It’s hard to believe that Smuggler turns 20 this year—March 11, to be exact—but the company remains as inspiring as the ambitious renegade it was when founders Patrick Milling-Smith and Brian Carmody opened its doors in March 2002. The company ever since has consistently reaffirmed its reputation for expert storytelling, daring ideas and careful attention to nurturing talents both seasoned and new. Such was evident in 2021 with yet another reel packed to the brim with expert storytelling and craft, with home runs from across its entire bench.
Smuggler was nonstop with standout storytelling from talents seasoned and new
The accomplished Mark Molloy joined the rare list of directors to shoot a John Lewis holiday ad with Adam&Eve DDB. “Unexpected Guest” told the touching story of a curious alien trying to find her way on planet Earth, finding a bit of love along the way. Molloy also helmed Droga5’s life-affirming Super Bowl ad for Huggies. The first appearance for a diaper brand during the game featured babies born on that very day and promoted the brand’s “We Got You, Baby” platform.
Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow captured how iPhone users can create Tinseltown-level thrills on their devices with the kickoff film for Apple’s “Hollywood in Your Pocket” campaign.
Adam Berg showed his blockbuster chops as well, on DHL’s action-packed tie-in with the latest Bond film, “No Time to Die,” an ad about a courier who gets swept up in a high-speed chase across Shanghai.
Fenn O’Meally, who took the crown as last year’s “Director to Watch” at Ad Age’s Creativity Awards, got playful for WhatsApp’s “Just Send It” campaign promoting its view-once feature and delivered visual poetry in a short film exploring the evolution of the mind for Louis Vuitton’s 200th anniversary.
Directing duo Rubberband’s dreamy artistry graced the screen in films for Calvin Klein as well as Johannes Leonardo’s debut campaign for Instagram, “Yours to Make.”
Henry-Alex Rubin crafted yet another thought-provoking piece for his long-running collaboration with Sandy Hook Promise and BBDO New York, “Teenage Dream,” a music video-style film that brought a dark twist to Katy Perry’s pop hit of the same name.
Miles Jay brought his sensitive storytelling to P&G’s postponed Tokyo Olympics ad, “Lead With Love,” which showed young athletes rising to the occasion to become not just sports superstars but standup humans as well.
Guy Shelmerdine continued to shine as a comedy master on Uber Eats’ Super Bowl push resurrecting the “Saturday Night Live” classic skit “Wayne’s World,” reuniting Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in their iconic roles as Wayne and Garth.
Tom Speers delivered exquisitely subtle laughs for Oatly, in a campaign featuring kids griping about their dads’ dairy-drinking habits.
Smuggler welcomed new leadership into its ranks, with production vet Sue Yeon Ahn taking the post of U.S. managing director, Elizabeth Doonan signing on as executive producer for special projects and Tim Pastore taking the helm of the company’s nonfiction department.