Meet the next leaders of British commercial creativity who are making culture

Meet the next leaders of British commercial creativity who are making culture

They pen novels, do stand-up, write screenplays. They are the dreamers, the hustlers, the new blood reviving Britain's advertising scene. They're hungry for fun, they sometimes want to make work that looks nothing like ads, and they will redefine this industry. The future has arrived: meet the next leaders of British commercial creativity...

Check your pulse. Got one? Then you’ll enjoy this ride. And if your heartbeat is less a lusty, hungry throb and more a quiet, lazy flutter, here’s defibrillation: a showcase of the best of British commercial creativity that’s shaping our culture.

The UK has a joyous serving of creative talent. Forget the jazzy appeal of new industries and tech start-ups that are baying for the sort of brilliant minds that advertising used to hook almost by default; the ad industry still draws much, much more than its fair share of creative mavericks and culture shapers.

Nominated by Campaign

Genevieve de Rohan Willner
Adam & Eve/DDB

De Rohan Willner was previously a graphic designer at Elle. She and her creative partner, Selma Ahmed, share a vision for making non-traditional advertising. "We excel in things that are very visual and stylistic. Those two things are important together," she says. "I see myself working in advertising – whatever this new thing advertising will be. That hasn’t been brought to life yet."

Nominated by Campaign
Choose a creative to find out more

And here they are, a new generation of creative leaders, a fresh crew in charge who are full of expansive ideas, optimism and, goddammit, life.  

Even better, they’re high on the breadth of talent coming up behind them. British advertising creativity is starting to hum again. It feels good.

Hannah Tarpey
Bartle Bogle Hegarty London

Before she joined BBH London last year, Tarpey started out at Mother, where a highlight was creating an Ikea ad that featured monkeys let loose in a kitchen. "I want to make work that makes the world a little bit better. Maybe it sounds naive or worthy but the best creativity changes things," she says. "We’re all honing skills that have the potential to do a lot of good."

Nominated by Ana and Hermeti Balarin, Mother

Sarah Levitt

"I still feel like the new girl," Levitt says of her job in advertising. But she has made an impressive start with work such as the Women’s Equality Party "#OutOfOffice" campaign, which encouraged people to use their out-of-office message to show solidarity on Equal Pay Day. Levitt worries that creatives have "lost our energy and enjoyment of what we do. We can do things that change the world and that’s amazing."

Nominated by Laura Jordan Bambach, Mr President

Jonas Roth

Roth and his creative partner, Rasmus Smith Bech, met in Denmark and have had stints at KesselsKramer and Grey London, where they made the Cannes- Grands-Prix-winning "Life paint" for Volvo. They moved to Channel 4’s in-house agency from Adam & Eve/DDB last month. Roth urges advertising creatives to "take more chances". He says: "Things get put in boxes because people want to follow a formula. Don’t be afraid of failing."

Nominated by Richard Brim, Adam & Eve/DDB

Rasmus Smith Bech

While at Adam & Eve/DDB, Smith Bech and Jonas Roth devised an EA Sports campaign that introduced a new skill move for Fifa 18. Called "El Tornado", the skill was taught to football star Cristiano Ronaldo, who performed the move for the game. This experience "sparked something" for Smith Bech and Roth, who later moved to 4Creative to work more closely with entertainment.

Nominated by Richard Brim, Adam & Eve/DDB

Raine Allen-Miller

The year 2017 was a breakout one for Allen-Miller, a former Mother creative turned director, whose favourite project has been the colourful "Go play" work for Asos. Though shot on a small budget, the ad’s success "gave me a lot of confidence," Allen-Miller says. She adds that, as a woman of colour, she is often sought out for diversity-themed work, "but the things that interest me are more stupid and funny". She continues: "I miss the good old-school ads that were weird. People shouldn’t take it so seriously. We’re not doing heart surgery – we can be idiots."

Nominated by David Kolbusz, Droga5 London, and Chaka Sobhani, Leo Burnett London
Choose a creative to find out more

We know – YOU know – that advertising is now a big, stretchy word. "Fearless girl", "FCK", "Metatronia", "Clowns", CALM’s male suicide statues… Advertising is words and pictures and things and places and experiences and attitudes. It’s what makes you want and love a brand. And when it’s brilliant, it’s culture. 

Tom Corcoran
Wieden & Kennedy London

Corcoran and his partner, Tom Bender, created this year’s barnstorming "Nothing beats a Londoner" ad for Nike, which won eight D&AD Pencils. The joyful, authentic portrait of the capital featured 258 real young Londoners and cameos from the likes of Mo Farah and Skepta. "We didn’t realise it would be as big as it was," he says.

Nominated by Ian Heartfield and Anthony Austin, Bartle Bogle Hegarty London

Henrik Ridderheim
Grey London

While at Grey, Ridderheim has worked on a David and Goliath spoof for Lucozade and Comic Relief’s Swear Jar app. He believes advertising has become "too serious". He says: "Now, especially, when the world is so scary, we need to do something fun and uplifting." Ridderheim is dreaming up a plan to start his own agency: "It will probably be more like the old days, when clients just came for the ideas, not the hand-holding."

Nominated by Nils Leonard, Uncommon

Tom Bender
Wieden & Kennedy London

Bender shares Tom Corcoran’s drive to change the way people view advertising. "I want to make this a rock and roll industry – we need to make it cool again so people want to work in it," he says.

Nominated by Ian Heartfield and Anthony Austin, Bartle Bogle Hegarty London

Gemma Fowler

Fowler, who met her creative partner, Neda Shadanlou, while at Karmarama, recently published a young adult science-fiction novel called Moondust. "We want to bring what we’ve been doing outside – writing, storytelling – into the industry," Fowler says. "Advertising is becoming less traditional so those skills have a place. It makes you think differently as well."

Nominated by Vicki Maguire and Caroline Pay, Grey London

Neda Shadanlou

Born in Iran, Shadanlou now volunteers with refugee children from the Middle East at the weekends, helping them to tell their stories. She recently released a short film and is developing more screenplays inspired by her Iranian heritage. "I don’t think there are enough non-Western narratives," she says.

Nominated by Vicki Maguire and Caroline Pay, Grey London
Choose a creative to find out more

No surprise, then, when the people who make this stuff on behalf of brands also make it for themselves. Their creative energy can’t be put tidily in a box when the office lights switch off at night. They’re writing books and screenplays and performing stand-up comedy and painting pictures and taking photographs and making music and…

It’s an intoxicating atmosphere. Breathe deep. And take this special issue of Campaign as a line drawn under the pessimism and uncertainty that has muted our industry’s spirit for long enough. British creativity is on the march.

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