Aardman recruits BBC Studios’ Emma Hardie, co-founder Peter Lord steps down from board in rejig

Emma Hardie (Source: Aardman)

UK animation house Aardman has hired BBC Studios exec Emma Hardie to the newly created role of executive commercial and brand director, amid a rejig of its executive board.

Hardie will join the company on 15 April and will lead the commercial exploitation of Aardman’s brand portfolio, overseeing the strategy for financing, distribution, licensing, marketing and long-term planning of the studio’s animated intellectual property.

She currently serves as commercial director of global entertainment at BBC Studios, where she has delivered talent and content partnerships, such as investments in Mothership TV and Mettlemouse Entertainment and a co-development deal with Japan’s Nippon TV. Hardie also oversaw global brand extensions such as an 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.

Lloyd Of The Flies

Executive board changes

Hardie arrives amid a larger reshuffle at Aardman, with co-founder Peter Lord to step down from the board, while retaining his role as creative director. Acting as executive producer, Lord will continue to provide development expertise and creative oversight and will play a key part in Aardman’s Creative Counsel.

Joanna Cave has meanwhile been promoted from head of finance to finance director, following the departure of Kerry Lock, the studio’s former director of finance & operations after 28 years with the business.

Aardman has also promoted existing executive board members Sarah Cox and Daniel Efergan to chief creative director and executive creative director of interactive & innovation, respectively. In her new role, Cox will continue to lead the creative direction of Aardman whilst also playing a key role in broader studio strategic planning, and will oversee the development slate and the wider studio creative remit.

Cox 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 resulted in the Morph spin-off Very Small Creatures for Sky; Lloyd Of The Flies for 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 Shaun The Sheep: Adventures From Mossy Bottom. Prior to joining Aardman, Cox was co-owner of ArthurCox, a film and animation production company, which she launched in 2002 alongside Sally Arthur.

Efergan’s promotion will meanwhile 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 worked on interactive projects such as the Tate Movie Project and World of Invention, and led or supported others, including 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.

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.”

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