Production companies are the behind-the-scenes player in any great ad. Good ones know how to craft an emotional story, make us laugh or turn a seemingly impossible digital feat into reality. These 15-plus companies -- composing the Creativity Production Company A-List -- are the best in the business from 2012.
Here are five examples from A-List honorees of how a brand's investment in skilled creative talent can pay off in spades:
MJZ's focus on the work led to some of the year's most-talked-about campaigns for brands such as DirecTV and Old Spice. One of its directors, Tom Kuntz, is the mastermind behind one of the buzziest campaigns of the year, DirecTV's "Cable Effects," which former President Bill Clinton himself cited as a favorite. The impeccable execution of Grey, New York's excellent idea featured a treasure trove of detail and nuance and chronicled the absurd denouement that results from having cable. Another Kuntz spot promoting a DirecTV package starred actor John Cleese in 23 colorful, rapidly changing setups, every frame a comedic masterpiece unto itself.
RSA may be one of the oldest production companies in the business, but it's executing some of today's most innovative feats across channels. It went all out promoting founder Ridley Scott's blockbuster "Alien" prequel, "Prometheus," with a multiplatform campaign that included an eerie TED Talk from the future starring actor Guy Pearce and directed by Luke Scott. Gorgeous, retro-futuristic shorts directed by Johnny Hardstaff gave viewers insight to key characters like A.I. David, played by Michael Fassbender, and scientist Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace.
"Jam With Chrome"
Tool of North America has become one of the foremost players in digital production, evident in projects like the "Jam With Chrome" app, created with Google Creative Lab. The app uses HTML5, the Google Cloud Platform and Google's open-source programming language, Go, to allow users to play in a virtual band with their friends, performing on up to 19 different instruments all from their own keyboards.
Behind every great Olympian, there's a great mom. Anonymous Content director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu -- known for feature films "Babel" and "21 Grams" -- teamed with Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., on one of the games' more-moving spots, P&G's "Best Job." The award-winning commercial avoided cloying clich�s yet deftly moved viewers by highlighting mothers' sometimes-tedious rituals: rising early, waking the kids, making lunches, getting to practice -- all seemingly small contributions that culminate in their children's triumph on the world stage.
Radical Media is perhaps best-known for its transmedia and branded-content efforts, but it can do good old comedy, too. For Ragu's "Long Days of Childhood" campaign, agency Barton F. Graf 9000 and director Steve Miller uncovered the tragic moments of being a kid, from happening upon their parents' canoodling to getting their faces rinsed with Mom's spit.