Hot in 2018: Top 11 creatives

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

Hot in 2018: Top 11 creatives

11 Danny Brooke-Taylor

Founding partner, Lucky Generals

Brooke-Taylor and Lucky Generals made it to the big league, winning a Super Bowl ad slot with Amazon’s "Alexa loses her voice". The commercial, which starred celebrities, ranging from Cardi B to Sir Anthony Hopkins, filling in for the voice assistant, was even nominated for an Emmy. Brooke-Taylor took on more global assignments for Amazon and Budweiser, while a film for Hostelworld with Mariah Carey went viral. On home soil, he oversaw the #TimeTo campaign calling on the ad industry to end sexual harassment.

10 Chaka Sobhani

Chief creative officer, Leo Burnett London

Sobhani faced the daunting task of shepherding Leo Burnett’s creative department through the upheaval caused by management exits, a union with Fallon and an office move. She manages to rise above the whir of Publicis Groupe’s "Power of One" machine as an inspiring leader, characterised by her optimism and energy. The agency’s flagship client, McDonald’s, has developed a distinct tone of voice since Sobhani joined. Wins this year from Betfair and Arla Foods’ Castello will keep her busy.

9 Vicki Maguire

Chief creative officer, Grey London

It’s not an easy time to lead a WPP agency. The heat is rising since Sir Martin Sorrell’s exit, with financial squeezes and merger whisperings, plus Grey London’s own management exodus of chief executive Leo Rayman, managing director Olivia Browne and Maguire’s creative partner, Caroline Pay. Throughout, Maguire remains a bright spot, a straight-talking leader who has delivered commendable work for Volvo, Lucozade and Marks & Spencer. Grey would be remiss not to protect one of its best talents.

8 Nils Leonard

Founder, Uncommon Creative Studio

Uncommon, Leonard’s brainchild with fellow ex-Grey London leaders Lucy Jameson and Natalie Graeme, turned one this year, and the creative chief ensured adland’s hottest start-up stayed in the spotlight. Leonard is adept at generating buzz, but Uncommon’s first work passed muster. Ovo Energy’s "Get mad" rallying cry, Habito’s departure from staid financial ads and the launch of Asos’ youth brand Collusion all exuded passion. Love or hate the image he’s created, Leonard is a champion for advertising that people will care about.

7 Laurence Thomson and Rob Doubal

Chief creative officers and co-presidents, McCann London

Thomson and Doubal brought home another Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Microsoft Xbox, with "Xbox Design Lab originals: the fanchise model". While Xbox is McCann London’s most renowned work, Thomson and Doubal have done a good job of injecting some fun into seemingly tired accounts such as Nurofen and Subway. The pair are well respected in the industry and clearly hold much affection for each other as well.

6 Ian Heartfield

Chief creative officer, Bartle Bogle Hegarty London

Heartfield became his agency’s sole creative leader this year, when BBH promoted him to chief creative officer as joint executive creative director Anthony Austin left. He leads with a steady hand, overseeing quality work for Audi, Tesco, Virgin Media, Bwin and Burger King. Strong judgment, dedication and the respect he garners across the industry leave him well placed to lead this seminal British agency into its next chapter.

5 Hermeti and Ana Balarin

Partners, Mother London

Mother could have been brought low at several junctures this year, but the Balarins helped the shop soar above each challenge. When client KFC faced a crippling chicken shortage, Mother responded with the bold "FCK" apology ad, which swept the awards board. After losing (some might say unfairly) Moneysupermarket, Mother bowed out with aplomb, releasing an ad starring Action Man. Greenpeace’s appeal to save the rainforests, later adapted by Iceland for its Christmas ad, was not only a beautiful piece of craft but also started a national debate. Such creativity paints a picture of a team having fun.

4 Alex Grieve and Adrian Rossi 

Executive creative directors, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Grieve and Rossi have raised their agency’s creative game after it seemed AMV’s prowess was waning. They can share the pride of winning Asda and the joint Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays accounts, both of which produced promising first work. They steered BT in a new direction, with meaty creative briefs that attracted top directors. Other ads for brands such as Guinness and Currys PC World indicate the agency houses creative talent that can do its founders proud.

3 David Kolbusz

Chief creative officer, Droga5 London

This year Droga5 London, under Kolbusz, proved its mettle on the UK ad scene. Ancestry’s Brexit-themed ad filled other creative directors with envy, even if Uniqlo’s Solange-directed dance film wasn’t to everyone’s taste. But comic ads for Amazon Prime Video were Droga5’s biggest hit, catching the eye of the management at Amazon’s Seattle HQ. No wonder creative talent is now vying to work in a place guided by Kolbusz’s vision.

2 Tony Davidson and Iain Tait

Executive creative directors, Wieden & Kennedy London

Tait and Davidson aren’t ones for industry posturing, letting their department’s work speak for itself – and did it ever in 2018. Wieden & Kennedy London was responsible for the most acclaimed ad of the year, Nike’s "Nothing beats a Londoner". The pair could have rested on their laurels, but there was great work to come from Three, Honda and TK Maxx.

1 Richard Brim

Chief creative officer, Adam & Eve/DDB

Brim is a master of the advertising arts. Despite the wrench of saying goodbye to his former mentor, Adam & Eve/ DDB co-founder Ben Priest, Brim led his team to Agency of the Year at Cannes Lions and the Campaign Big Awards. Ads for The National Lottery and Lloyds Bank misfired but they were outshone by CALM’s "Project 84", perhaps the most powerful campaign of the year. A fresh direction for John Lewis and Waitrose also showed Brim is at the top of his game.