Hot in 2018: Top 10 ad planners

Throughout December, we are revealing the best of our industry in 2018.

Hot in 2018: Top 10 ad planners

10 Vicki Holgate

Chief strategy officer, FCB Inferno

Holgate has been instrumental in the success of Sport England’s "This girl can", a campaign that has become a blueprint for marketing as a force for good. This year she led the successful pitch to retain the business. Holgate’s strategic thinking drives campaigns that smash conventions. From her work on the Home Office knife crime campaign to "Together #WePlayStrong" for Uefa, she has helped establish FCB Inferno as a dynamic player.

9 Rachel Pashley

Global board planning director, J Walter Thompson London

As head of Female Tribes at JWT, Pashley has led a fresh approach to marketing to and understanding the female consumer. Her analytical and empathetic approach ensures the research she oversees has a cultural impact far beyond adland. She’s successfully cutting through outdated definitions of femininity and empowering brands to better connect with half of the world.

8 Jo Arden

Chief strategy officer, MullenLowe London

A formidable intellect combined with empathy makes Arden a compelling operator. The work she has done for The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and "The Truth Project" is both challenging and effective. Sitting on both the Effectiveness Leadership and the professional development groups at the IPA, Arden is also the mentor-in-chief for Nabs Fast Forward, helping the next generation of talent.

7 Dylan Williams

Partner and chief strategy officer, Droga5 London

The headline of an opinion piece Williams wrote for Campaign in 2017 – "Why it’s time for less bullshit and more build shit" – would be an apt motto for his year. Unusually straight-talking for a strategist, he remains a force for good in the industry. From picking up business such as the global Kahlúa account to creating work for Amazon Prime, Williams has been delivering strategic thinking on-demand for the past 12 months.

6 Andy Nairn

Founding partner, Lucky Generals

The understated and self-deprecating Nairn has been pivotal to the rise of Lucky Generals as a creative and strategic power. Brilliant, challenging planning underpins the agency’s best work. This has included the strategy-fuelled brand pivot at Pot Noodle, repositioning it from the snack of sloths to a fuel for go-getters.

5 Richard Huntington 

Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi London

A rare breed in advertising, Huntington manages to be both thoughtful and thought-provoking. His reputation as one of the sharpest brains in the business is well deserved, and in the past 12 months he has continued to deliver standout strategies that bring commercial advantage for brands. 

4 Kate Waters

Chief strategy officer, Now

As endorsements go, a tweet from Hillary Clinton is pretty impressive. The politician’s praise of Now’s award-winning "#OutOfOffice" campaign, which highlighted the gender pay gap this year, reflects the global cultural firepower of the agency. Waters’ analytical thinking, combined with her open-minded approach to championing new talent, makes her a unique and strong force for change in the industry.

3 David Golding

Founder, Adam & Eve/DDB

Golding may have millions of other things he could be doing, but he remains obsessed with brand-defining creative ideas. This year’s John Lewis & Partners Christmas ad, starring Sir Elton John, not only hit the emotional heartland of the department store brand, but had the confidence to poke fun at itself via an ad from its sister brand, Waitrose & Partners. The spot, which showed a family speeding through its sister brand’s festive ad, featured a male character commenting: "I prefer the one with penguin." When you have made your mark, not to mention your money, you can afford to have a bit of fun.

2 Katie Mackay-Sinclair and Chris Gallery

Partners, Mother

Gallery and Mackay-Sinclair sprinkle strategic sparkle on everything they touch. It is not only the agency’s magic for Ikea but the breadth of its strategic output that shows the pair’s unique talent. From smashing myths about later life for SunLife – an over-50s financial services brand – to shifting the focus for Baileys to the product and connecting the liqueur with foodie culture, 2018 has been a stellar year for the duo.

1 Craig Mawdsley and Bridget Angear

Joint heads of planning, Abbott­ Mead Vickers BBDO

It has been a landmark year for AMV, from picking up the Glass Lion Grand Prix at Cannes for its Bodyform ad, which portrayed period blood in UK advertising for the first time, to the critical acclaim that greeted its "Trash Isles" work for LadBible and Plastic Oceans Foundation. Solid, strategic thinking has been at the heart of the agency’s brilliant performance. Mawdsley and Angear this year completed the longest consecutive run of golds in the history of the IPA Effectiveness Awards, securing their place at the agency’s core.