When it comes to the advertising industry, having a creative approach to work is crucial. Indeed, the success of an ad agency or an ad campaign largely revolves around the ability of the creatives behind the campaign to create effective, engaging content that is capable of targeting the viewer’s attention.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most influential creative directors in the advertising world and how their advertising campaigns have helped to improve brand awareness for the teams they’re representing. Indeed, these individuals are among the most effective in their respective fields of marketing – and we could all learn a thing or two from their effective marketing campaigns to implement for our own content marketing efforts.
Top 10 Advertising Creatives – Who Are They And Why Are They Famous?
The following list of the top ten advertising creatives are an absolute inspiration, and their example can offer excellent opportunities for other individuals in the advertising agency and digital marketing fields.
#10 Bill Bernbach, DDB Worldwide
DDB Worldwide, with Bill Bernbach on their side, were a driving force behind the advertising industry’s creative revolution, and are argued to be the founders of modern advertising methods. Indeed, the influence of Bill Bernbach and the rest of the team at DDB Worldwide have absolutely been a crucial players in the creation of effective advertising campaigns – and so, we would be remiss to give the tenth spot on our list to anyone other than the “Godfather of creative advertising,” as Forbes once described him.
#9 James Millers, Creative Director for Leo Burnett
Coming in at ninth on our list of the best advertising industry creatives is James Millers, who serves as the creative director for Leo Burnett, a London-based brand, whose work on this year’s most recent McDonald’s campaign – along with a reputation for providing a variety of effective and influential marketing campaigns aside from this – has helped boost the brand to new heights. Notably for Millers, his unique approach to playful and fun creativity in his work coupled with a minimalistic style, have demonstrated effectively how content marketing can be taken in any direction with the right team and resources. Indeed, there’s no one rule for effective content marketing – and James Millers’ work proves this point.
#8 Andrew Bell, Technology Research Fellow, The Barbarian Group
Although not a creative director, and with a role currently as a technology research fellow for the Barbarian Group, Bell’s contributions to the creative field are still numerous. Indeed, while working at the Mill as a creative technologist, his contributions were pivotal during Apple‘s “iTunes visualizer” campaign. Furthermore, he has been responsible for creating a wide variety of different content development technologies such as Cinder, award-winning technology that has gone on to help a huge number of big-name brands – from Wieden + Kennedy through to Microsoft – with their own content marketing. As such, Bell’s contributions to the wider creative advertising field – though indirectly – absolutely deserve him a spot on this top ten list as one of the most influential individuals in advertising.
#7 Whit Hiler and Griffin VanMeter, Creatives for Cornet-IMS
The success of a creative in the advertising industry absolutely must be measured by the impact that their efforts have on their target market. Changing a state motto to something entirely different is certainly something we think proves this effect – and this is exactly what Whit Hiler (with help from his “partner in crime”, Griffin VanMeter) pulled off in their unorthodox Beardvertisement campaign for the Dollar Shave Club.
As such, thanks to the demonstration of teamwork and how thinking outside of the box can be effective, as well as for the overall success of this unique and memorable campaign, we’ve awarded Whit Hiler the seventh spot on our list of the best advertising industry creatives.
#6 Elvis Chau, Executive Creative Director, JWT Shanghai
When it comes to our list of the top ten creative directors, we’re following on with Elvis Chau: the executive creative director for JWT Shanghai. His success with JWT Shanghai was particularly seen in 2011, when the team achieved extensive global recognition after their truly stellar performance at the Cannes Lions festival.
During this festival, a number of different creative ideas were competing for the award as the most coveted marketing agency. The team won the Grand Prix Lion award, which represents the growing influence of Chinese teams and their creative strategies from a global perspective. However, winning the Grand Prix Lion award wasn’t the team’s only success; in fact, JWT Shanghai actually won three gold, a silver, and two bronze Lion awards.
The most notable marketing campaign for JWT Shanghai and Elvis Chau has to be the unique advertisement for Maxam toothpaste. Sparing no expense, the advertising campaign features an exceptionally detailed image of a decaying tooth in the structure of the colosseum; an eye-catching and inspirational marketing campaign that perfectly demonstrates why creativity is so influential in the creation of effective marketing services.
This impressive collection of Lion awards demonstrates the team’s phenomenal ability to work with each other’s strengths to provide top-class advertising and creative marketing services. However, we didn’t pick Chau and JWT Shanghai for their awards alone. Indeed, any team with enough skill could win awards. The difference with JWT Shanghai is their dedication to improving their own team’s skills.
As part of achieving this, Elvis Chau was influential in the team’s investment in creative training across the entire team, promoting the skills of every creative within the advertising agency. This is something that we think especially highly of; indeed, while this represented a massive amount of investment for the business, it’s something that’s crucial for improving the brand’s services.
As such, for his successes in the marketing industry at the Cannes Lions festival and his dedication to improving the skills of JWT Shanghai’s marketing team, we’ve given the sixth spot on this list to Elvis Chau.
#5 John Mescall, Executive Creative Director for McCann Australia
Next up on our list is John Mescall of McCann Australia, whose contributions have been pivotal in the establishment of the brand as one of Australia’s most successful marketing agencies, along with his ability to create one of the catchiest advertising campaigns ever published.
Without a doubt, Mescall’s top marketing campaign with McCann Australia has to be the smash hit campaign for the Melbourne public transport system, “Dumb Ways to Die”. The campaign is one that very few people from around the world don’t know; indeed, his work on this hugely well-known campaign has not only increased brand awareness for McCann Australia, but also won a huge number of awards and played a genuinely important role in ensuring members of the public stay cautious while using public transport.
While John Mescall’s creative marketing work is a little different to the other campaigns on this list, the incredible success of this globally known campaign (with well over 60 million views on Youtube alone, before even mentioning spin offs taking inspiration from the catchy song) means he absolutely deserves a spot on this list. Mescall’s work as creative marketing director for McCann Australia goes to show how thinking outside of the box and working with top creativity can ensure the best possible success for your advertising agency!
#4 Anselmo Ramos, Executive Creative Director for Ogilvy & Mather Brazil
As executive creative director for Ogilvy and Mather Brazil, Anselmo Ramos’ contributions to the marketing and advertising industry are numerous. His time in the industry has seen him travel around the globe while working for many different brands, including for Lowe New York and Y&R in Lisbon, Madrid, and Miami.
Anselmo Ramos has been a key player behind numerous well-known creative marketing campaigns, but arguably the most highly regarded of these has to be his work for Dove. During the advertising campaign, which was designed to help promote Dove as a brand that looks out for its customers and improve the overall customer experience and trust, Ramos hired an FBI-trained sketch artist to create visual representations based on how women saw themselves, compared to how they actually looked. These Dove advertising campaigns were called “Real Beauty Sketches.” They would go on to be an engaging and inspirational advertising campaign that would help spread the messages of self worth and self value – certainly a big promotion for the Dove brand.
So, what was it about Ramos’ work that made us choose him for the fourth place on this list? Well, his unique approach to advertising, coupled with his phenomenal reputation and influence in boosting Ogilvy‘s Brazilian office from 47th in the company’s internal rankings for creativity all the way up to the number one spot, are absolutely worth considering. In short, Ramos and his brand awareness campaigns working as creative director for Ogilvy‘s Brazilian office are nothing short of inspirational for other marketing agencies.
#3 Stephen McMennamy and Alex Russell, Creative Directors for BBDO
Coming in at third on our list of the best creative directors are Stephen McMennamy and Alex Russel, who together serve as creative directors for BBDO. Under their guidance, the brand is one of the biggest award-winning names in the marketing industry. They have been the recipient of a staggering number of Cannes Lion awards, including five Grand Prix awards, twelve gold, twenty-three silver, and thirty-eight bronze. Furthermore, it won the “Network of the Year” award at the Cannes Lion festival for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2017, and 2018; they also won the “Network of the Decade” award for 2020. These are just a few of the brand’s successes, going to show just how excellent their reputation is.
The brand is also notable for its partnership with numerous high-calibre global clients, including M&Ms, Plenty, Bodyform, Windex, Asda, and more.
BBDO is a massive marketing agency, and the abilities of McMennamy and Russell to manage these campaigns were highly influential as such. Today, we’re primarily focusing on their renowned “It’s not complicated” campaign, which is unanimously well-accepted by both other marketing industry experts and members of the public alike.
The “It’s not complicated” campaign was ongoing and showed excellent success for the brand. As such, McMennamy and Russell were evidently able to create a strong relationship between the marketing agency and the client, thanks to the long-term partnership the campaign launched. In addition, we think it’s notable that the partnership between two marketing directors helped to improve the overall success of the campaign; after all, many hands make light work!
Moreover, the campaign’s unique ability to connect with the target audience made it highly effective, and this is something that we think is hugely important in terms of campaign success.
#2 Gordy Sang and Brian Siedband, Senior Art Director and Senior Copywriter for Deutsch LA
Coming in at second on our list of the top picks for the best advertising industry creatives, we chose a slightly different approach. Indeed, Gordy Sang and Brian Siedband are two highly influential individuals in the creative industry whose collaboration with one another has made their creative work across social media, e-commerce, and digital advertising platforms highly notable.
The most notable marketing campaign for this duo has to be their work on the “Viva Young” campaign for Taco Bell, which played during the Super Bowl. This unique campaign was the result of the pair’s close collaboration and was much more casual than one might expect from many marketing campaigns; this actually made it exceptionally effective, and the pair would go on to implement this unique style in their future marketing strategies as well. These would include their highly successful “Cubs Win”, Chicago-inspired campaign for PlayStation.
So, why did we choose Sang and Siedband for the second spot on our list of the best creatives? The main influence for us was their determination to provide top-quality marketing material, despite neither actually being a creative director. Nonetheless, by working closely together and making the most of each other’s skills as a graphic design director and copywriter, they were still able to create unique and highly effective marketing campaigns – perfectly demonstrating how influential teamwork is when it comes to marketing success.
#1 Mark Fitzloff and Susan Hoffman, Executive Creative Directors for Wieden + Kennedy Portland
As our top pick for the best advertising industry creative directors, who could be more appropriate than Mark Fitzloff and Susan Hoffman of Wieden + Kennedy Portland? For three years straight, the duo was ranked as the best and most highly-awarded creative directors globally, and their work has invariably gone on to inspire a whole new generation of professional creatives. Indeed, while Fitzloff is unfortunately now working in a management role instead, the contributions of the duo to the interactive advertising niche are still highly relevant for all digital marketing creatives nowadays!
So, what are the marketing campaigns that made the Fitzloff-Hoffman duo so famous as some of the world’s most effective creative marketing experts? Well, there were two campaigns in particular that contributed to their success: The Best Job commercial for Procter & Gamble, and the Find Your Greatness campaign (and, especially, the “Jogger” advert) for Nike.
Granted, they were ranked as the best digital marketing creative team for three years straight – but for us, that’s not enough to earn the top spot on this list alone. Indeed, we’ve taken a few things into consideration when picking this duo as our number one ad campaign team, and these include the following points.
Firstly, we need to consider their reputation and influence. Indeed, Fitzloff and Hoffman have both developed a phenomenal reputation for offering top-quality creative advertising, and they offer a valuable case study for the importance of developing a strong relationship between the marketing agency and the client. Indeed, the team created numerous commercials for Nike in particular, with commercials still being released by the agency to this day in 2021, and these were all highly praised by both advertising creatives and the public.
In addition, it’s worth noting how collaborating together helped improve the overall efficacy of the marketing campaigns. Indeed, the duo are widely regarded as the best creative marketers ever; their close cooperation is largely the result of this.
What’s more, Wieden + Kennedy are well known for “ignoring all the rules of advertising,” and once again, this passion for providing innovative interactive advertising largely stems from Fitzloff and Hoffman’s early work with establishing the marketing agency‘s excellent reputation.
How was this ranking created?
At this point, it’s important that we clarify how we picked our top ten advertising creatives and creative directors. Indeed, with so many people to choose between, it’s fair to say that we had quite the task on our hands; however, in our opinion, the top ten advertising industry copywriters and creatives needed to show the following traits to be selected for this ranking:
- They needed to show a unique passion for their advertising agency. Now, this might seem obvious, but it’s an important point. The individuals we have picked for this list of the best creatives and creative directors are people who have demonstrated a real passion for their job and the company they work for. For our top ten creatives, marketing is more than just a job role: it’s their raison d’aitre, as it were.
- They need to be someone you’d want to work with. Indeed, while there are probably many exceptional creatives out there who didn’t make this list, if a creative isn’t amenable and approachable, are they really the right people to be taking inspiration from? As such, for this list, we’ve picked out the creative agency experts who are the go-to choices for companies looking for creative work. Our top ten choices are people who are friendly with prospective clients and who want to help their customers find the right options.
- They are someone who clients can build a relationship with. Inevitably, the best digital marketing and advertising providers are teams who can form relationships with their clients. After all, agency networks need to ensure that their clients are getting the best marketing services possible – and as part of this, a good relationship between the marketer and their client is vital. Earning the client’s trust is a crucial part of any successful marketing strategy, then, and that’s why we’ve looked for this specifically from our picks of the top ten advertising industry creatives.
- They are people who know how to accept help. This might seem like a strange point for us to put on our selection criteria for the best advertising creatives, but it’s a crucial one nonetheless. Indeed, the best agency networks – and their directors – are those who know how to accept help. Furthermore, they know how to find the right people to help. A good creative director is, thus, someone who is able to hire copywriters, graphic design experts, and other creative staff whose unique skills provide the right balance for effective teamwork. An individual can’t do it all alone, and as the old adage goes, “there’s no I in team.” As such, a key measure of a creative agency‘s success has to be its ability to select the right team.
- They are influential in their creative agency‘s successes. A great creative agency is only as good as its staff, as we mentioned before. To this end, our picks for the best advertising creatives also needed to demonstrate their contributions to their respective brands, marketing campaigns, or advertising agencies. But that’s not all. Indeed, for our top ten selection, we wanted creatives whose unique contributions were paramount to the success of their firm or project. As such, every individual we’ve listed above as one of our top ten choices has demonstrated their abilities through case studies in such a way that their employer or agency simply wouldn’t be able to offer the same standard of marketing without their contributions. Whether they were co-founders for new start-up companies that became a big deal thanks to their influence, or if their contributions helped to transform an existing brand to new heights, our top picks are all individuals whose support has transformed the successes of their represented company or non-profit.
So, we’ve looked at our picks for the top ten advertising creatives, and summarized how we selected these individuals. Of course, it’s worth considering that these are only a handful of the world’s most successful advertising creatives, and there are a plethora of other case studies out there detailing the tremendous work that’s done as part of the advertising field.
Nonetheless, we believe that these top ten picks have a certain je ne sais quoi about them; they’re the people who have revolutionized their respective brands or advertising agencies, and we can all learn a thing or two from them and their successes.