Top 20 creative directors

  • Nick Gill

    Nick Gill

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  • Robert Saville

    Robert Saville

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1. Nick Gill

For the second successive year, Gill sits at the top of this list and the accolade is down to his tight control of the fantastic Bartle Bogle Hegarty creative department. Rarely has the baton been dropped with the work the agency has produced in 2012, with highlights including spots for The Guardian, Lynx and St John Ambulance.

2. Robert Saville and Mark Waites

Many of the young start-ups in town will testify that Mother’s Saville and Waites are the people they want to emulate most. However, this pairing is a one-off and, as such, commands enormous respect from peers and wannabes alike. Although Mother has been a little quieter than usual this year, we have been treated to some inspiring moments, such as great work for Acer, Amnesty International and Ikea.

3. Ben Priest, Emer Stamp and Ben Tollett

These three had their work cut out this year, with a much bigger, more fractious creative department to run after the creation of Adam & Eve/DDB. Charting a way through this transition was probably enough to deal with, so it is commendable that John Lewis wasn’t disappointed this Christmas, and that work for Volkswagen and Harvey Nichols continued to impress.

4. Paul Silburn and Kate Stanners

Silburn and Stanners might be polar opposites as characters but their different styles complement each other and, as a duo, it works – as evidenced by some strong campaigns for Mattessons and Toyota this year. Saatchi & Saatchi gained traction in 2012 and the high-profile EE work is proving to be a showcase for the agency’s wares.

5. Ben Mooge and Andy Sandoz

This pair analysed football fans’ brainwaves and devised an internet-powered T-shirt and a digital bottle top in 2012, all in the name of advertising. The output from Work Club this year stands out as some of the most creative, inventive and fun in the industry and helped earn it the accolade of Digital Agency of the Year.

6. Kim Papworth and Tony Davidson

It has been a dramatic turnaround for Wieden & Kennedy’s Papworth and Davidson, whose losses last year are firmly behind them after winning the gargantuan Tesco account. This pair have had their hands full with pitching for and maintaining Tesco, but we still saw impressive work for the likes of Honda, Lurpak and Cravendale.

7. Charlie Wilson and Emma de la Fosse

OgilvyOne’s creative duo (and married couple) led a great creative team who were behind 2012’s most-awarded direct campaign. The multi-award-winning Kern & Sohn "the gnome experiment" initiative claimed bronze and silver Lions at Cannes and a record ten gold DMAs, also winning the Grand Prix.

8. Paul Brazier

Brazier has skilfully run the largest creative department in the country, and it is testament to his hard work that Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO shows no sign of letting standards slip. This year, there were strong campaigns for Cancer Research UK, Sainsbury’s and EDF Energy.

9. Nils Leonard

Under Leonard, Grey produced one of the most impactful spots of the year. The British Heart Foundation campaign hit home with the help of Vinnie Jones and saved lives in the process.

10. Matt Gooden and Ben Walker

This duo are not only brilliant craftsmen, they are adept at spotting and nurturing great talent, and their hard work in 2012 is starting to put the London office of Crispin Porter & Bogusky on the map. The highlight of their year, and ours, was the hilarious and ballsy Paddy Power "we hear you" campaign.

11. Mick Mahoney

Mahoney picked up quite a few awards for his creative efforts this year, with work for Durex and Credit Suisse winning at Cannes and Kinsale. He will hope to up that award count as the former Euro RSCG begins its new life as Havas Worldwide.

12. Jonathan Burley

The CHI & Partners creative chief’s survival guide to Cannes this year was the funniest thing ever written about the festival. In a nutshell, don’t drink the neon liquid inside the novelty glowing shit and too much Domaines Ott will lead to "sick on your T-shirt and a stranger inside you". Burley’s Private View copy is always comedy gold, but he also picked up real gold at Cannes for The Sunday Times and was behind some lovely work for clients including TalkTalk and MySupermarket.co.uk.

13. Richard Denney and Dave Henderson

Denney and Henderson have only occupied the top creative roles at DLKW Lowe for slightly more than a year, but already there is a notable turnaround. The agency had become a veritable stranger to decent work before their arrival but, thanks to its joint executive creative directors, this year we have seen a very funny Trainline spot and great ads for Halfords and the Royal Air Force.

14. Caitlin Ryan

She chaired the Direct jury at this year’s Campaign Big Awards, but if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Proximity London’s Ryan was behind the agency’s award-winning Procter & Gamble Facebook campaign "mission control", which won three golds at the DMA Awards.

15. Duan Evans and Nick Turner

The pair were promoted to become AKQA’s executive creative directors in 2011 and have been behind some of the agency’s innovative and award-winning work this year, including MTV’s Under The Thumb app and Nike’s FuelStation, both winners at Cannes.

16. Justin Tindall

Tindall took over the creative helm at Leo Burnett in 2010 and has been handling clients, such as McDonald’s, well ever since. He has been trying to push traditionally conservative brands – for that, read Kellogg – into investing in work that doesn’t just tick the cereal boxes, and managed it with a fine Kellogg’s Rice Krispies spot this year.

17. Nicky Bullard

Bullard has ramped up the output of Lida’s creative department this year with a heavy focus on engaging and lively digital work. It produced award-winning activity for Mini Finance and developed appealing work for Ikea. Bullard was also behind O2’s innovative augmented-reality app.

18. Chris Clarke

Clarke, LBi’s poetic executive creative director, has been behind some of the digital agency’s best work this year for brands including Virgin Atlantic and Lloyds TSB. He was also instrumental in LBi winning the Carlsberg digital pitch in May.

19. Rik Haslam

Haslam has hugely improved Rapp’s creative output during 2012, with some of this year’s biggest campaigns for clients such as Virgin Media and Cancer Research UK, and also launched major digital activity for Bacardi. Haslam played a key role in the agency landing the consolidated Barclays direct marketing account.

20. Daniel Bonner

Bonner built a stellar reputation at AKQA and is quietly doing the same in the top creative role at Razorfish. Highlights of the agency’s UK output included the Lynx "summer of sport" campaign and the "Audi city" activity.