10 Gareth Mercer
Chief executive, Pablo
Even a couple of years ago, one could be forgiven for asking: "Pablo, who?" But since then, the agency has become a fixture on pitchlists that bigger rivals eye jealously – what’s more, it’s converting them. Mercer needs – and deserves – a bigger profile for his part in this. If the agency continues on this trajectory, it should be assured.
9 Camilla Harrisson
Chief executive, Anomaly
Harrisson’s mission to put Anomaly firmly on the map and in the minds of intermediaries and clients alike continues apace. Founder Carl Johnson said that in 2018 the agency was eight times bigger and eight times more profitable than eight years previously. Harrisson can take most of the credit for that.
8 David Abraham
Founder, Wonderhood Studios
The April launch of Wonderhood Studios might have been relatively soft but ex-Channel 4 chief executive Abraham got the industry to take note with a series of high-profile appointments, including BBC creative lead Aiden McClure. Under the proven leadership of Abraham, the agency will be one to watch.
7 Xavier Rees
Chief executive, Havas London and Havas Helia
A welcome entrant to this year’s list, Rees has earned his leadership spurs by taking Havas London to new heights and was rewarded with the keys to Havas Helia, too. An everyman – in the best possible sense – he wears his intelligence lightly, which makes him all the more appealing.
6 Magnus Djaba
Global president, Saatchi & Saatchi
Given that so many of his contemporaries have left – or been ejected from – their chief executive seats this year, it’s reassuring to see Djaba still on the list. A reputation as "a safe pair of hands" belies the dynamism that Djaba’s uniting presence gives to the company in these ever-changing times.
5 Michael Sugden
Group chief executive, VCCP
Although his name isn’t over the door, Sugden has been instrumental in VCCP’s success – in many ways, he is the fifth founder. Reward for his loyalty and help in crafting the business into the success it is today, with a diverse range of offerings making it forward-facing, came this year when he was promoted to a group role.
4 Bill Scott
Chief executive, Droga5 London
At a time when many agencies appear to be becoming homogenised, corporate and bland, how nice to see Scott leading a quirky, distinctive and characterful shop. The approach makes sense and bleeds out on to the work too, giving it a buzz that’s lacking elsewhere.
3 Helen Calcraft
Co-founder, Lucky Generals
Calcraft isn’t one to walk away from a challenge – as well as being handed the task of overseeing the revamp of TBWA\London (a work in progress) and running the expanding Lucky Generals, she was an instigator of the TimeTo initiative, which aims to raise standards of behaviour across the industry.
2 Sarah Golding
Chief executive, The & Partnership London
Golding’s crucial and agendasetting "Magic & the Machines" programme at the IPA has managed to get the industry thinking about the opportunities (and threats) that AI and machine-learning does and does not represent to creativity in general and their businesses in particular. Achieving this, while also running The & Partnership London, shows her remarkable reserves of energy.
1 James Murphy
Founder, Adam & Eve/DDB
Does Murphy ever stop? Despite having millions and millions of reasons not to need the bother, there are few people who are prepared to network and socialise like him. His love of the industry is both evident and infectious.