To help you put faces and names to the ideas changing the brand-marketing world and to uncover the talent who have been flying below your radar, we once again bring you our annual list of creatives to know.
There's much to learn from the folks featured here, whether it's the Pinterest logo designer who's now making creative waves at his new agency home or the women behind last year's most enviable and inspiring innovation. For extended profiles and to see their work, check into creativity-online.com/creativeprofiles.
Nico Pimentel, innovation director/founder at +Castro, Buenos Aires
When Nico Pimentel leads clients step-by -step down what he calls the innovation path, they're never sure exactly where they'll end up because it probably hasn't been invented yet.
If you're Nike Argentina, the journey's end is seeing your Air Max shoe float and fly in a Nike Air Show. For PepsiCo, it's a unique vending machine that appears to manufacture Lay's potato chips after a real potato is dropped in the coin slot.
The former BBDO Argentina director of integrated communications started +Castro two years ago as an "innovation house" to focus on creating and implementing big ideas. That often involves inventing the technology behind the ideas, too.
Mr. Pimentel also has a gift for establishing trust and rapport with major marketers at a senior level.
"Nico has a unique blend that makes him a partner you want to have working on an innovation incubator," said Maria Mujica, Latin America marketing director-gum and candy at Kraft. "He combines a strategic mind with very creative and fresh thinking, and a lot of streetwise resourcefulness."
The +Castro office, housed in former stables, is an environment for inspiration, from electric sockets that hang from the ceiling so desks and tables, on wheels, can be moved around, to the Vending Gallery, a small rotating art exhibit curated by a staffer and displayed in a vending machine. The current "show" is Mr. Pimentel's collection of 1980s Transformer toys. --Laurel Wentz
Doug Fallon & Steve Fogel, creative directors at Grey , New York
There aren't many campaigns we'd like to see run for a very long time. But one we would love to stick around for a while is Grey New York's series for DirecTV, featuring a variety of characters whose lives unravel to desperate scenarios in which they're selling their own hair, waking up in a roadside ditch, or reenacting scenes from "Platoon" with Charlie Sheen -- all because they have cable.
The brains behind this comedic feast are creative directors Doug Fallon and Steven Fogel. Mr. Fallon is a longtime staffer at the agency, while Mr. Fogel recently served at DeVito/Verdi and DDB. When they finally came together on a Dairy Queen campaign two years ago, "it was a pretty instant love connection," said Mr. Fogel.
They attribute the success of their most recent endeavor to a magical concoction of their own sense of story, client input and MJZ director Tom Kuntz -- known for his comedic prowess on award-winning campaigns for Old Spice and Skittles, among others. "It was just a thought we had, a structure, taking a small issue and making it the root of all sorts of horribleness, with a voice-over walking you through it as if this chain of events was inevitable," said Mr. Fogel. "The brief originally was focused on how DirecTV has a way-better guide than cable, and we worked it around with the client's help to be more of an overarching anti-cable message." Even Mr. Sheen did his part. "We were basically saying that if you have cable, Charlie Sheen might befriend you in a bathhouse, take you back to this hotel to relive his glory days and then shoot you in the face with an arrow, and he was cool with that ," Mr. Fallon said, laughing. --Ann-Christine Diaz
Graham Douglas, copywriter at Droga5
Droga5 copywriter Graham Douglas is responsible for one of the year's game-changing ideas, "Help, I Want to Save a Life." The latest addition to pharma company Help Remedies' design-minded product line marries two things that should have met a long time ago—a package of bandages and a bone-marrow donor kit. The pairing effectively turns the everyday nick into an opportunity to save a life: you've already cut yourself, so why don't you put your lost AB- to good use?
Mr. Douglas' twin brother's plight to find a donor inspired his yearslong search for a solution, which he eventually landed on with the help of a class he taught at Miami Ad School -- all on his free time.
Mr. Douglas' efforts on the clock are no less moving. He was one of the team behind the agency's foray into insurance, for Prudential, including the moving "Day One" campaign that follows retirees on their first day off work, and the gorgeous "Sunrise" launch spot, which tracks a single sunrise from multiple locations across the U.S. The idea was inspired by a stunt Mr. Douglas' fighter-pilot grandfather used to pull with his buddies. "He said that sometimes they'd take off just before daybreak and try to "freeze the sunrise.' They'd dial in the speed of their aircraft to exactly the same speed as the Earth's rotation. And they'd just stay like that , for hundreds of miles, just sitting at Mach 1, taking in this beautiful, perpetual sunrise." —Ann-Christine Diaz
Jesse Juriga, creative director at BBH, New York
Then Mr. Juriga showed his masochistic colors. "It was my birthday, and I worked all day, until 2 a.m. They hired me a month later."
Mr. Juriga went on to work on much of the agency's memorable work for Puma, including the celebrated "After Hours" spot. Last year, he joined BBH, where he's helped to make Google one of the brand world's best storytellers with the waterworks-inducing campaign "The Web is What You Make of It," featuring spots such as "Dear Sophie," based on a real Google employee's personal project for his daughter, and the uplifting "It Gets Better," showcasing journalist Dan Savage's eponymous project to send messages of hope to LGBT teens. As for which is his favorite, "I have a soft spot for "Sophie,' but I still claim somebody is chopping onions behind me every time I watch "It Gets Better,' " he said. --Ann-Christine Diaz
Tomohiko Hayashi & Kensuke Sembo, founders of Nuuo, Tokyo/Fukuoka
This two-man team is on a mission to enrich daily life and relationships through technology. Nuuo was formed last year, and one of its first projects was the "Tiny Riot" app that allows users to make a heavy-metal soundtrack by shaking their smartphones. The creators had a deeper purpose for the app: to give socially constrained Japanese an outlet to vent their distress following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated their country. More recently, Nuuo created "Nubot" -- a robot dressed in a polka-dot hoodie whose "face" is an iPhone running Skype. The phone's user can participate virtually in meetings, meals and other social functions, moving Nubot by pushing buttons on the Skype dialpad.
Mr. Hayashi previously worked as an interactive planner at Hakuhodo, where he began collaborating with Mr. Sembo, a media artist whose work he admired. The two worked together on campaigns for Japanese telecom operator KDDI, such as 2010's "Twitter parade," which showed a person's Twitter profile picture leading a dancing crowd made up of their followers' profile photos. The game was played nearly 15 million times.
"They are free from stereotypical views," said Momoko Yoshimura, a marketing executive at KDDI. "Nuuo's proposal is always based on their unique viewpoint. They are free. They work with pleasure."
Mr. Sembo also created "Big Shadow" in 2006 for Microsoft Xbox 360's Blue Dragon game. With computers, a fan's shadow was projected onto the side of a large building in Tokyo, where it battled the shadow of a giant dragon.
The duo's most recent project is opening a center in Fukuoka where creative folks can come together to work and trade ideas. They aim to open more centers in places such as New York, London and South Africa, linking them to create a worldwide idea exchange. --Anita Chang Beattie
Youna Chung, creative director/art director; Youbin Bang, art director; Yeonjoo Lee, art director; Misu Yi, copywriter at Cheil, Seoul
Youna Chung, Youbin Bang, Yeonjoo Lee and Misu Yi are why so many more Koreans are missing their trains these days. They're the team behind the Homeplus Subway Virtual Store, the 2011 idea that had even the most acclaimed creatives saying "I wish I'd done that " and that earned Korea its first ever Cannes Grand Prix. The campaign was an evolution of a 2008 effort in which Cheil plastered a subway station with images to make it resemble a store.
"That itself was an outstanding idea, but a piece was missing," said Ms. Bang. "I thought it would be better if it can actually lead to purchase for busy commuters while waiting for the subway. At that time, smartphone sales soared, and Tesco Homeplus already had the online purchase-delivery service in place. So the idea could be executed if we developed an application and delivery system. Thankfully, the client bought it."
That the team comprises women played a significant role in the idea's genesis. "Outside of myself, all the other team members were married women who understand weekend grocery shopping is such a tough task," said Ms. Bang. "So we wanted to let the store come to people."
The four make up what they call a "freestyle task force."
"We occasionally get together whenever there's an interesting project or a good idea," said Ms. Bang. "Cheil is also fully supportive, because this kind of team is more flexible when it comes to developing new ideas and good creative." Since Homeplus, their collective output has included other fanciful ideas, including a Facebook theme park for Samsung and an "Angry Birds"-inspired campaign for Cass beer. --Ann-Christine Diaz
Mark Lewis and Matt Fitch, creatives at BBH London
U.K. newspaper the Guardian has positioned itself at the forefront of new-era journalism with moves such as putting its daily news list online and creating a Twitter-bot to answer news-related questions. But Editor Alan Rusbridger's "open journalism" philosophy really crystallized in the eyes of the public with the launch of the fantastic "Three Little Pigs" spot, out of BBH London, which added a controversial dimension to the classic children's tale. The idea was conceived by young creative team Matt Fitch and Mark Lewis. "We decided the simplest way to show every aspect of how this brand works was to literally show it in action," said Mr. Lewis. "What if the Guardian reported on the story of the Three Little Pigs, and through open journalism we discover there was more to the story than we thought?"
The two have been friends since high school and have been "up to no good ever since," Mr. Fitch said. Their previous exploits include playing in a band and working at the "same boring job in the same government office," he said. Eventually, they both found their way to advertising, with stints at VCCP and BMB before joining BBH two years ago. Since then, the duo has been on a winning streak, literally. Outside of the Guardian spot, a clear contender for this year's Cannes Film Grand Prix, they were behind last year's multi-awarded campaign for Google U.K., which used phonetics to depict various Google Voice commands. --Ann-Christine Diaz
Juan Carlos Pagan, designer at DDB, New York
Self-professed typeface geek Juan Carlos Pagan had made a name for himself long before he joined DDB as a designer six months ago. The Parsons grad was busy indulging his love for typography at the inaugural Type@Cooper postgrad class at Cooper Union when his friend and fellow designer Mike Deal called him to collaborate on a project. Little did they know that they were working on what would become arguably the creative industry's logo du jour, for Pinterest.
The biggest challenge? "We had this ongoing joke of getting the right degree of "P-ness,'" said Mr. Pagan, bringing out the 12-year-old boy in all of us. Initially the pair thought having the P mimic a pin would be a "little too obvious," he said. But they later decided to give it a go, seeking just the right level of the suggestion of a pin."We didn't want to make it too sharp because that 's evil. And we didn't want to make it too soft because then it would be a nub."
At DDB, Mr. Pagan has applied his smart design sense to the agency's work for the Art Directors Club, the New York Lottery and Hertz, including a standout poster campaign with a fun, retro vibe, featuring a variety of slightly tweaked typefaces. Outside the agency, Mr. Pagan has created another outlet for his letter-driven obsessions, font foundry Pagan & Sharp, with fellow designer Lucas Sharp. --Ann-Christine Diaz