and she has done much to prove Lida’s creative credentials to doubters.

16. Daniel Bonner

Bonner was promoted to global chief creative officer at Razorfish in 2012, reflecting his status within the digital community. Razorfish put out good work for McDonald’s, as well as a digital gift guide for its new client Argos.

17. Elspeth Lynn

After a long interregnum, Lynn joined M&C Saatchi as its group executive creative director at the start of 2012, but already there are signs that she was a good choice. As well as a massive brand campaign for Virgin Holidays during the summer, more daring and innovative work has started to creep out of M&C Saatchi – for instance, the "house of Peroni" project for the Italian beer brand, which included a physical residency, and a haunting spot for Transport for London.

18. Malcolm Poynton

There is more to SapientNitro than Ladbrokes. Poynton leads a team that innovates at a level comparable to many of its more celebrated digital-agency peers. SapientNitro was the only agency to win a gold Mobile Lion at Cannes this year, for its "get cash" work for the Royal Bank of Scotland. The agency also has a fine innovation culture. One example was the Social Stock Ticker, which allows chief executives to track what is said about their business online.

19. Laurence Thomson and Rob Doubal

Doubal and Thomson were given a big job to do when they joined McCann in 2012: lift the London agency from a solid but rather uninspiring performer into something more dynamic. The pair have restructured the agency to put creativity at the forefront and capped the year with a beautifully shot follow-up to "balls" for Sony.

20. Caitlin Ryan

Self-confessed "chippy Aussie" Ryan joined Karmarama as group executive creative director in March from Proximity, where she had been since 1998. Since her arrival, the agency has been on a pitch-winning streak. New accounts include Grolsch and Cobra, Jamie’s Italian and Virgin Active. Early indications are that the creative work on these businesses could take Karmarama’s reputation to the next level.

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