Frank Budgen, Acclaimed Commercials Director, Dies at 61

Work for Nike, Sony, Adidas and Guinness Created a 'New Visual Language'

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Frank Budgen
Frank Budgen Credit: Gorgeous

Frank Budgen, one of the commercial industry's most revered directors, passed away this week, aged 61. He suffered from cancer in recent years but the disease had been in remission.

Mr. Budgen's most famous work included "Tag" in 2001 for Nike and "Mountain" in 2003 for Sony PlayStation, both of which won Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

"Tag":

"Mountain":

Another PlayStation spot, "Double Life," had a huge impact thanks to its groundbreaking casting and character, while "Play Doh" for Sony Bravia featured giant rabbits of many colors; "Bet on Black" for Guinness focused on a snail race, and in Reebok's "Escape the Sofa," a piece of furniture relentlessly pursued a man around his own home.

"Double Life":

"Play Doh":

"Bet on Black":

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"Escape the Sofa":

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Last year's spot, "Welcome to Coffee" for Taylors of Harrogate, featured surreal, whirling, abstract images -- all filmed not with CGI, but in live action.

"Welcome to Coffee":

In other words, there was no one particular style associated with Mr. Budgen – his only hallmark was the quality of his work.

At D&AD's 50th anniversary celebration in 2012, Mr. Budgen was named Britain's most-awarded commercials director of all time (jointly with Tony Kaye). In a tribute at the event, Mr. Budgen's business partner, Paul Rothwell, said, "What makes Frank stand out is the humanity of his work and a realism that he brings to it… Frank brought in a new visual language and a new way of storytelling to commercials… … He just has this amazing ability to concentrate on what really matters."

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Mr. Budgen, who was featured on Creativity's first Creativity 50 list in 2006, studied art but started as a copywriter at BBDO in London. He also worked at Saatchi & Saatchi, and at BMP DDB Needham, where he began directing commercials in 1985. It wasn't until 1991 that he started directing full time.

In 1997, Mr. Budgen co-founded production company Gorgeous with fellow director Chris Palmer, and managing director Mr. Rothwell, who had worked with Budgen at DDB.

Trevor Beattie, who was creative director on the PlayStation spots at TBWA London and executive creative director on the Taylors of Harrogate spot through his own agency, BMB, quoted from "Double Life" in his Twitter tribute, "RIP Frank Budgen. You commanded armies. And conquered worlds."

Geoff Edwards, former ECD/partner at both T.A.G. and Fancy in San Francisco, and former creative director at McCann, paid tribute in a Facebook post, describing him as a "very private man" and one of the industry's "most profound storytellers."

Other commercials directed by Mr. Budgen included Levi's "Twist," Xbox's "Water Balloon" and "Jump Rope," Nike's "Shade Runner," and Adidas' "Slugs."

"Twist":

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"Water Balloon":

"Jump Rope":

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"Shade Runner":

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"Slugs":

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