Adland often bemoans that the glamorous Mad Men of old are being replaced with “Maths Men,” now that more focus is being placed on data and programmatic advertising.
But creativity still reigns when it comes to grabbing consumer’s attention and actually making them feel something or perform an action after seeing an ad.
Here are the 30 most creative people in the advertising business.
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 stand-out creative work that’s garnered attention outside of the advertising world.
Cattano helped open the doors of the world's first dedicated studio for virtual reality back in April last year.
Since then Framestore has worked on a number of VR firsts -- the hugely successful 'Ascend the Wall' activation for HBO's Game of Thrones at SXSWi, and a dozen projects for brands including Marriott Hotels and Volvo across Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR.
One of Cattano's recent projects was for Merrell's 'Trailscape,' which acted as the first ever commercial walk-around use of virtual reality. It debuted at this year's Sundance Film Festival and invited people to explore the Dolomite Mountains, all while generating buzz for Merrell's new Capra boot.
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At the 2015 Sundance Festival, MKG helped create a first of its kind, in-motion virtual reality experience. Using Oculus Rift, Trailscape invited people to explore the natural wonder of the Dolomite Mountains to generate buzz around Merrell's new Capra boot.
The Capra boot was inspired by a trip to the rocky Dolomites so our Trailscape experience transported people there and took them on a mountain hike. Like the Capra mountain goat, guests needed all their balance to brave treacherous rock ledges and swinging suspension bridges. Working closely with Oscar-winning effects house, Framestore, we also built in 4D elements such as rumbling floors during a rock slide and gusts of wind at the peak, to help immerse you in the experience.
PR Credit: Hill Holiday
Musante was the driving force behind the Cannes Lions Innovation Lion-winning work for Liberty Mutual's partnership with the Chicago Marathon. It was the first award of such kind for the agency and the brand.
The 'Moving Words' campaign saw Liberty fitting runners' race bibs with RFID tags, which tracked their location, speed, and target pace. The data was instantly transmitted to Facebook posts so their friends and family could see how they were getting along and send words of encouragement. The messages of support were then displayed on screens along the marathon route, triggered by the RFID tag as the runners approached.
Musante leads the New York creative department at Havas Worldwide.
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Jacobs has recently worked on memorable campaigns including the 'Longest Lasting Tournament' event for Duracell, helping launch the Dick's Sporting Goods business, and creating the ESPN 'Hell Week' documentary.
Before launching his advertising career, Jacobs was a screenwriter and has worked on everything from Comedy Central to Maxim Magazine.
Jacobs' 'Teddy Bear' ad for Duracell was inspired by the true story of a deployed dad and his young daughters.
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Ramos came back from Cannes this year with 13 awards for Burger King's 'Proud Whopper' campaign.
Other memorable work from Ramos this year includes Heinz's funny new 'Ketchup's Got A New Mustard' campaign, and Coke's interactive Mothers' Day campaign 'Inseparable,' where the viewer could switch perspective between the mother and the daughter in the ad.
To date, Anselmo's work has won over 100 Cannes Lions, both at DAVID and while he was CCO at Ogilvy Brazil, where he was the creative behind Dove's 'Real Beauty Sketches,' among many others.
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Five of YouTube's most watched ads in May were for Supercell, one of Graf's clients.
Graf also spearheaded the 'Angry Neeson' Supercell Super Bowl 2015 ad, which the agency claims was the most-watched ad online of the Super Bowl.
In 2014, Barton was named mid-sized agency of the year by the 4A's and the 5th most innovative advertising agency by Fast Company magazine. Gerry is also a member of the Facebook Creative Council.
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D'Arcy is responsible for Facebook's team of more than 100 creative strategists who work with brands and their agencies like an agency itself, advising on how to create stand-out campaigns for the social network.
Under D'Arcy's leadership, Facebook has launched the Facebook Awards, which celebrate the best ads on the platform, and are now in their fourth year. D'Arcy also formed the first Facebook Creative Council, providing Facebook with feedback from leading members of the global creative community.
Facebook Creative shop helped Lego create a four-week video campaign that asked children around the world to create an imaginary character called a 'kronkiwongi.'
Previously CCO for Isobar Brazil, Saldanha was promoted to CCO for the Americas in May this year.
Saldanha has picked up more than 30 Cannes Lions in his career, as well as a string of other awards.
Recent campaigns included installing free WiFi in Fiat taxis that only worked if passengers fastened their seatbelt, and a 'safe key' that Fiat drivers could blow into to determine whether they were sober enough to drive.
Saldanha is also the co-founder of a startup that is developing a fashion app.
Duval Guillaume has long been heralded for its creativity, and Sels joined in January this year to make sure the Belgium-based agency keeps hold of its reputation.
Sels has won more than 80 international awards, making her one of the most recognised creatives worldwide. She was recently creative director on a campaign for the Belgian Financial Sector Federation which asked kids whether they wanted to be a banker when they grew up.
Aside from advertising, she has published three novels and is working on her fourth.
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Chu only joined Possible in July this year but already made an immediate impact with a video ad produced in 10 days for Microsoft. The campaign also included a video ad, social strategy, and new website.
Prior to Possible, Chu was at Deutsch LA. As executive vice president and executive creative director, he worked on accounts including Taco Bell, Volkswagen, Sprint, Snapple, and Target, and he led the agency's experiential department. In 2014, as a result of Chu's work, Deutsch LA won the highest honour in the experiential category: a Grand Ex Award.
His list of awards includes Cannes Lions, and his work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
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Dollar Shave Club's creative team is headed by Michael Dubin, alongside creative director Alec Brownstein.
In Fall 2014, Dollar Shave Club debuted its first made-for-TV ad campaign. 'The Drugstore Experience' consisted for four 30-second parody ads, highlighting the inconvenience and high cost of buying razors in-store. The company says the campaign resulted in a 25% increase in brand awareness, and website traffic doubled.
You might remember Dubin as the star (and creator) of Dollar Shave Club's now-famous 2012 video 'Our Blades Are F***ing Great.'
These TV ads aimed to warn consumers about the 'less-than-awesome' incentives when buying razors in-store.
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Inamoto was promoted to chief creative officer worldwide at AKQA in November last year.
He's been called 'the Yoda of advertising,' mostly thanks to his wisdom-filled and often-cryptic tweets. Inamoto is also a frequent speaker at conferences, and writes for publications such as Fast Company and Contagious Magazine on creativity.
AKQA says Inamoto's presence at the agency in 2005 has been 'instrumental' in bringing it huge recognitions such as being named 'agency of the year' five times by Creative Review and Campaign, being recognised by Fast Company as one of the 50 most innovative companies, and by AdAge as one of the top 10 agencies of the decade. The agency won four gold lions at Cannes this year.
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Bambach is the former president of the arts and educational charity D&AD, was awarded an honorary doctorate from Norwich University of Arts last year for her services to graphic design, and was named one of Britain's 500 most influential people by Debrett's.
Her work is as ambitious as it is creative: Last year a campaign for Bacardi saw the agency motion-track 100,000 bats to bring the brand's logo to life, plus the creation of a musical track called Bat Beats, and creating a musical event on an island in the Bermuda Triangle, which showcased a film that saw a professional dancer break into more than 50 musical festivals around the world.
Another fun campaign was f0r Greenpeace with 'Cats Save Tigers,' which teamed up the biggest cats on the internet to save real big cats..
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Gill served as co-creative director on Axe's January ad that showed two men kissing -- 'even better, they don't make a big deal of it,' said Adweek's Tim Nudd. BBH and Axe didn't mention the kiss in the press release. The brand received a flurry of praise for the ad.
Other ads from Gill and his team this year included a spot for British juice brand Robinsons, which saw a child 'grow up fast' from a little baby to a grown man in the course of the ad, a campaign for Barclays bank to celebrate the return of the English Premier League,
This year Gill also managed to persuade some of the creatives behind Dove's famous 'Real Beauty Sketches' campaign to London to join BBH.
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McIlrath has picked up more than 180 major industry awards over the past 15 years -- from Cannes Lions, to D&AD Pencils, to Campaign Poster Awards.
He is responsible for Iris' 400-people global creative team, with a focus on the UK where he runs one of the biggest creative teams in London.
Recent stand-out work includes the Integrated Cyber Cannes Lions winner #ThereWillBeHaters campaign for Adidas, starring football stars Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, and Karim Benzema.
The #ThereWillBeHaters campaign drove 230,000 social media shares, more than 20 million YouTube views, and a 100% increase in traffic to the product website.
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Monteiro was promoted to the position of chief creative officer in July, having previously been executive creative director.
Last year she was named in AdAge's 'Creativity 50' and was also an honoree in AdAge's 'Women to Watch Brazil.'
Recent examples of her creative prowess include the creation of a doll for Nivea to teach kids about sun protection, and a campaign for CNA Language School that asked people in the US calling to order food from Hello Pizza to spend a few minutes speaking to Brazilian students in English in exchange for a discount.
The 'Hello Pizza' campaign saw students in São Paulo taking the pizza orders of customers in California.
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Both Binch and Favat were promoted to oversee creative and digital across the entire Deutsch North America network earlier this year.
Recent blockbusters include the 'Breakfast Defectors' campaign for Taco Bell that aimed ot reject the 'circle-sandwich status quo,' Mophie's 'All Powerless' Super Bowl campaign, and Pizza Hut's huge re-brand.
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Rather than paying for lots of expensive celebrity brand advocates, Beats has relied on authentic relationships with athletes and owner Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine's extensive Rolodex of entertainment stars to endorse the brand because they actually love it.
It's that kind of relationship that saw Beats create an ad referencing Miley Cyrus' famous twerk way before the dance took place, running it the next ad break after the singer grinded up against Robin Thicke. And Beats headphones are often the pre-game ritual of the world's biggest athletes.
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Stanners sits on Saatchi's UK board, she is a member of WACL and the RSA, and she also sits on the IPA Council.
Recent credits include Pampers 'pooface' ad showing babies' faces in slow motion as they filled their diapers, a touching spot for HomeAway which saw a girl and her dog reunited, and ongoing work for longstanding client UK mobile carrier EE, starring actor Kevin Bacon.
Rick Brim and Ben Tollett lead Adam&EveDDB's creative output.
The agency is most famed for its John Lewis campaigns, where Tollett has effectively established the UK department store's tone of voice and set expectations each Christmas.
Brim, who was also the creative behind last Christmas' 'Monty the Penguin' campaign (John Lewis' most effective ever) has also been securing new business wins including Virgin Atlantic and Waitrose.
And the two have both been busy working on the Harvey Nichols account. Most recently they worked on the 'Shoplifters' real CCTV footage campaign.
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Mildenhall left Coca-Cola in June last year to become Airbnb's CMO.
He says on his LinkedIn page that Airbnb founder and CEO Brian Chesky 'will not settle until we are recognised as one of the most creative organisations on the planet.'
Mildenhall set to work straight away. First came the rollout of its new logo and brand positioning. The logo caused a stir on social media about how sexual it looked -- but Airbnb was prepared and launched a tool that allowed users to make their own versions.
Since then it has launched two big ad campaigns, one centering around the initial weirdness of staying in a stranger's house, and another honing in on 'the kindness of man.'
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John is not only Leo Burnett Canada's chief creative, but she also runs the business as the agency's CEO.
She was also the executive creative director on the incredible popular Always 'Like a Girl' global campaign. It won a Cannes Lions Grand Prix, the inaugural Glass Lion award, and media, PR, outdoor, glass, and creative effectiveness awards. Most recently, John was chief creative officer second iteration of the campaign, 'Unstoppable,' which has proved a huge viral hit with more than 36 million views on YouTube.
This year she has led Leo Burnett Canada to win agency of the year at the Webby Awards, and the same title at the Young Guns awards.
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Royer has led creative on a number of memorable campaigns over the past year including Under Armour's touching tribute to NBA star Stephen Curry (narrated by NBA legend Bill Russell,) Newcastle 'crashing' Doritos' popular 'Crash the Super Bowl' contest, an ad for Clearasil that reminded teens that acne doesn't last forever, and a fun ad for Motorola's Moto G phone that showcased its battery life.
At Cannes this year, Droga5 came away with the Cyber Grand Prix for Under Armour's 'I Will What I Want' campaign starring Gisele Bundchen. Across, his career, Royer has won almost 100 international awards beyond Cannes, including One Show pencils, Clios, and Andys.
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Credle left Leo Burnett to join FCB in June of this year.
While she's not yet on the credits for any FCB campaigns, stand-out creative from Credle this year includes McDonald's 'Signs' ad, Hallmark's Mother's Day film, and an ad from Esurance endorsing same-sex marriage.
Credle is a member of the Creative Review Board of the Ad Council and serves on the boards of The University of North Carolina's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the 4A's.
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5 & 4. Susan Hoffman and Colleen DeCourcy, global co-executive creative directors at Wieden + Kennedy
Hoffman and DeCourcy oversee all the creative work coming out of Wieden + Kennedy's eight global offices, and they're both members of the agency's global management team.
Both have been responsible for the roll-out of some huge, well-known global campaigns in the last year: Nike's 'Risk Everything' for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Honda's 'The Other Side' interactive film that users could control by pressing the 'R' key on their keyboards, 'Twitch' for Old Spice, and Squarespace's memorable Super Bowl spot starring Jeff Bridges.
The two oversaw Wieden + Kennedy New York's work for Nike's Jordan brand: 'Re2pect.' It won the Integrated Grand Prix at Cannes Lions this year.
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3 & 2. Chloe Gottlieb and Taras Wayner, co-executive creative director and SVP and executive creative director at R/GA New York
Gottlieb comes from a design background and Wayner has a copywriting background, which together helped them produce products and campaigns that helped contribute toward R/GA NY winning 'agency of the year' at Cannes.
Recent stand-out campaigns included creating the Gold award-winning Al.vio app that helps kids with asthma strengthen their lungs, and 'The Pursuit' by Equinox that turns spinning in the gym into an experiential game. They also produced 'Love Has No Labels' for the Ad Council, which was one of the most-viewed PSAs in history.
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Leonard was the chief creative officer on a string of Cannes Lions award-winning campaigns this year, including the Grand Prix winner: Volvo's LifePaint.
The other Cannes gongs Leonard worked on were: The Sunday Times Rich List 'Fat Cats' (Gold,) Lucozade 'Conditions Zone' (Silver,) Duracell 'Hello Kitty, Monkey, and Robot Skeletons (Bronze,) and The Uniquet Film Series for The Times (Bronze.)
In October last year, Leonard was promoted to the role of chairman, while still retaining his position as chief creative officer.
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