1 Pulse Films
Despite the extraordinary circumstances of 2020, Pulse Films kept busy and produced some of the year’s best ads. Star duo ThirtyTwo, also known as Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, turned their deft hands to quietly observed films for the Department for Education, BBC, McDonald’s and – most poignantly – Sainsbury’s three-part Christmas campaign about food and family memories. After directing Apple’s acclaimed “Bounce” last year, Oscar Hudson broke out with Nike’s “You can’t stop us”, a split-screen rallying cry about resilience in sport, and the biggest job in UK advertising, John Lewis & Partners’ and Waitrose & Partners’ joint Christmas campaign. Sam Pilling also had a strong run, shooting Ikea’s The Tortoise and the Hare prequel and an energetic ad for Coors Light atop a snowy mountain. Bassam Tariq recently joined Pulse Films’ roster and is in production on a Facebook campaign after directing feature film Mogul Mowgli. Amma Asante and Haley Elizabeth Anderson are also among Pulse Films’ directors to watch. All in all, the company showed the breadth of its diverse talent, who form part of a new wave of commercial creativity.
Somesuch’s stellar directors roster continues to produce the utmost in craft and storytelling. Kim Gehrig, long at the top of creatives’ wish lists, directed large-scale ads for Apple, Coca-Cola and The New York Times, as well as a beautifully crafted Lurpak spot. Raine Allen Miller’s talent is in bloom, as she shot Tesco’s energetic Christmas ad, set to the Britney Spears song Oops!… I Did It Again, and campaigns for Samsung and Squarespace. Steve Rogers showed off his comedic talent with Amazon’s Super Bowl ad and an offbeat festive spot for Plenty, while Sam Hibbard told a quirky love story, inspired by onions, for Samsung. Other highlights included Daniel Wolfe’s launch ad for PlayStation 5 and Dan Emmerson’s hopeful lockdown message for the BBC.
3 Academy Films
Like all production companies, Covid-19 had an impact on Academy’s turnover but the quality of its output remained high. Before leaving to set up his own venture, Ian Pons Jewell shot an optimistic view of Britain’s future with Three’s “Real 5G” campaign. Emerging talent Billy Boyd Cape is coming into his own, with touching ads for Cadbury, Nike and Co-op, and Savanah Leaf turned her hand to a Tena campaign. Jack Driscoll, Marcus Söderlund and Si & Ad also churned out solid work. Late in 2020, Academy signed UK Music Video Awards and D&AD-winning director Henry Scholfield, known for his videos for the likes of Stormzy and Dua Lipa, and one to watch on the commercial front.
4 Biscuit Filmworks
Top director Jeff Low led the charge for Biscuit again, this year providing comic relief with ads for Rustlers, Setapp, Greenies and BT. Andreas Nilsson also had a memorable outing with his pair of ads for Amazon Alexa, which merged the fantastical and mundane.
Much like the stoic bovine in Moneysupermarket’s “Money calm bull”, directed by Nick Ball, Blink kept calm and carried on through the storm of 2020. Ball’s work was a standout, as was the heartfelt animated film from Stephen McNally for Heinz’s campaign fighting child hunger. On the lighter side, James Papper made madcap animated spots for Camden Town Brewery, while the in-demand Bobbsey Twins were behind Lego’s engaging Christmas ad.