The Top Creative Minds in Digital

Digital's standout stars in today's cluttered multimedia space

Unleashed into the digital wilds, creatives have responded with innovative, far-reaching ideas that leverage interactive’s unique attributes. We look at some of the people best utilizing the new technologies to create work that stands out amidst today’s multimedia clutter.

Andy Hood, executive creative development director, AKQA, London, Nick Bailey, executive creative director, AKQA, Amsterdam 

AKQA’s talent pool runs deep—and wide. Collaborations include the Star Player for Heineken, a dual-screen mobile and social soccer game created by Hood (in London) and Bailey (in Amsterdam). Designed to raise the profile of Heineken’s UEFA sponsorship, it lets users “participate” in a soccer match by predicting—via their smartphones, tablets, or computers—upcoming plays. It’s hardly the only work to garner buzz: Since 2008, the agency, across all offices, has earned more than 300 awards.

Koichiro Tanaka, creative director, Projector Inc., Tokyo

Months before Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s Timeline, Tanaka—who established Projector, a creative collective, in 2004—built Intel’s The Museum of Me, which pulls content from viewers’ Facebook pages and displays it in a personalized, virtual “exhibition.” Tanaka hit a narcissistic nerve, as the museum has racked up more than 800,000 “Likes” since its June launch. Tanaka first made an international name for himself with his intricate work for Uniqlo, which included a YouTube campaign starring robot-like dancers.

Neil Heymann, creative director, Droga5, New York

The award-winning, Australian-born Heymann was at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, among other agencies, before joining Droga5. He worked with quintessential New Yorker Jay-Z to market both the launch of the entrepreneur’s biography, Decoded, and Microsoft’s Bing. The agency created an interactive treasure hunt, putting clues online that led viewers, using Bing’s map function, to book pages hidden in real locations. Fans who reassembled the book received the chance for a lifetime pass to Jay-Z concerts.

Stephen Goldblatt, executive creative director, partner, Evolution Bureau, San Francisco

In the last year alone (give or take a month), Goldblatt has led campaigns for clients including Lady Gaga and Juicy Fruit. This past May, the former Goodby, Silverstein & Partners creative worked on a promo for Gagaville, an interactive project between Zynga and the pop star that promoted Born This Way. And in summer 2010, he helped create Juicy Fruit’s Sweet Talk app, programmed with videos of lips offering fawning compliments. It turned millions of iPhones into mouthpieces for flattery, as users covered their yaps with their devices and let Juicy Fruit rattle off sweet nothings on their behalf.

Aaron Koblin, creative director, Google Creative Lab, San Francisco, Chris Milk, director, @radical.media, Los Angeles

Specializing in the geeky field of data visualization, Koblin, who is also an artist, uses real-world and community-generated data to create work for brands. His award-winning collaborations with Milk have resulted in, among other things, ingenious, Google-branded music videos to promote the Chrome browser. They paired the technology with A-list artists such as Arcade Fire. The band’s interactive video, “The Wilderness Downtown,” invites users to launch Chrome and enter their addresses, enabling the browser to pull photos from Google Maps and combine them in real-time with 3-D models for personalized journeys through neighborhoods.

Malcolm Poynton, chief creative officer, SapientNitro, London

Joining SapientNitro immediately after it was created by the merger of Nitro Group and Sapient Interactive gave Poynton the chance to work across brands and disciplines. (When he started in 2010, he reportedly called the shop “the first truly ambidextrous agency in town.”) Poynton’s work has lived up to expectations, such as the Foot Locker SneakerPedia website, a crowd-sourced repository of shoe porn where sneaker fanatics can share their photos and stories with like-minded souls.