Production Company Runners-up

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Hungry Man: First Runner-Up

It probably stacks against Hungry Man that its work is so consistently good; year after year, it becomes harder for the shop to impress us. Nevertheless,its overall body of work had a freshness factor considerably above the rest, thanks to its virtually leak-proof lineup of talents. Moreover, HM opened a full blown outpost in London this year, adding a promising European roster and funneling in a steady flow of inspired creative from overseas. "We had an exceptionally busy year," notes executive producer Steve Orent. "Billings-wise, it was our best ever." Notable moments include Bryan Buckley's sinfully sexy campaigns for Las Vegas and Archers and celebrity-driven work for Orange and Pepsi Twist. Jim Jenkins was in rare form for BBC, Amex and AirTran, as was Hank Perlman for Fox Sports and Toyota, and David Shane for ESPN SportsCenter and SPCA. John O'Hagan brought a telepathic twist to Sprint while Allen Coulter showed his skills for Visa and Egg. Not surprisingly the majority of the work garnered laughs, but the shop added dimension via Michael Cuesta's docu-spot for the BBC and Russ Lamoureux's festive sports work for Powerade.

Anonymous Content: Second Runner-Up

A few years ago, the buzz around town about Anonymous, with its big-name directors and huge overhead, was that it was going to follow in the ill-fated footsteps of Propaganda. But 2003 proved a shining period for the shop, which was home to some of this year's most creatively impactful spots. This was due in no small part to Malcolm Venville, who secured his A-List status with quiet stunners like Volkswagen's "Squares" and Honda's "Best Friends." Executive producer Dave Morrison notes, "The theme of this year has been hitting on all cylinders." That was evident, for example, in bold contributions from directors like David Fincher, who delivered a slew of deftly executed, if not groundbreaking, spots like Nike's "Gamebreakers" and Xelibri's bizarre trip into fashion's future. Andrew Douglas carpeted HP and FTD with fantastic florals, and the shop wisely welcomed Christian Loubek, who brought quirky elegance to Discover. Anonymous' hookup with London's Gorgeous also lent creative oomph, by way of Frank Budgen's "Streaker" for Nike, Peter Thwaites' Nascar work and Tom Carty for Kellogg's. Moreover, the year's efforts give credence to the shop's staying power. "We've been in the black," asserts Morrison. "Three or four years ago, we had ups and downs, but now the Anonymous/Gorgeous brand is firmly where it needs to be."

Smuggler: Breakout Bandit

We couldn't close this year without giving special recognition to Smuggler, which managed to become the hottest thing on the production radar in 2003, invigorating the ad scene fast and furiously with its posse of offbeat talents. Highlights include Happy's controversial Wrigley's "Dog Breath," James Brown's '60s spunk for Sheraton, Ivan Zacharias' Bollywood-inspired Absolut Mulit, David Frankham's filmic touches on Uncle Ben's and newcomer StyleWar's quirky Ikea artistry. In conjunction with London partner Stink, the shop also landed a major McCoup via McDonald's global branding effort. Director Brown led a crew of young guns on the multispot deal, which introduced an innovative production paradigm to the fold. Although that work ultimately didn't stand up to shop's best,no doubt Smuggler's feisty talents and fresh production strategies make it well-poised to become the David the Goliaths should keep their eyes on.

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