Partizan narrowly missed becoming Production Company of the Year in 1999 but, this time, it was a clear winner.
Under Madeleine Sanderson (top, left), London's managing director, and chairman Georges Bermann (top, left), Partizan flourished in 2000, winning numerous awards and shooting 56 UK commercials with 12 directors.
Of course, the irrepressible Swedish collective Traktor is the jewel in Partizan's crown - its ubiquitous and quirky spots having won the company six Lions at Cannes and making Traktor the year's most-awarded director, according to the latest Gunn Report.
From Reebok's 'blob' (middle, right) and Lynx's 'strike' (bottom, right) ads to the transvestite karaoke spot for Supernoodles (bottom, left), Traktor unearthed some of the funniest scripts of last year. And yet the directors always manage to add a unique twist to their executions. It is this creativity and unpredictability that suggests continued success.
But Partizan is not simply about Traktor; other directors also excelled last year. Rocky Morton brought us Ikea's warped vision of customer service with 'long wait' and 'sweat' (top, right), Evan Bernard directed a Kiss TV spot (bottom, left) and Michel Gondry was prised away from pre-production on his debut feature Human Nature to shoot the animated 'Leo' spot for Nike.
The directorial duo Tony and Kim bade the Queen Mother a surprisingly uncheesy happy 100th birthday with their tunefully barking Corgis (top, right) for The Mail on Sunday. Recent signing Geoffroy de Crecy also fulfilled his promise in 2000 with work for Guinness (middle, left). As well as de Crecy, Partizan boosted its impressive roster of animation talent with the 23-year-old duo of Loic and Aurelian joining the Paris office on the strength of an impressive short, AP2000. Also signing in 2000 were Anthea Benton and Jim Hosking, who counts Mother and MTV among his previous employers.
Partizan lost only one director last year, with Eric Coignoux leaving to join Brave Films. However, it regained Doug Nichol from Serious Pictures.
Partizan has been excellent at finding its directors work through all four of its offices, a necessary skill given the fierce competition within the UK market.
Sanderson is one of London's most respected and capable managing directors and under her leadership the company enjoys a reputation as one of the most creative and professional around. Internal politics and personality clashes that beset some rival production houses have been kept to a minimum.
On a lighter note, Partizan celebrated Traktor's triumphs by throwing the best party in Cannes last year. In an industry where the real deals are often struck over Kir Royales, Partizan showed it had a body for sin as well as a head for business.
With the director Jonathan Glazer (winner of an unprecedented two Golds at D&AD last year) taking a break from commercials to concentrate on his feature film debut, it could have been a quiet year for Academy. It wasn't - which is one of the reasons why Academy was our runner-up for the year 2000.
Despite Glazer's absence, the managing director, Lizie Gower, ensured the company was still top of creatives' lists. In addition to its strong reputation, culture and management structure, Academy has a healthy roster of 11 directors who between them shot 85 ads last year.
Some of the award-winners include Frederic Planchon's effects extravaganza for breathe.com, Walter Stern's beautiful Volkswagen 'heaven' spot and Peter Cattaneo's 'city match' Adidas ad.
Chris Dada's career has had a spectacular boost at Academy, as proved by his brilliantly executed Heinz work, while the new signing David Kellogg also looks likely to have a great year ahead.
And Academy's relationships with Propaganda and Satellite Films resulted in the top US directors Spike Jonze and Dante Ariola directing in the UK, as well as ensuring a steady stream of international work for the London office in both commercials and music videos.
Harry Nash has had a storming year creatively, as reflected by its reel and the fact that it was ranked the tenth best production company worldwide at Cannes. This is quite a feat considering it was only born in June 1999, when the managing director, Julia Reed, transformed it from its previous incarnation, The End.
Yet Harry Nash has a mixed reputation and despite a roster of 15, the reel is dominated by just two directors - the brilliant and hotly demanded Frederik Bond and Ringan Ledwidge. It remains to be seen whether the new signing Andy Morahan will alter this.
Outsider was also impressive this year, despite the tragic death of one of its finest talents, the director Jhoan Camitz. Under the managing director, Robert Campbell, the company scored creative successes with work for ONdigital and the Army by Paul Gay, as well as Levi's 'flirt' by the music video duo Dom & Nic. Recent signings, including the music promo talent Pedro Romhanyi, have yet to reap creative rewards but the company is ideally placed to build on its excellent peer-rating in 2001.
Finally, Stark broke its reputation as a solid workhorse by producing some of the year's more quirky and challenging ads, including spots for Tango, Batchelors and PetsPyjamas. The managing director, Stephen Gash, also strengthened the company, signing Jon Greenhalgh from Godman and Colin Gregg from Eclipse.
Recent winners: Gorgeous (1999); Academy (1998); Godman (1997); Blink (1996); Paul Weiland Films (1995).