Rattling Stick has reclaimed the title of Campaign’s Production Company of the Year after a three-year hiatus. The sheer volume and variety of work was enough for it to see off strong competition, particularly from Blink and Outsider.
In 2013, Rattling Stick produced visual feasts, such as "Nutcracker" for Baileys and "chauffeur" for Galaxy; slick, effects-laden spots that showed off its technical nous, including "steps" for Lexus; and ads that oozed charm, such as "the wait" for Vodafone and "January sucks" for The Sun.
This was no freak spike in quality for Rattling Stick, either. The number of awards that the production company collected in 2013, for work made in 2012, gives the impression of a shop that is frequently at the top of its game. For example, at Cannes this year, Rattling Stick picked up a gold Lion for Axe’s "Susan Glenn" spot and two bronzes for its John Lewis and Mattessons ads. Rattling Stick’s 2012 work for The Guardian also continued to scoop awards.
But back to 2013 and, first off, a special mention must go to Rattling Stick’s new signing, Ed Morris, who became a director after a successful career as an agency creative. Morris, who has worked at Wieden & Kennedy, Lowe & Partners and Bartle Bogle Hegarty, will no doubt learn a great deal at the production house from Andy McLeod, the Fallon founder who is now flourishing behind the camera.
Morris wasn’t Rattling Stick’s only new signing this year, with Jack Whiteley, David Edwards and the dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied also joining the stable. But Morris in particular had a storming debut year. His first film – "#publooshocker" for the Department for Transport – was viewed more than eight million times on YouTube in its first week alone. He then directed the Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter as a depressed Father Christmas in a cinema ad for Greenpeace, which is worth checking out online. Morris also shot ads for Adidas and Stowford Press, as well as a powerful film that he also wrote for The Cybersmile Foundation, an anti-bullying charity.
Rattling Stick’s founders Daniel Kleinman and Ringan Ledwidge had a similarly auspicious 12 months. The latter directed the Baileys "Nutcracker" spot, continued his work with the actor Kevin Bacon for EE’s "sixth Bacon" ad and received the Chairman’s Award at the British Arrows in March. Ledwidge achieved all this in a year when he was out of action for a period of time to shoot a low-budget science-fiction film called Glimmer for DreamWorks.
Kleinman, meanwhile, turned his expert hand to directing the Galaxy "chauffeur" spot that brought the Breakfast At Tiffany’s actress Audrey Hepburn back to our screens, as well as the "steps" brand campaign for Lexus, which followed an 11-foot metal puppet and his team of puppeteers on a quest for love in a crowded city.
McLeod added the affecting "journey" spot for Cesar to his reel. The ad, which earned a Pick of the Week from Campaign, artfully showed the devoted relationship between an old man and his dog. The director went from sweet to gut-wrenching in his "dead man talking" spot for Transport for London, which showed the victim of a road accident matter-of-factly talking to the camera as his body is frantically worked on by medics. McLeod also shot the winsome "January sucks" spot for The Sun, which featured an award-winning performance from the young protagonist.
In September, Rattling Stick hired Andy Orrick, the former business development manager at Mill Digital in London, to run its content and entertainment arm, Rattling Stuff. The appointment was part of Rattling Stick’s strategy to bring more substance to the division. Other initiatives included partnerships with the multimedia production house Amoveo (which was co-founded by Millepied) and the former InStyle editor Eilidh MacAskill to create the Independent Fashion Commissioning & Consultancy, which puts brands in touch with the world of haute couture.
Rattling Stick reports that turnover for 2013 was up 26 per cent on the previous year, though it did not provide a base figure for comparison. Likewise, revenue from the US increased by 22 per cent after Rattling Stick launched an office there in 2011.
All of this points to a production company that is commercially astute and alive to the changes sweeping through the industry. More importantly, the changes seem to have done nothing to detract from its creative output, or its eye for talent. Applying these skilled hands to a wealth of brands, Rattling Stick has enjoyed a landmark 2013.
Recent winners: Blink (2012); Blink (2011); Rattling Stick (2010); Partizan (2009); Rattling Stick (2008)