TOP PERFORMERS OF 1998: PRODUCTION COMPANY OF THE YEAR - ACADEMY/The company surpassed the competition thanks to its ability to recognise and nurture talent while instilling ads with good old-fashioned production values

When viewing reels in search of a production company of the year, Campaign staff were overwhelmed by the sheer good old-fashioned production values represented by Academy’s collection of commercials for 1998.

When viewing reels in search of a production company of the year,

Campaign staff were overwhelmed by the sheer good old-fashioned

production values represented by Academy’s collection of commercials for


The fact that many of the best ads on the reel were made with BMP DDB,

our agency of the year, only adds weight to the argument that Academy

has been a star performer during 1998.

Of course, with Jonathan Glazer on its books, Academy always had a

head-start over its immediate rivals - chiefly represented by Outsider,

although some other production companies were similarly impressive,

including 1997’s winner, Godman, the ever-present Paul Weiland Film

Company and Spectre, 1998’s most significant newcomer.

Academy’s achievement over the year has been its consistency and power

to attract and retain top talent. When Peter Cattaneo, the director of

the Full Monty, joined Academy’s books in October 1997, he looked to be

filling in time and lining his pockets until his next film deal came.

But under the guidance of Lizzie Gower, Cattaneo went on to direct some

of the year’s best commercials - Audi’s ’golf club’ for Bartle Bogle

Hegarty and VW Passat’s ’ruler’ for BMP DDB.

Glazer has always been a precious commodity and knowing that his sights

are now set on feature films, Academy had to get the best out of him in

1998 while he was still available. Guinness’ ’swimblack’ may not have

been Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s finest moment, but the direction and the

production on the finished commercial were outstanding.

Similarly, ’last orders’ for Stella Artois through Lowe Howard-Spink was

a beautiful and moody film.

D&AD was another triumph for Academy in 1998. Glazer’s ’park life’ spot

for Nike won silvers for TV commercial up to 60 seconds, cinema ad and -

most importantly for the production company - best direction. He won

again for the cinematography displayed on the VW Polo ’protection’


But Academy is not just a two-horse town. Frederic Planchon created a

beautiful film for the Sony Wega at the end of the year, which

represents pan-European advertising at its finest.

And the talents of the American, Floria Sigismondi, were put to good use

for Leagas Delaney in the Fanta ’photo booth’ spot.

Big TV joined Academy’s books in February and there is a pool of

potential talent in Rob Green and Magnus Carlsson, who were both signed

up at the end of 1997 but have yet to make a splash.

If there is a criticism of Academy, it’s that sometimes a tempting

production is chosen in favour of a top-class script. Big TV directed a

commercial for Carling through WCRS which was a mish-mash of incoherent

ideas. And Pot Noodle wasn’t the best choice for getting Cattaneo off

the ground - although nobody could be blamed for wanting to tackle the

brand made famous by HHCL ads.

Academy was the chosen port of call for the US production giant,

Propaganda, which abandoned its attempts to set up a full-service UK

operation and announced a tie-up with our production company of the year

in February.

Directors like Spike Jonze (who won two D&AD silvers for pop promos),

Stephan Sednaoui and David Fincher can only reflect well on Academy,

although the concrete consequences of the tie-up have yet to be


Outsider, Academy’s chief rival during 1998, has made a splash with its

boisterous, maverick approach to the advertising industry, some

high-profile signings and some great ads. The company’s shining star is

Paul Gay, who has made the award-winning VW ’affordability’ campaign his

own, but has successfully branched out this year to take on Yellow

Pages, Mini’s ’gameshow’ and Sky Sport, among others.

Johan Gulbranson’s Butterkist spot for WCRS was also a favourite and

Pedro Romhanyi’s ’fast forward’ for Guinness is another memorable

inclusion on Outsider’s 1998 reel.

Robert Campbell managed to lure talents such as Rupert Sanders, Dom &

Nic and Pat Holden to the company he founded in 1997. Sanders brought

with him Abbott Mead’s ’drink-drive’ campaign - a coup for any director

- and Dom & Nic look set to be stars if they can find the right


Serious consideration, as ever, was given to the Paul Weiland Film

Company’s continued success in 1998 - but by its own standards, the

output was more consistent than exceptional. Particular credit goes to

the development of Gregory Rood’s talent, which first came to prominence

on the BBC’s ’Perfect Day’ film, and was seen again in ’Romario’ - BMP’s

swansong for Walkers.

The year’s big newcomer was Spectre, which was brought to life out of

the ashes of Limelight by Bertie Miller and the reinvigorated Daniel


Kleinman claimed some plum jobs - the second phase of Batchelors Super

Noodles, Foster’s and the Strongbow campaign featuring Johnny


The newcomer, Eliot Naftalin, landed the Camelot campaign, and Tim

Webber’s first commercial (for Woolworths) topped Campaign’s People’s


But 1998 belonged to Academy. Thanks to its professional, inspired

production values and the quality of its output matched with the

outstanding talent on its books, Academy emerged as the clear winner

among Campaign staff.

Recent winners: Godman (1997), Blink (1996), the Paul Weiland Film

Company (1995), Arden Sutherland-Dodd (1994).


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