The 30 most creative people in advertising

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susan hoffman Wieden + Kennedy W+K's Susan Hoffman is back in the ranking again this year.

"Madison Avenue" may not still be where adland is based, but plenty of creatives are still keeping the spirit of advertising's glory years alive with their campaigns.

From glitzy Super Bowl spots, to apps that save lives, Business Insider's pick of the most creative people in the advertising industry in 2016 includes a portfolio of truly innovative work from across the globe.

Methodology: Earlier this year we put out a call for the advertising world to send in its nominations. To prevent nominations from being self-serving, we also asked each agency to nominate someone from a competing agency or brand. We also researched recent award winners, and the creatives who have generated new and buzzworthy work.

For the ranking, factors we considered included recognition within the industry, seniority in their respective agencies, size of the shop, and standout creative work that has garnered attention outside the advertising world over the past 12 months.

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30. Kathleen Swanson, creative director at Anomaly LA

30. Kathleen Swanson, creative director at Anomaly LA

Swanson recently wrote Gatorade's Emmy-nominated retirement film for Peyton Manning, which was based on the hundreds of handwritten notes he had sent to family, teammates, and friends during his NFL career.

She joined Anomaly from TBWA\Chiat\Day LA in July this year.

Back at her former agency, she was also working on the Airbnb account and worked on the home sharing site's biggest global ad to date, "Never a Stranger,"  plus a Disney "Jungle Book"-inspired ad that showed treehouses you can rent on the site.

The "Dear Peyton" spot

 

29. William Esparza, executive creative director at R/GA Hustle

29. William Esparza, executive creative director at R/GA Hustle

Esparza was a teenage graffiti artist but after graduating at the Art Center College of Design he jumped into the ad industry, working at agencies including MAL, The Martin Agency, Cutwater, and TBWA\Chiat\Day.

At RGA Hustle, Esparza has been particularly instrumental in driving the agency's partnership with Apple's Beats.

The agency brought home a haul of nine Cannes Lions awards this year for its "Straight Outta Somewhere" meme generator, which allowed people to create their own NWA-style logos. More than 9 million memes were created, with everyone from The White House to other brands, such as Snickers, taking part.

 

The "Straight Outta Somewhere" meme generator tied in with the release of the "Straight Outta Compton" movie.

 

28. Jason M. Peterson, chief creative officer at Havas Chicago

28. Jason M. Peterson, chief creative officer at Havas Chicago

Big campaigns from Peterson in recent months include sending Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" on his final journey — to Mars — and #SaidNoSchoolEver for Hefty, which sarcastically called out a lack of school funding in the US.

A keen photographer, Peterson also runs a hugely popular Instagram page, with more than 750,000 followers, while around 100,000 people follow him on Snapchat.

Through his social media accounts, he has collaborated with Lollapalooza and Chicago Bulls on photo shoots.

"The Most Interesting Man in the World" takes his final journey.

 

27 & 26. Alec Brownstein, VP of creative and Matt Knapp, creative director at Dollar Shave Club's in-house agency, The Agency

27 & 26. Alec Brownstein, VP of creative and Matt Knapp, creative director at Dollar Shave Club's in-house agency, The Agency

This creative duo are responsible for all of Dolllar Shave Club's ads including its "Zeke" Super Bowl spot, the "What the FAQ" series featuring highly embellished versions of real customer questions, and the "Big Cloud" campaign, which launched the brand's skincare line.

The two both come from agency experience where they have picked up a string of creative advertising awards, including Cannes Lions, One Show Pecils, Clios, and Webbys.

Dollar Shave Club was acquired for more than $1 billion by Unilever in July.

Here's the fun Super Bowl spot.

 

25. Alyson Warshaw, chief creative officer of Laundry Service and Cycle

25. Alyson Warshaw, chief creative officer of Laundry Service and Cycle

Warshaw is responsible for all creative at social media agency Laundry Service and she's in charge of content at Cycle, which works with social influencers and professional athletes.

One of her standout pieces of work was the LG V10 launch campaign, which the agency says was the most successful campaign in the brand's history, delivering 425 million impressions and 70 million engagements. It included an activation with skateboarder and MTV star Ryan Sheckler and a separate campaign featuring 30 influencers.

In May, she was named "Content Marketer of the Year" at Digiday's annual content marketing awards.

The LG V10 campaign saw content distributed across Ryan Sheckler's social channels.

 

24. Jay Russell, chief creative officer at GSD&M

24. Jay Russell, chief creative officer at GSD&M

Russell was named one of the "30 most influential people in food" this year by Adweek, thanks to his work with brands like Chipotle, Whole Foods, Avocados from Mexico, and Popeyes.

Outside of food, he also leads creative work on brands as diverse as Southwest Airlines, Goodyear, and the US Airforce.

And outside of work, he cofounded a sparkling water brand Rambler, which is set to launch at some point this year.

Here is the GSD&M Super Bowl ad Russell helped create for Avocados in Mexico

 

23. Sergio Gordilho, co-president and chief creative officer at Africa

23. Sergio Gordilho, co-president and chief creative officer at Africa

Gordilho originally studied as an architect and has tried his hand at being a cartoonist, illustrator, and graphic designer.

In 2015, Gordilho was named one of the most influential admen in Brazil, according to GQ, he was inducted into the National Marketing Hall of Fame by the Brazilian Academy of Marketing Abramark, and he was ranked number one in Archive Magazine's international creative director rankings.

In the past two years, he has helped the team win 20 Cannes Lions and 2 Grand Prix at the Clio Sports Awards.

 

Here's some recent work Gordilho led for ESPN: "Invisible Players"

 

22. Nils Leonard, free agent

22. Nils Leonard, free agent

Until June, Leonard was the chairman and chief creative officer at Grey London. But he — along with chief executive Lucy Jameson and managing director Natlie Graeme — departed to reportedly launch their own business.

Stand-out creative pieces led by Leonard this year included long-copy outdoor ads that described famous artworks for Tate Britain, a "To The Pub" film series celebrating the Great British institution for Greene King IPA, and a campaign that saw washing up liquid brand Fairy interview children and parents about why women do more housework.

Leonard also garnered attention at Cannes Lions this year by interviewing Iggy Pop on stage, shirtless.

"To The Pub" was created to encourage people to get down their local boozer.

 

21. Debbi Vandeven, global chief creative officer, VML

21. Debbi Vandeven, global chief creative officer, VML

Vandeven joined VML in 200 and is responsible for all its global creative output.

Her recent credits include a series of PSAs for the International Olympic Committee and a series of parody videos for Wendy's. 

VML came in at No.9 on AdAge's 2016 agency "A-List," having doubled in size and winning accounts including Motorola, Kellogg's Kashi the IOC, and Keurig. 2016 was also a record year for VML at Cannes, with the agency picking up 11 Lions.

VML's most-awarded work was for a Gatorade Super Bowl Snapchat Lens, which earned a Gold Lion, a Silver Lion, and a Bronze Lion.

The Gatorade Snapchat Lens was viewed more than 160 million times

 

20. Colin Jeffery, chief creative officer at David&Goliath Los Angeles

20. Colin Jeffery, chief creative officer at David&Goliath Los Angeles

Jeffery has spent the last nine years at David & Goliath, looking after brands including Kia, Coca-Cola, Beats by Dre, Universal Studios, and NFL Media.

D&G has produced some memorable work for Kia recently, including its "Soul Hamsters" campaign and Super Bowl ad "Walken Closet," starring Christopher Walken and his sock puppet friends

Aside from Kia, Jeffery has led D&G's work with burger chain Jack in the Box, including a spot set at sea, depicting its mascot as an explorer.

Jeffery also featured in Adweek's Creative 100 list this year.

The Christopher Walken Super Bowl spot for Kia:

 

19 & 18. José and Joaquín Mollá, cofounders and co-chief creative officers at The Community/La Comunidad

19 & 18. José and Joaquín Mollá, cofounders and co-chief creative officers at The Community/La Comunidad

Over the past year, the agency has won more than 80 creative awards, including Cannes Lions and One Show Pencils. It was also recognized by AdAge as the "Multicultural Agency of the Year."

Last year, Joaquín spent much of his time in Argentina, helping with Mauricio Macri's presidential campaign. Macri wasn't expected to win, but did, and took office in December.

As far as more traditional campaigns are concerned, the two brothers have worked on a spot for Verizon that saw the agency recreate the Kelis "Milkshake" music video to promote the network's prepaid phone packages.

They were also the creatives behind Corono Extra's "Dear Summer" campaign that brought to life "Winter" as a character, explaining how it feels about Summer. The ad was only meant to air in the Hispanic market, but the campaign was so successful, it ran in the national general market too.

 

 

 

Here's the Verizon "A Better Prepaid" spot:

 

17. Susan Hoffman, executive creative director at Wieden+Kennedy Portland

17. Susan Hoffman, executive creative director at Wieden+Kennedy Portland

Hoffman, alongside the partners at W+K Portland, manages the core creative work within the agency.

Recent campaigns coming out from the shop include Nike's "Unlimited" Olympics campaigns, celebrating extraordinary athletes like the 86-year-old Iron Man-competing nun.

Hoffman has also led creative on Secret Deodrant's recent campaigns that aim to challenge cultural norms. W+K also helped launch the Galaxy S7 with a surreal ad called "Dreams."

Here's that Dreams ad.

 

16. Katie Stanners, Saatchi & Saatchi global CEO

16. Katie Stanners, Saatchi & Saatchi global CEO

Stanners was promoted to become Saatchi's global chief creative officer in April this year, having previously been the agency's London CCO. 

She leads the creative direction for clients including Procter & Gamble, Mondelez, Toyota, and Visa.

Saatchi London won a Gold, five Silver, and three Bronze Lions at Cannes this year. The highlight was "Sea Hero Quest," a mobile game that helped Deutsche Telekom collate data for dementia research.

The Sea Hero Quest game:

 

15. Gerry Graf, founder and chief creative officer at Barton. F. Graf

15. Gerry Graf, founder and chief creative officer at Barton. F. Graf

Graf is the founder and creative leader at Barton F. Graf.

Big campaigns for Graf this year included a spot for Supercell to promote its "Boom Beach" game, which became one of YouTube's most-watched ads in December.

There was also an "absurdist" set of ads for Snyder's of Hanover pretzels, a "Clash of Clans" spot featuring Christoph Waltz telling James Corden a bedtime story, and a campaign for Bai drinks that "makes no sense," (on purpose, to make a point) according to Adweek.

Graf received the biggest number of nominations from competing agencies this year.

The "Unfairy Tales" campaign won a Gold in the Cyber category at Cannes.

 

14 & 13. Eduardo Marques and Rafael Rizuto, executive creative directors at 180LA

14 & 13. Eduardo Marques and Rafael Rizuto, executive creative directors at 180LA

Marques and Rizuto are  joint executive creative directors at 180LA and joined the agency in March 2015.

Within a year of joining the company, the agency has become the most-awarded agency in the TBWA Network Worldwide, taking home 10 Lions at Cannes this year.

Recent projects include UNICEF's UNfairy Tales, an animated series that brought to life the stories of children caught up in the Syrian crisis, and "Dream Adventures" for Expedia, which used 360-degree video to take children battling cancer at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on vacation.

The duo are also said to have helped the agency win key accounts including Miller Lite and Asics Global.

Here's that Bai drinks commercial

12. Karen Costello, EVP and executive creative director at Deutsch

12. Karen Costello, EVP and executive creative director at Deutsch

Costello's work this year has included working with Gwen Stefani to create the "first ever live music video" at the 2016 Grammys for Target.

More recently, she worked on Target's 2016 back-to-school TV commercials, which were written and directed by kids

She has recently worked on a docu-style ad for Angel Soft that paid tribute to single moms on Father's Day and a tearjerker of a follow-up ad, "Grander Parents," which told the story of grandparents who look after their son's daughter when he goes to jail.

 

The "Grander Parents" spot:

 

11. David Lubars, chief creative officer at BBDO Worldwide

11. David Lubars, chief creative officer at BBDO Worldwide

Lubars has been listed as the world's most-awarded chief creative officer two times in the past four years — and this year he was the runner up. During his career he has personally won over 100 One Show pencils and 100 Cannes Lions.

He joined BBDO in 2004, helping the agency be named "agency of the year" by various trade publications 15 times during his tenure — most recently as Adweek's 2015 US agency of the year and Campaign's 2015 network on the year. BBDO was also ranked the number one agency in the Gunn Report, which compiles the most-awarded campaigns.

As far as work is concerned, Lubars recently helped create AT&T's "Close to Home" ad as part of its "It Can Wait" campaign, which aims to stop drivers using their smartphones whilst behind the wheel.

Other recent work includes the "Candyman" remix to celebrate 75 years of M&Ms, a fun billboard ad for Snickers for what would have been Marilyn Monroe's 90th birthday, and a neat idea using Russian nesting dolls for fitness chain Brick, designed to help people keep track of their workout plans.

AT&T's hard-hitting "Close to Home" ad.

 

10. Pam Scheideler, partner and chief creative officer at Deutsch LA

10. Pam Scheideler, partner and chief creative officer at Deutsch LA

Scheideler became partner and chief digital officer of Deutsch LA's office in February this year, looking after a team of more than 200 employees.

She has also been one of the brain's behind Deutsch's most talked-about recent work. From Volkswagen's "Unleash Your rrr" that allowed users to record videos of themselves making revving and brake screeching noises in order to control a car; Taco Bell's AI TacoBot that let customers order their food via Slack (and won a Bronze Lion); and Target's "Share The Force" online time capsule. 

 

Volkswagen's "Unleash Your Rrrr" analyzed your vocal pitch to create a customized video of a Golf R driving around a race track.

 

9. Shaun Mcilrath, global chief creative officer at Iris Worldwide

9. Shaun Mcilrath, global chief creative officer at Iris Worldwide

Previously executive creative director for the UK, McIlrath became Iris' chief creative officer in February this year.

He's now supporting and fronting some of Iris' eye-catching work from around the world.

He helped the New York team win Clio's "Creative Bowl" award for the Jeep "Portraits" Super Bowl ad. He also led creative on a campaign for fruit drink Purdey's starring Idris Elba reminding grown-ups they still have time to achieve their potential. 

Meanwhile, Iris UK was named integrated agency of the year by Campaign at the end of 2015 and it was also named the best "#DoDifferent" agency at the Marketing Agencies Association's awards earlier this year.

Mcilrath also helped lead this fun campaign for NESCAFÉ Original, surprising a man on his way to work.

 

8. Margaret Johnson, executive creative director at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.

8. Margaret Johnson, executive creative director at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.

Johnson has been with the agency for 20 years. In 2012 she became GS&P's first female partner and in 2015 she moved into her role of executive creative director. 

In her first year of taking over GS&P's creative department, she helped the agency win 13 Cannes Lions and was listed as one of AdAge's "Standout" agencies of 2015. AdAge also listed Johnson as one of its "women to watch" for 2016.

Some of Johnson's recent credits include "Emilys Oz" for Comcast/XFINITY, an ad that showed how a girl who is blind reimagined "The Wizard of Oz"; an Oculus Rift experience for the Dali Museum; anti-cyberbullying campaign "#I Am a Witness for the Ad Council; and Doritos Rainbows, which were inspired by the LGBT Pride flag.

The Emily's Oz campaign has notched up more than 7.6 million views on YouTube.

 

7. Will McGinness, partner and executive creative director at Venables Bell & Partners

7. Will McGinness, partner and executive creative director at Venables Bell & Partners

McGinness has been behind a number of the most talked-about pieces of creative over the past year.

For Google, McGinness led creative on an incredibly uplifting ad about a transgender man's transition. It won The New York Festivals' Finalist Award.

Elsewhere, he helped create Reebok's "Be More Human" brand platform, including the "Perfect" spot starring Ronda Rousey; he led creative on Audi's "Commander" Super Bowl spot; and he helped REI create the campaign that saw it close its stores on Black Friday to inspire its employees to embrace the outdoors.

The REI campaign took home the Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes and the One Show's Best in Show.

 

This video explains REI's "#OptOutside" campaign

 

6. Nick Law, chief creative officer at R/GA

6. Nick Law, chief creative officer at R/GA

Law was promoted to vice chairman of R/GA in April this year. When his promotion was announced, R/GA chairman and CEO Robert Greenberg praised Law, saying: "Under his leadership, we will continue our relentless pursuit of innovation far into the future."

His recent credits include a spot fronted by WWE wrestler John Cena for The Ad Council's long-standing "Love Has No Labels" series and an E-Trade ad featuring Kevin Spacey showing off his repertoire of accents.

This month, R/GA also picked up an Emmy for its previous "Love Has No Labels" spot, which showed skeletons dancing and embracing behind an X-ray screen, before walking in front of the screen to reveal themselves as couples with different races, religions, and disabilities. The ad has been viewed more than 160 million times.

Here's the Emmy-winning "Love Has No Labels" ad:

 

5, 4, & 3. Danny Brooke-Taylor, Helen Calcraft, and Andy Nairn, founding partners at Lucky Generals

5, 4, & 3. Danny Brooke-Taylor, Helen Calcraft, and Andy Nairn, founding partners at Lucky Generals

British agency Lucky Generals launched in 2013 with no clients but has since picked up some of the most enviable accounts out there.

Lucky Generals is the agency of record for bookmaker Paddy Power, has produced hilarious spots for Pot Noodle, and it won the Twitter UK business, producing an online film to capture the 20-something female market.

Perhaps its most memorable work has been for Amazon, with Lucky Generals producing a number of humorous spots starring its newest talent, Jeremy Clarkson.

Advertising trade publication Campaign gave Lucky Generals a score of 8/10 in this year's "School Reports," up from a 7 last year.

Lucky Generals produced this spot for Amazon:

 

2. Ben Priest, chief creative officer at Adam&Eve/DDB

2. Ben Priest, chief creative officer at Adam&Eve/DDB

London-based shop Adam&Eve/DDB won 15 Lions at Cannes last year.

The haul included a Grand Prix for its Harvey Nichols shoplifting ad, which showed real CCTV footage of people stealing from the retailer's stores, but with cartoon villain heads super-imposed on top.

The agency, led by Priest in the creative department, also picked up a Grand Prix for its "Monty's Christmas" John Lewis ad and a gold for its John Lewis Home Insurance Spot, which showed an accident-prone girl dancing around her house to the soundtrack of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer."

Other recent credits include a fun spot for VW showing kids' embarrassment as they are taken on the school run, Skittles shedding their colors to support London Pride, and a Christmas spot poking fun at people who dress their pets up for the holidays for Temptations.

The award-winning Harvey Nichols ad:

 

1. Ted Royer, chief creative officer at Droga5

1. Ted Royer, chief creative officer at Droga5

Droga5 came away from Cannes Lions 2016 with the "independent agency on the year" award for the second time running. Royer also appeared on AdAge's Creativity 50 All Stars list.

Standout recent work led by Royer included a beautiful story for Hennessy about August Piccard, the first man to reach the earth's stratosphere, and his son, the man who has reached the deepest depth of the ocean.

Royer has continued to produce strong creative work for Under Armour, including a stunt boosting Stephen Curry's stats in the NBA 2K16, a tie-up with Ridley Scott's "The Martian," and an ad showing Michael Phelps' grueling training regime

Elsewhere, Royer helped produce a gritty spot for YMCA to show how it helps transform deprived communities.

 

The beautiful Piccards advert for Hennessy.

 

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