Best Commercial Directors

The 50 Best Commercial Directors in the World

In the past, directors were not considered stars. Stars were stars, and commercial directors were just people operating in the background, doing what big brands wanted them to do.

But nowadays this has changed. Directors are hailed as the heroes of commercials and films.

And by the way: Did you know that many famous movie or music directors are behind some of the world’s most successful commercials?

But who are the true stars among the commercial directors? We’ve collected this list for you, based on the ranking of LÜRZER’S Archive. In addition, we at Filestage had a close look at the Cannes Lions, CLIO Awards, D&AD winners and much more.

1. TOM KUNTZ

He is best known for his exclusive television commercials and music videos, with colorful settings and wildly strange humans.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAt6zDr71eA

Highlights: Heineken - “The Chase”, Supercell - “Clash of Clans” and Old Spice - “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”.

Awards: DGA Awards, Emmy, Cannes Lions and many more.

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2. DOUGAL WILSON

He is well known for his iconic and recognizable commercials.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYOsWWKHZVw

Highlights: John Lewis - “Always a Woman”, “Monty’s Christmas” and Lurpak - “Adventure Awaits”.

Awards: Twice Best Director at the UK Creative and Design Awards, gold, silver and bronze Cannes Lions, D&AD Awards.

3. RINGAN LEDWIDGE

He is one of the industry’s top commercials directors with a hint of magical realism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDGrfhJH1P4

Highlights: The Guardian - “Three Little Pigs”, AXE - “Susan Glenn” and Sainsbury - “Christmas 1914”.

Awards: UK’s No. 1 Director by Campaign Magazine for the third time, second most awarded director in the world by the Gunn Report, British Arrows Awards, D&AD Awards, Cannes Lions.

4. TIM GODSALL

He is well known for his eccentric and funny spots.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq-9QBUmELA&list=PL8uGIyHBaN_R_Jwg2_fqfJqS0eOZdxibi

Highlights: Southern Comfort - “Beach”, AXE - “Lifeguard” and Clash of Clans - “Lava Pup”.

Awards: Most awarded commercial director in 2013, British Arrows Awards, John Webster Award.

5. JAMES ROUSE

James Rouse is one of the best comedy directors with a lot of ironical jokes and bittersweet sentiments in his spots.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITyeI3YyYw8

Highlights: Harvey Nichols - “Sorry, I spent it on myself”, Marmite - “Neglect” and Sainsbury - “ Mog’s Christmas Calamity”.

Awards: Gold British Arrows Awards, Cannes Gold Lions.

6. CHRIS PALMER

With his crazy ideas, he created some of the best-loved ads in recent years, and is considered the Steven Spielberg of the commercial world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7FLzSM3G5A

Highlights: Skoda - “The Baking of..”, Heineken - “Nearly There”.

Awards: British Arrows Awards, D&AD Awards, Cannes Gold Lions.

7. JOE PYTKA

He is the creator of some of the world’s most memorable television commercials.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GPxkpjCvWI

Highlights: Nike - “Bo Knows”, Budweiser - “Clydesdales” and John Hancock - “Insurance”.

Awards: DGA Commercial Direction Awards and several nominations, CLIO Award, Cannes Grand Prix.

8. PAUL MIDDLEDITCH

Paul Middleditch is one of the world’s best commercial and film director with over 200 TV commercials to his name.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wM2c3WtDjQ

Highlights: Carlton Draught - “Big Ad”, John West - “Into the Woods” and Reflex - “Print Guru”.

Awards: Cannes Lions, Award for Best Beer Ad of All Time, numerous international and national awards.

9. STEVE ROGERS

He is renowned for his dry humour and intimate cinematography.

Highlights: Old Spice - “Rocket Car”, Nike - “Snow Day and Canal+ - “The Clowns”.

Awards: Cannes Gold Lions, D&AD Awards, CLIO Awards.

10. BART TIMMER

His strength in storytelling is his extreme attention to detail and his humour.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIutgtzwhAc

Highlights: M6 Mobile - “Meeting”, Brother - “Next Time Label It” and Heineken - “Walk-In Fridge”.

Awards: Cannes Lions, CLIO Awards, named one of the top 10 directors in the world by SHOTS Magazine.

11. NOAM MURRO

He is the founder of Biscuit Filmworks. He is well known for his groundbreaking commercials and has conquered a series of tricky special effects.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJHxsAhjKAA

Highlights: Microsoft - “Halo”, Got Milk? - “Birthday” and ADIDAS - “Carry”.

Awards: DGA Awards, Cannes Gold Lions.

12. STEVE AYSON

Steve Ayson has gained a reputation for creating TV commercials people talk about after they stop airing.

Highlights: Old Spice - “Momsong” and Carlton Draught - “Beer Chase”.

Awards: DGA Awards, D&AD Yellow Pencil, Cannes Gold Lions.

13. ANTOINE BARDOU-JACQUET

He is a multi-award-winning director. His Honda – “Cog” spot is the most awarded commercial in the history of advertising.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl2U1p3fVRk

Highlights: Honda - “The Cog” and Canal+ - “The Stone”.

Awards: Gold at Shots Awards, British Arrows Awards, Cannes Lions.

14. LANCE ACORD

Lance is the co-founder and director of Park Pictures and known for emotive power in his commercials.

Highlights: Nike - “Jogger”, Volkswagen - “The Force” and P&G - “Pick them Back Up”.

Awards: Cannes Gold Lions, Emmy, several nominations for Best Commercial Director by DGA.

15. MARTIN KREJCI

His commercials are emotional and funny. Krejci’s success has to do with his offbeat visual style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozVtCwTiInI

Highlights: Smirnoff - “The Double Site”, Lurpak - “Kitchen Odyssey” and Hornbach - “Festival”.

Awards: Cannes Lions, CLIO Awards, Gold British Arrows Awards.

16. JIM JENKINS

He started making movies as a kid with an 8mm camera. Today he is one of the best directors in the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv-GSv9aZgo

Highlights: Snickers - “Focus Group 10” and FedEx - “Exchange Student”.

Awards: D&AD Wood Pencil, CLIO Awards, DGA Awards.

17. HAROLD EINSTEIN

Harold Einstein is well known for his dialogue-driven comedy style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ivVbpQu8HQ

Highlights: Crest - “Bulldozer”, Kayak.com - “Bright Man” and FedEx - “Whee”.

Awards: Cannes Gold Lions, CLIO Awards, The One Show Gold Pencil, British Arrows Awards.

18. JEFF LOW

Low is known as a master of wry sense of humor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NKvN7U5RXQ

Highlights: Pizza Hut - “Imposter” and Tena Men - “Control”.

Awards: British Arrows Awards, Cannes Lions, CLIO Award.

19. ANDREAS NILSSON

He is famous for his dark, surreal and comical style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7FIvfx5J10

Highlights: Volvo - “The Epic Style” and Comcast - “Emily’s Oz”.

Awards: DGA Awards, Cannes Lions, D&AD Black Pencil.

20. ANTHONY WONKE

Wonke’s work covers a variety of genres and is always driven by intelligence, visual flair and emotional insight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STwxD5kgwxM

Highlights: Lupark - “Beirut” and Vodafone - “Whitakers”.

Awards: Emmy, 3 BAFTA Awards.

21. ERIC LYNNE

He combines technical perfection with a personal visual style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXeLaFpx1dg

Highlights: Citroën - “The Sleeping Supporter”, HSBC - “Hole in One” and Harvey Nichols - “Could I Be Any Clearer”.

Awards: Gold and Silver Cannes Lions, British Arrows Awards, CLIO Awards, D&AD Awards.

22. HAMISH ROTHWELL

He is one of Australia’s best directors with an eye for comedy.

Highlights: Commbank - “When we believe, we can”, Sky Yogurt - “Park” and Nestle Drumstick - “Summer Rituals”.

Awards: Cannes Lions, CLIO Awards, D&AD Awards.

23. SEB EDWARDS

Seb Edwards is one of the world’s leading commercial directors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSXzslHsNtQ

Highlights: Emirates - “Hello Tomorrow” and Nike - “Greatness Everywhere”.

Awards: First Cannes Shot Young Directors Award, Gold Cannes Lions.

24. MARTIN WERNER

He is the founder of Bacon Productions in Copenhagen and one of the most awarded and loved directors in Scandinavia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIXHzKpgBFo

Highlights: Jack&Jones - “Made from Cool” and Magnum - “Be True To Your Pleasure”.

Awards: Grand Prix Award, Eurobest and Epica Awards.

25. IVAN ZACHARIAS

He is characterised for his human, cinematic styled storytelling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au17YpGAa-s

Highlights: Honda - “Impossible Dream”, Stella Artois - “Pilot” and Nike - “Pretty”.

Awards: Golden Drum Award, British Arrows Awards and over 100 other awards.

26. ANDY MCLEOD

Before joining Rattling Stick, he was the founding partner of Fallon – one of London’s most respected advertising agencies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrbpRMD2HbU

Highlights: Kronenbourg - “Baggy Trousers” and Virgin Money - “Pigeon”.

Awards: D&AD Black Pencil, British Arrows Awards, Cannes Lions.

27. FREDRIK BOND

The industry magazine Campaign has ranked Fredrik Bond among its top five commercial directors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Pc-Yp4cr0k

Highlights: Heineken - “Voyage”, Milk - “The Straw” and Levi's - “First Time”.

Awards: CLIO Awards, Cannes Lions, D&AD Awards.

28. SAM BROWN

He is known for commercials with a music-video-style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYSmij0407A

Highlights: Mars - “Sea of Support” and Costa Coffe - “I was made for loving you”

Awards: British Arrows Awards, Cannes Lions, D&AD Pencil for best direction.

29. ADAM BERG

His films cover all styles and genres.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ3D4CqHbJM

Highlights: Philips - “Carousel”, Nike - “Nike+ #GAMEONWORLD” and Dulux - “Walls”.

Awards: Grand Prix Award, Cannes Lions, CLIO Awards.

30. PETER THWAITES

Peter Thwaites is the co-founder of the production company The Corner Shop.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLG5kJa1lpM

Highlights: Honda - “ Museum”, AT&T - “Entertainment” and Audi - “DNA”.

Awards: D&AD Awards, DGA Awards.

31. DANTE ARIOLA

He gives every commercial and feature film its own rich, cinematic look and distinctive style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb48Z2NHHzY

Highlights: Coca Cola - “First Taste” and Johnnie Walker - “Human”.

Awards: DGA Awards, CLIO Awards, Emmy, Cannes Gold Lions.

32. MICHAEL GEOGHEGAN

Michael’s adaptive style and strong ethics have long been established, and still carry through to each film he takes on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaZxGqmMjzQ

Highlights: Honda - “Off the Grid” and AXE - “Speed”.

Awards: British Arrows Awards, Grammy, Cannes Lions.

33. JOHN DOLAN

He is well known for his commercials with emotional component.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cibPBAJIih4

Highlights: Peugeot - “Hands” and Corona - “Dear Summer”.

Awards: Cannes Lions, D&AD Pencils.

34. GRADY HALL

He is a producer and director, known for award-winning commercials.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hinDFlOy5nk

Highlights: Lexus - “Christmas Train” and Microsoft - “Hololens”.

Awards: Grammy, CLIO Awards, AICP, D&AD Awards.

35. JOACHIM BACK

Joachim Back is known for his unique sense of humour and visual style in his spots.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnD8Z1zSHwk

Highlights: Landrover - “7thWheel” and Stella Artois - “The Rivals”.

Awards: Andy Awards, CLIO Awards, Cannes Lions.

36. SPIKE JONZE

He created a number of memorable television commercials for companies like Nike, Nissan and Coca-Cola.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g4zZ2IoEd8

Highlights: Levi's - “Crazy Legs``, Adidas - ``Hello Tomorrow`` and Ikea - ``Lamp``.

Awards: Grand Prix Awards, Academy Awards.

37. CHARLEY STADLER

Charley Stadler directed more than 200 commercials for some of the biggest brands all over the world.

Highlights: Porsche Design - “Global the Battle”, Cadbury - “Wispa” and Woodstock - “BBQ”.

Awards: London Intl Awards, Cannes Lions, numerous international gold medal.

38. LAUREN GREENFIELD

She was the first female director with a nomination for best commercial director by DGA.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

Highlights: Always - “Like a Girl” and Toyota - “To Be A Dad”.

Awards: Emmy, Cannes Lions, CLIO Awards, D&AD Pencils.

39. MARTIN STIRLING

He is known for his extreme attention to detail and crafting unique ways of telling stories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhbliUq0_r4

Highlights: Greenpeace - “LEGO: Everything is NOT Awesome” and Save The Children - “Most Shocking Second a Day Video”.

Awards: Gold Lions, one of the internet’s most viewed director by Director's Notes.

40. DANIEL KLEINMAN

Kleinman has a knack for making people laugh. He is well known for his provocative and comic commercials.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMbi1qDCKAA

Highlights: John West - “Bear”, XBOX - “Champagne” and Smirnoff - “Sea”.

Awards: Cannes Lions, D&AD Awards, British Arrows Awards.

41. TONY SCOTT

Sadly, Scott died in 2012, aged 68. He committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_39b8e5PXWw

Highlights: Malboro - “One Man, One Land” and Barclays - “Big”.

Awards: Cannes Lions, BAFTA Award.

42. MATTHIAS HOENE

He won several awards for his very first commercial “Club 18-30”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmyHpra-_cY

Highlights: Club 18-30 - “Doggy Style” and Giff Gaff - “Undead”.

Awards: Cannes Gold Lions.

43. TOM NOAKES

Tom Noakes is known as a weird comedy director.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugo7Y2lRsxc

Highlights: Doritos - “Finger Cleaner”, Hotels.com - “Beach” and Hornbach - “You’re Alive”.

Awards: Gold Ciclope Award for Best Direction, CLIO Awards.

44. MICHEL GONDRY

He is known for his extraordinary ideas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URiFTm-EGQs

Highlights: Levi's - “Drugstore”, Smirnoff - “Smarienberg” and Gap - “Holiday Campaign”.

Awards: Academy Awards, Cannes Lions.

45. DAVID SHANE

Shane is recognized for his black humour and awkward performances.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJJL5dxgVaM

Highlights: Bud Light - “Swear Jar”, Curry's - “Laptop” and HBO GO - “What's he in”.

Awards: Emmy, Cannes Lions.

46. BRYAN BUCKLEY

He was named the “King of Super Bowl” by the New York Times. He directed more than 50 commercials for the game since 2000.

Highlights: Beats by Dre - “Christmas Miracle”, Honda - “New Truck to Love” and American Express - “What's your 20”.

Awards: Webby Awards, AICP Awards, D&AD Pencil.

47. MICHAEL MANN

He is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu3fzu17YBc

Highlights: Nike - “Leave Nothing” and Mercedes - “Lucky Star”.

Awards: Emmy, Cannes Lions, Academy Awards.

48. FREDRIK CALLINGGARD

Callinggard is well known for commercials with a lot of emotions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgxmZrPIfe4

Highlights: IKEA - “Dream Kitchens” and T-Mobile - “Hugging”.

Awards: Cannes Lions, D&AD Award, CLIO Award.

49. FRANK BUDGEN

He died in 2015 at the age of 61 after producing many successful commercials.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVnOdls2OOk

Highlights: Guinness - “Bet on Black”, Nike - “Tag” and Sony PlayStation - “Mountain”.

Awards: Grand Prix Awards, Cannes Lions.

50. RIDLEY SCOTT

Scott is known for his groundbreaking achievements in visual effects.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zfqw8nhUwA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zfqw8nhUwA

Highlights: Apple Macintosh - “1984”.

Awards: Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, Cannes Lions.

This list is not a judgement. We’ve merely compiled a collection of the best directors, based on extensive research. Perhaps you noticed that we at Filestage just ranked one women. Unfortunately, this business is still dominated by men. But perhaps the day will come, when more women are recognized for their achievements in the industry. Watch this space.

Director Quote

“I would love to see more women directors because they represent half of the population – and gave birth to the whole world. Without them writing and being directors, the rest of us are not going to know the whole story.” –  Jane Campion

Do you agree with our ranking? Or do you think we left someone out? Just comment and let us know what you think.

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