Director Jeff Low had a standout year with work for Barclaycard, GoCompare, Sipsmith and Amazon Prime demonstrating his signature, quirky humour. Other highlights included an emotional film about a train journey for LNER, directed by Andreas Nilsson, The Glue Society’s real-world hack for Hiscox and a spot about sleep for Ikea.
In a year of transition, Rogue formed an alliance with Blink, bringing together their specialities in commercial production, animation, automotive, music videos and long-form entertainment. Ad highlights included Sam Brown’s samurai-inspired O2 ad for the Rugby World Cup and an emotional Barnardo’s campaign, Stacy Wall’s ad for Coca-Cola’s Premier League sponsorship, and another busy cycle for Mark Jenkinson in the car market, including the global launch film for Audi’s first electronic car. Rogue has also bolstered its roster by signing new talent including Channel 4’s Alex Boutell and Neil Gorringe, editor turned director Lisa Gunning and Scandinavian star Rune Milton.
Dougal Wilson continues to be the jewel in Blink’s crown. He took another turn at John Lewis’ blockbuster Christmas ad, its first joint festive campaign with Waitrose, which tells a charming story about a dragon who becomes overexcited about the festive period. The company’s craft was on display in spots for Born Free, Wimbledon and Anchor, and Nick Ball scored laughs with a Barclaycard campaign about a couple with vastly differing interests. Director Fred Rowson, who was behind Pride in London’s film marking 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising, is one to watch.
3 Pulse Films
From Apple’s camera wizardry to Sainsbury’s Dickensian tale, Pulse Films had a colourful year. After releasing his award-winning debut feature film Boyz in the Wood, Ninian Doff returned to ads with Veg Power’s superhero epic and Sainsbury’s Santa Claus myth. Academy Award-winner James Marsh shot ITV’s character vignettes and The Guardian’s first brand campaign since 2012. The duo ThirtyTwo was behind Comic Relief’s spot addressing societal divisions, a Campaign Big Awards winner, while documentary filmmaker Lucy Cohen made a candid series about parenthood for WaterWipes. Oscar Hudson also dazzled with Apple’s breathtaking "Bounce" ad for Airpods, and Yann DeMange directed Fifa 20’s energetic spot. Beyond advertising, Pulse made waves with the Spike Jonze-directed comedy special Aziz Ansari: Right Now, and Netflix series The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Under the new leadership of Simon Cooper and Medb Riordan, Academy says 2019 was the busiest period in its 35-year history. D&AD named it Production Company of the Year, while Academy’s directors picked up 19 Lions in Cannes. Lauded director Frederic Planchon was on top form with work for PlayStation, Renault and Cadbury, while the legendary Jonathan Glazer created a haunting short film for the BBC. Ian Pons Jewell, who signed to Academy at the end of 2018, was prolific, with nine commercials and two music videos, including Virgin Media’s debut campaign by Adam & Eve/DDB. Emerging talent Billy Boyd Cape shot ads for the Army, ITV, NHS and Nike. Academy also launched a photography division and widened its global reach with work in China and the US.
Somesuch recorded its biggest-ever turnover and awards haul in 2019. Kim Gehrig, who has become its most sought-after filmmaker, was the first female director to win the coveted D&AD black Pencil for Bodyform’s "Viva la vulva". Her other culture-shifting films included Nike’s "Dream crazier" and Gillette’s ad tackling toxic masculinity. But Somesuch doesn’t thrive off the back of a single heavyweight talent. Aoife McArdle, who is working on a TV series, directed ads for PlayStation and Nike, while Lynne Ramsay shot an intimate film about the renowned photographer Brigitte Lacombe for Miu Miu. Meanwhile, Steve Rogers brought a fresh angle to Amazon Prime Video’s second "Great shows stay with you" series and the emerging talent Raine Allen-Miller reached the big leagues with an ad for Virgin Media. All are examples of Somesuch’s ability to nurture diverse talent into a world-class roster of directors.