Published 1st March 2024

Aardman announces new hires and promotions to its Executive Board

Aardman has today announced a series of new hires and promotions to its Executive Board.

Emma Hardie, who is currently Commercial Director, Global Entertainment for BBC Studios, will join Aardman in the newly created role of Executive Commercial and Brand Director. This role will see her lead the commercial exploitation and strategy for Aardman’s brand portfolio, overseeing the strategy for financing, distribution, licensing, marketing and long-term planning of the studio’s animated intellectual property.

Hardie’s career to date has seen her drive creative and commercial growth across TV, film and digital. She first joined the BBC in 2016 as a Brand Director for BBC Earth and Factual, rising to take responsibility for BBC Studios’ Global Entertainment strategy for unscripted and scripted worldwide. She has a track record of identifying and growing IP with international commercial potential, delivering significant new talent and content partnerships, and brand extensions on a global scale. These include BBC Studios’ investments in Mothership TV and Mettlemouse Entertainment, a co-development partnership with Japan’s Nippon TV, a hit app for Magnum Media’s format The 1% Club for ITV, and exec producing BBC Studios’ first Snapchat commission for Planet Earth II & the Blue Planet II mini-series. Prior to BBC Studios, Hardie worked at Deloitte as a strategy consultant, and in film production on titles including Working Title Films’ Anna Karenina and Heyday Films’ Paddington Bear.

Emma Hardie will take up the position of Executive Commercial and Brand Director at Aardman on 15th April 2024.

Meanwhile, existing Executive Board members Sarah Cox and Daniel Efergan have both received promotions, to Chief Creative Director and Executive Creative Director of Interactive & Innovation, respectively.

Cox, who is a BAFTA-nominated director, first joined Aardman as Executive Creative Director in 2017 to oversee the development of a new slate of IP aimed at kids and family audiences across all platforms. This has resulted in the hugely popular Morph spin-off for pre-schoolers, Very Small Creatures (Sky); Aardman’s first CG series made fully in-house, Lloyd of the Flies (CITV); and the studio’s first Netflix Original commission, Robin Robin, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2022. She also works as an Executive Producer on key Aardman IP, such as the Emmy-winning Shaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom. Prior to joining Aardman, Cox was co-owner of ArthurCox, an award-winning film and animation production company, which she launched in 2002 alongside Sally Arthur.

In her new role as Chief Creative Director, she will continue to provide visionary leadership for the creative direction of Aardman whilst also playing a pivotal role in broader studio strategic planning. She will oversee the development slate and the wider studio creative remit, continuing to nurture and develop a diverse portfolio of content that resonates with Aardman’s global audience through well-crafted, character driven, funny stories.

Efergan’s promotion to Executive Creative Director of Interactive & Innovation will see him take on responsibility for ensuring that Aardman continues to innovate both technology and processes to underpin its creative storytelling in new and immersive ways, whilst continuing to provide strategic direction and operational oversight of the studio’s gaming and interactive business.

Efergan was formerly Executive Creative Director of Interactive at Aardman and has been instrumental in the conception and delivery of BAFTA-winning interactive projects such as the Tate Movie Project and World of Invention, and led or supported on many others, including the (twice) BAFTA-nominated debut console game, 11-11 Memories Retold. Most recently he has been supporting Aardman’s first fully in-house developed and produced game for Netflix, Chicken Run: Eggstraction. He has been with the company for 17 years, having joined Aardman in 2007.

Completing the changes to the Executive Board, Joanna Cave has recently been promoted from Head of Finance to Finance Director. This follows Kerry Lock, the studio’s former Director of Finance & Operations, retiring from Aardman following 28 outstanding years of service with the business. Cave first joined Aardman as a Management Accountant in 2007 and has played a critical role in the finance team including on many of Aardman’s feature films. She joined the Executive Board as a director on 1st January and formally took on the title of Finance Director from 15th February.

Aardman co-founder Peter Lord will be stepping down from his place on the Executive Board, while retaining his role as a Creative Director of the company. Acting as Executive Producer, he will provide development expertise and creative oversight across a slate of individual projects, both short and long-form. He will continue to play a key part in Aardman’s Creative Counsel, where his invaluable insight, support and counsel will be offered in a part-time capacity. Lord will also act as an ambassador for the studio and the British animation industry more widely. He will continue to champion and encourage the next generation of talent at Aardman and across the animation world.

Sean Clarke, Managing Director of Aardman, said:

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Emma and announce these promotions. Our approach has always been to champion, nurture and empower the brilliant talent that already exists at Aardman whilst also bringing on board the best of the best from elsewhere across the entertainment industry. It allows us to capitalise on the decades of experience of our colleagues whilst also ensuring we continue to bring in fresh ideas and new and innovative thinking. Needless to say, we are delighted that our co-founder Peter Lord will continue to play a vital role both here at Aardman and across the wider animation world.”

Emma Hardie, Aardman’s new Executive Commercial and Brand Director, said:

“Aardman is an exceptional studio with an incredible history and place in the hearts of audiences worldwide. I am thrilled and honoured to be joining such a fantastic team, and look forward to bringing Aardman's much-loved characters and brands to fans and partners around the world.”