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.

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1. TOM KUNTZ

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Heineken – “The Chase”, Supercell – “Clash of Clans” and Old Spice – “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: DGA Awards, Emmy, Cannes Lions and many more.”]

2. DOUGAL WILSON

He is well known for his iconic and recognizable commercials.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: John Lewis – “Always a Woman”, “Monty’s Christmas” and Lurpak – “Adventure Awaits”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: The Guardian – “Three Little Pigs”, AXE – “Susan Glenn” and Sainsbury – “Christmas 1914”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Southern Comfort – “Beach”, AXE – “Lifeguard” and Clash of Clans – “Lava Pup”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Harvey Nichols – “Sorry, I spent it on myself”, Marmite – “Neglect” and Sainsbury – “ Mog’s Christmas Calamity”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Skoda – “The Baking of..”, Heineken – “Nearly There”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Nike – “Bo Knows”, Budweiser – “Clydesdales” and John Hancock – “Insurance”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Carlton Draught – “Big Ad”, John West – “Into the Woods” and Reflex – “Print Guru”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Old Spice – “Rocket Car”, Nike – “Snow Day and Canal+ – “The Clowns”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: M6 Mobile – “Meeting”, Brother – “Next Time Label It” and Heineken – “Walk-In Fridge”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Cannes Lions, CLIO Awards, named one of the top 10 directors in the world by SHOTS Magazine. “]

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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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Microsoft – “Halo”, Got Milk? – “Birthday” and ADIDAS – “Carry”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Old Spice – “Momsong” and Carlton Draught – “Beer Chase”. “][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Honda – “The Cog” and Canal+ – “The Stone”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Nike – “Jogger”, Volkswagen – “The Force” and P&G – “Pick them Back Up”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Smirnoff – “The Double Site”, Lurpak – “Kitchen Odyssey” and Hornbach – “Festival”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Snickers – “Focus Group 10” and FedEx – “Exchange Student”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: D&AD Wood Pencil, CLIO Awards, DGA Awards. “]

17. HAROLD EINSTEIN

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Crest – “Bulldozer”, Kayak.com – “Bright Man” and FedEx – “Whee”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Pizza Hut – “Imposter” and Tena Men – “Control”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: British Arrows Awards, Cannes Lions, CLIO Award.”]

19. ANDREAS NILSSON

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Volvo – “The Epic Style” and Comcast – “Emily’s Oz”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Lupark – “Beirut” and Vodafone – “Whitakers”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Emmy, 3 BAFTA Awards. “]

21. ERIC LYNNE

He combines technical perfection with a personal visual style.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Citroën – “The Sleeping Supporter”, HSBC – “Hole in One” and Harvey Nichols – “Could I Be Any Clearer”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Commbank – “When we believe, we can”, Sky Yogurt – “Park” and Nestle Drumstick – “Summer Rituals”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Cannes Lions, CLIO Awards, D&AD Awards. “]

23. SEB EDWARDS

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Emirates – “Hello Tomorrow” and Nike – “Greatness Everywhere”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Jack&Jones – “Made from Cool” and Magnum – “Be True To Your Pleasure”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Grand Prix Award, Eurobest and Epica Awards.”]

25. IVAN ZACHARIAS

He is characterised for his human, cinematic styled storytelling.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Honda – “Impossible Dream”, Stella Artois – “Pilot” and Nike – “Pretty”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Kronenbourg – “Baggy Trousers” and Virgin Money – “Pigeon”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Heineken – “Voyage”, Milk – “The Straw” and Levi’s – “First Time”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: CLIO Awards, Cannes Lions, D&AD Awards.”]

28. SAM BROWN

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Mars – “Sea of Support” and Costa Coffe – “I was made for loving you””][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: British Arrows Awards, Cannes Lions, D&AD Pencil for best direction.”]

29. ADAM BERG

His films cover all styles and genres.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Philips – “Carousel”, Nike – “Nike+ #GAMEONWORLD” and Dulux – “Walls”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Grand Prix Award, Cannes Lions, CLIO Awards.”]

30. PETER THWAITES

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Honda – “ Museum”, AT&T – “Entertainment” and Audi – “DNA”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: D&AD Awards, DGA Awards. “]

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31. DANTE ARIOLA

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Coca Cola – “First Taste” and Johnnie Walker – “Human”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Honda – “Off the Grid” and AXE – “Speed”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: British Arrows Awards, Grammy, Cannes Lions.”]

33. JOHN DOLAN

He is well known for his commercials with emotional component.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Peugeot – “Hands” and Corona – “Dear Summer”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Cannes Lions, D&AD Pencils.”]

34. GRADY HALL

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Lexus – “Christmas Train” and Microsoft – “Hololens”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Landrover – “7thWheel” and Stella Artois – “The Rivals”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Levi’s – “Crazy Legs“, Adidas – “Hello Tomorrow“ and Ikea – “Lamp“.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Porsche Design – “Global the Battle”, Cadbury – “Wispa” and Woodstock – “BBQ”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Always – “Like a Girl” and Toyota – “To Be A Dad”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Greenpeace – “LEGO: Everything is NOT Awesome” and Save The Children – “Most Shocking Second a Day Video”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: John West – “Bear”, XBOX – “Champagne” and Smirnoff – “Sea”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Malboro – “One Man, One Land” and Barclays – “Big”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Cannes Lions, BAFTA Award.”]

42. MATTHIAS HOENE

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Club 18-30 – “Doggy Style” and Giff Gaff – “Undead”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Cannes Gold Lions. “]

43. TOM NOAKES

Tom Noakes is known as a weird comedy director.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Doritos – “Finger Cleaner”, Hotels.com – “Beach” and Hornbach – “You’re Alive”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Gold Ciclope Award for Best Direction, CLIO Awards.”]

44. MICHEL GONDRY

He is known for his extraordinary ideas.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Levi’s – “Drugstore”, Smirnoff – “Smarienberg” and Gap – “Holiday Campaign”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Academy Awards, Cannes Lions. “]

45. DAVID SHANE

Shane is recognized for his black humour and awkward performances.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Bud Light – “Swear Jar”, Curry’s – “Laptop” and HBO GO – “What’s he in”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Beats by Dre – “Christmas Miracle”, Honda – “New Truck to Love” and American Express – “What’s your 20”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Webby Awards, AICP Awards, D&AD Pencil.”]

47. MICHAEL MANN

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Nike – “Leave Nothing” and Mercedes – “Lucky Star”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Awards: Emmy, Cannes Lions, Academy Awards.”]

48. FREDRIK CALLINGGARD

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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: IKEA – “Dream Kitchens” and T-Mobile – “Hugging”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Guinness – “Bet on Black”, Nike – “Tag” and Sony PlayStation – “Mountain”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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

[icon_list_item icon=”fa-star” icon_type=”transparent” title=”Highlights: Apple Macintosh – “1984”.”][icon_list_item icon=”fa-trophy” icon_type=”transparent” title=”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.

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“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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