The Annual 2004: The Year in ... Creative

Jeremy Craigen regrets to inform adland that it's been a bad year for creative, and the most innovative stuff is coming from overseas.

When Campaign rings you up and asks for a favour you never say no. You say: "Yes, what favour can I do for the lovely Campaign?" So when I was asked to write a 900-word article on the year's events in creative to appear in the Campaign Annual, I answered with an ashen-faced: "It would be my pleasure." But 900 words? My problem is that it was only the middle of October in one of the most mediocre years in advertising.

I mean, so very little has happened. No new Southern Hemisphere creative directors have arrived here - in fact, one has left. There have been no big team defections, and no new creative teams are catching the eye.

Probably one of the biggest stories to emerge in 2004 was my pal and partner, Ewan Paterson, leaving for Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Campaign ran an article following his resignation entitled: "Are two creative directors better than one?" It really should have read: "Who wants to be a creative director? I don't."

Anyway, like I said, I'm writing this in the middle of October and things will get better. You see the middle of October is the time of year when the first call for entries for various awards shows arrive in the post. It's the time of year when creative directors across the globe think: "Is that all we've got to enter?" The time of year when every ad in pre-production is probably the agency's last chance to shine - so no screwing up this time.

And then, of course, there's the Christmas rush. Those commercials planned to first appear in March but that magically appear around late December. At 4.00am. In Yorkshire. So I think I can safely say things will improve before the year's up.

But what of the work up to this point? When I was briefed to write this piece, the first thing I did was e-mail the creative department. They always help me out in a crisis.

Any idea what the good ideas were this year, I asked. Their silence spoke volumes, but those that did reply were in agreement.

The new Lynx commercial from BBH, "getting dressed", was one of the better moments of the year. What I love about it is that it follows the rules of the campaign - wear Lynx, get a shag - and yet breaks them in the way it tells the story. It's stylish, sophisticated and restrained. Not something you'd expect from Lynx. Or Nick Gill.

I also love the iPod print campaign. It proves that great work doesn't have to be an "idea" in the traditional sense and that sheer attitude and confidence can sometimes be enough. A case of TBWA\Chiat\Day and Apple yet again thinking different.

Then there was Jung von Matt's work for the Protestant Church of Germany.

This idea consisted of huge, inflatable churches that were taken out to local shopping malls, golf courses, even McDonald's. If you couldn't make it to the church on Sunday, then the church would make it to you.

TBWA\Japan's Vertical Football poster for Adidas was another high. Literally.

This ad featured two people kicking a football around, suspended from a poster 500 feet off the ground. One poster, $150 million of media money.

The Beta-7 campaign for Sega, out of Wieden & Kennedy New York, was another campaign that generated huge media interest. They ran a fake story on the internet about a guy employed to test a new part of Sega's American Football game, with very strange results. Words can't do it justice so I suggest you check it out at

So these are my top five ideas and if I had to stretch to ten like Campaign, I would include Mother's brilliant cinema campaign for Orange, still going strong in its second year.

M&C Saatchi's startling ad for Road Safety, "cribs", showing how a girl's life might have been if she hadn't been killed by a car; Crispin Porter & Bogusky's bizarre "subservient chicken" website for Burger King; our own Euro 2004 spot "divers" for The Guardian (I'm allowing myself to nominate this as I'm not the creative director on the account) and finally an idea Justin Tindall brought back from his travels while judging in Singapore (poor thing).

The idea was for the Cancer Society of Singapore. It's a candle in the shape of a man with the wick of the candle positioned in the man's mouth. Light the candle and the man slowly melts away before your eyes.

Much as I'd like to dismiss this as being an easy category, it is ideas as brilliant as this that make the category look easy. Unfortunately, like most of my choices, it didn't originate in this country.

We have to face up to the sad truth that the most innovative work is coming from overseas. (And by innovative I don't mean running a BACC-rejected idea on the internet.) We can't even hide behind the excuse of producing classic campaigns in the mould of John Smith's. Where were they this year?

However, the good news is the majority of work from overseas is of a far lower standard then ours, even in a year as bad as this one. The bad news is their highs are so much higher. Which is why you'll find, in a corner of my office, a pile of books and reels from teams in Holland, France, Canada, Spain and the US. If you can't beat them ...

- Jeremy Craigen is the creative director at DDB London


1. John O'Keeffe, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

O'Keeffe is not someone who appears to struggle with life at the top of his game. John Hegarty's number two, he continues to deliver creative work of an unswervingly high standard. The agency's reel speaks for itself, with Robinsons, Lynx and Levi's arguably the pick of the crop. Not afraid of change or of moving forward, O'Keeffe is constantly bringing through new young talent to boost the BBH brand. A tough taskmaster, he gets results.

2. Trevor Beattie, TBWA\London

A list of the best creative directors would not be complete without the irrepressible Trevor Beattie. Never far from the limelight, nor awards trophies, Beattie is always striving to transport brands to the next level. No stranger to Cannes Grands Prix, his department brought home the award for best film this year for Sony PlayStation 2's "mountain".

3. Steve Harrison, Harrison Troughton Wunderman

Not satisfied with clearing the board of awards in the UK, Harrison is now making his mark on Europe. His ingenuity - while at Cannes he ran a recruitment ad campaign to lure talent from the rival agencies - ensures the agency remains among the country's top-three most awarded DM agencies. "Invisible IT man" for IBM has already brought home a gold from Cannes.

4. Richard Flintham and Andy McLeod, Fallon

The uncompromising creative standards of Richard Flintham and Andy McLeod are evident throughout the agency's output. Its debut work for Velvet was unlike anything in the category and it continued to take the creative high ground for BBC Radio 1 Xtra.

5. Leon Jaume and Leslie Ali, WCRS

Typically, WCRS has had a roller-coaster year, but its creative output has been consistently strong. Its campaigns for Bupa, Prudential, First Direct, BMW and COI Communications have been hard-working yet creatively respectable. Jaume and Ali are said to employ a fruitful "good cop, bad cop" policy with their creative teams.

6. Mother

Mother appears to have been drowning in its responsibilities for Boots and Orange in 2004, so its creative strength has not been what it was in previous years. Nevertheless, the agency is still one of the strongest creative forces in the world, with Robert Saville and Mark Waites attracting talent from the four corners of the globe.

7. Mark Roalfe, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Roalfe is a rare breed, free from bullshit and a director who lets the work speak for itself. He is known for nurturing talent and has overseen some of the agency's best creative work. A creative beacon, he is integral to the culture of the agency and is closely involved with the agency's three key clients: Virgin, Marks & Spencer and Land Rover.

8. Steve Aldridge, Partners Andrews Aldridge

His admirers would say Aldridge's consistent creative brilliance knows no bounds. Whether it's to encourage enquiries into golfing holidays at The Grove country hotel or the latest ad for Lexus, the standard is always high. Always considered, he guides a strict ship, but one that undoubtedly produces results.

9. Nick Bell, J. Walter Thompson

Bell has been at JWT for more than a year now, and his impact is starting to show. Turning around the behemoth on Knightsbridge Green was never going to be easy, but strong work for Smirnoff and Kit Kat is starting to shine through. His reputation for overseeing award-winning advertising for everyday products looks safe for now.

10. Dave Alberts, Grey

Alberts scrapes in at number ten because he's managed to inject a little excitement into what has been a creative backwater for so many years. Under him, Grey's work for Flash and Horlicks was brought back to life. Subsequent work for Remington and Bold shows promise.


1. Neil Dawson, executive planning director, TBWA\London

In just three years at TBWA\London, Dawson has made a significant difference to the agency, evidenced by its many triumphs at this year's IPA Effectiveness Awards. His reputation as one of the industry's planning intellects, built during his tenures at Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy and Euro RSCG London, makes him worthy of the top position on this year's list.

2. Charles Vallance, founding partner, Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest

The planner behind the hugely successful branding campaign that launched Orange in the UK has repeated the job on O2. Proof of his continuing brilliance came in the form of this year's IPA Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix. His agency's strong new-business performance further justifies his number-two position on this list.

3. Laurence Green, partner, Fallon

A list of top ten UK planners wouldn't be complete without Fallon's strategic brain. Green remains one of the industry's clearest thinkers as well as being universally respected by his peers and admired by his staff.

4. John Lowery, acting planning director, Grey London

Lowery re-emerged this year when he took on the role of chief planning officer for Europe at Grey. He has now taken on Grey's planning responsibilities in the UK following the departure of Dylan Williams. Lowery, known for being a touch prickly, is one of the biggest planning names in the industry following his stretch at Lowe.

5. Simon Clemmow, planning partner, Clemmow Hornby Inge

The strength of CHI's strategic output- and its impact on the ad industry - provides proof of Clemmow's abilities. His "big ideas" mantra has penetrated deep into the agency's psyche. And he has proved his versatility as he extends this concept into disciplines other than advertising, as CHI stretches into the realms of DM, PR and media.

6. Charlie Snow, planning director, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners

Although Snow was linked to the J. Walter Thompson planning director role, he remains at DLKW for the time being. He is liked and rated by colleagues in equal measure. The agency's constant appearance on pitchlists is testament to his strategic prowess.

7. Debbie Klein, joint managing director, WCRS

Klein is carving a name for herself among the heavy hitters of the planning world; WCRS scooped several awards for its BMWand The Number 118 118 campaigns at this year's IPA Effectiveness Awards. As the agency's recently appointed joint managing director, her increased responsibilities reflect how highly she is regarded within the agency.

8. Sid McGrath, planner, HHCL & Partners

Part of a hungry new team at HHCL, McGrath has been charged with engineering the agency's revival. He takes the reins of the team that came up with some of the best planning ever, such as the AA's "fourth emergency service". He's known for being a bit of a joker and having a penchant for disgusting clothes.

9. George Bryant, head of planning, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Bryant deserves a mention, not only as the head of the biggest planning department in town but also in light of AMV's strong showing at this year's IPA Effectiveness Awards. Bryant, whose background includes work on Orange at WCRS, two years at TBWA\Chiat\Day and a spell at Mother, has only been at AMV for just over a year, but is proving popular.

10. Guy Murphy, deputy chairman, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Murphy was made deputy chairman this year, cementing his reputation as the successor to BBH's planning genius and chairman, Jim Carroll. These are some big shoes to fill. Murphy's experience, spanning a stint in Singapore before returning to run the BBH planning department in 2001, is impressive. As is his work on Whitbread, particularly Boddingtons, which won an IPA Effectiveness Award. Clearly, he's made for the job.


1. Leo Premutico, Saatchi & Saatchi

The Australian-born copywriter Premutico was plucked from Colenso New Zealand at the behest of Tony Granger and has since worked on the Coco De Mer "orgasm" campaign as well briefs for Toyota and Lexus. Despite his relative youth, Premutico was paired with the Saatchis head of art, Jan Jacobs. The decision paid off after they created one of the best TV ads of 2004 - the "ventriloquist" spot for the NSPCC's "someone to turn to" campaign.

2. Phil Holbrook and Liam Donnelly, Hall Moore CHI

If a young creative team's ability can be judged by the number of high-profile moves they can cram into their early years, then Holbrook and Donnelly are the real deal. The pair teamed up in 2001 at Proximity London, where they impressed with their student TV Licensing work. After picking up gold and silver DMA Awards, they were poached last year by Partners Andrews Aldridge. Barely a year later, their former bosses Simon Hall and Warren Moore lured them to Hall Moore CHI.

3. Eloise Smith and Natalie Ranger, St Luke's

This pair - who share writing and art directing - met in Watford and were soon snapped up by RKCR/Y&R. There, they applied their creative talents to briefs for Lego and Virgin Mobile, while also helping to launch the tabloid Times. In August, they were persuaded to help bolster St Luke's creative fortunes.

4. Sarah Buller and Kerry Bell, Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel

Still in their mid-twenties, these former Campaign Faces to Watch are in their seventh year as a creative team. They came to prominence at Harrison Troughton Wunderman with their Xerox work. A move to McCann Relationship Marketing followed. Within 12 months they were poached by Craik Jones.

5. Chris Bovill and John Allison, TBWA\London

Bovill and Allison kicked off their first year of agency life with a dream brief - John Smith's, coming up with the excellent "babies" spot. In the following three years, they have worked on The Sun, Nissan and PlayStation.

6. Simon Cam, Glue London

Cam joined Glue nearly three years ago as a Flash designer and has since helped the agency win two gold Cyber Lions for Pot Noodle. He was recently appointed to run Glue's new interactive film content offering, SuperGlue.

7. Will Bingham and Victoria Daltrey, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Bingham and Daltry won a place on a Diageo post-grad scheme and spent their first year in the business working on placements at J.Walter Thompson, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Bartle Bogle Hegarty. They landed their first full-time jobs - at BBH - in September.

8. Sam Oliver and Shishir Patel, DDB London

A former Watford "team of the year", Oliver and Patel started agency life at Ogilvy, where they created the "cloth people" campaign for Comfort Fabric Conditioner. They since produced the creative that helped DDB win Zoton and are now being trusted to work across all DDB's big accounts.

9. Billy Faithful and Ross Neil, HHCL/Red Cell

This pair started their career at HHCL last October after a three-month placement at Mother. The fact they've no formal training hasn't stopped them. They created the "Seedy Sanchez" poster work for Pot Noodle, the "Sid the Slug" campaign for the Food Standards Agency and the "odd couples" spot for Sky+ that featured Mike Read and David Hasselhoff.

10. Scott Andrews, Draft Worldwide

Andrews started life at Draft as an account handler, but soon realised his talent lay elsewhere and has since worked on the Stella Artois online account and helped to win the MTV pitch.


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