1 Jeff Low
Low is a master of comedy and his talent never felt more welcome than in the turmoil of 2020. Continuing his long-time collaboration with Droga5 London, he directed memorable spots for Rustlers and Setapp. He also shot a BT campaign with Saatchi & Saatchi and worked with Adam & Eve/DDB on a Christmas ad for doggy treat brand Greenies, among the funniest festive offerings. If advertisers want to provide some much-needed light relief, Low should be at the top of their list.
ThirtyTwo, the directing duo made up of Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, kept busy this year with work for the BBC, Renault and an Uber film shot remotely across four continents. Their second turn for the Department for Education put the spotlight on a real teacher in Manchester, while a heartwarming ad for McDonald’s told the story of a teenage boy getting his first taste of freedom. They rounded off the year with Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign, one of themmost high-profile jobs in UK advertising.
3 Kim Gehrig
Gehrig has long been one of the most in-demand directors, and in 2020 she showed off her versatility. She started the year with an artful ode to home cooks for Lurpak, then came an ad for Apple AirPods that followed a woman as she magically transitioned from day to night while travelling a city’s streets. Gehrig was also behind the well-regarded “Life needs truth” campaign from The New York Times and Coca-Cola’s family-centred lockdown ad.
4 Oscar Hudson
After catching attention with Apple’s breathtaking “Bounce” in 2019, Hudson garnered more buzz this year with Nike’s split-screen ad, “You can’t stop us”, celebrating inclusiveness and perseverance in sport. Then he got a shot at the most-watched ad in UK advertising, John Lewis & Partners’ and Waitrose & Partners’ joint Christmas campaign, which struck the right balance between quiet humour and sentimentality. There are big things ahead for Hudson.
5 Raine Allen Miller
Once touted as an up-and-coming director to watch, it is fair to say Allen Miller has lived up to her potential. She is in the big league now, with ads this year for Squarespace and Samsung. At Christmas time, she broke the mould for Tesco with a fun romp set to a Britney Spears soundtrack.
6 Ian Pons Jewell
Pons Jewell’s futuristic film for Three lived up to its predecessor, 2018’s “Phones are good”, which he also directed. One of the busiest in the business, he also churned out work for Squarespace and Jack Daniel’s. Industry observers now eagerly await his next move after he announced he was leaving Academy to set up his own production company.
Riff Raff Films
Megaforce, the directing collective made up of Leo Berne, Clement Gallet, Charles Brisgand and Raphaël Rodriguez, brings energy and inventiveness to all its projects. This year it shot Heineken’s humorous ad, which aimed to break the stereotype about beer being a man’s drink, as well as one of 2020’s best festive campaigns – Burberry’s choreographed dance from the streets of London to the seaside.
8 Steve Rogers
Rogers started the year on a high note, directing Amazon’s Super Bowl ad, “Before Alexa”. The film took an hilarious journey through historic moments to imagine a time before the virtual assistant device. Later in the year, he shot Coca-Cola’s story starring Russian Doll’s Natasha Lyonne as she saved a city from annihilation.
9 Sam Pilling
Pilling shot one of the stand-out commercials of 2020, Ikea’s prequel to Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare, which told the backstory to the tortoise’s victory. He also brought a fresh approach to Coors Light, with a Rocky Mountain adventure, and won Music Video of the Year at the UKMVAs for Rocket Fuel by DJ Shadow featuring De La Soul.
10 Nisha Ganatra
Ganatra handled Bodyform’s taboo-busting “#Wombstories”, which helped break the stigma around miscarriage, endometriosis and the menopause. Her work helped uncover the diverse experiences of women, which often remain hidden. As she told Campaign in an interview: “If you keep giving the work to the same small group of people who have done it over and over, then nothing will ever change.”