- With the $US221 billion US ad industry facing disruption on several fronts, the chief marketing officer’s role is more complex than ever.
- CMOs have to navigate fragmented consumer attention, pioneer new ad models, and grapple with competition from direct-to-consumer upstarts.
- Here’s Business Insider’s fourth annual ranking of the CMOs who most stand out in overcoming these challenges.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
With the $US221 billion ad industry in the US facing disruption on several fronts, the job of the CMO has gotten greater in scope, scale, and complexity.
Marketing chiefs have to not only capture increasingly fragmented consumer attention but also pioneer new advertising models. They have to navigate sometimes fraught relationships with the digital ad giants and often compete with direct-to-consumer upstarts upending traditional marketing.
With CMOs becoming increasingly important in the C-suite as stewards steering their organisations through such seismic shifts, Business Insider is recognising those rising to the occasion.
They don’t all necessarily hold the CMO title, but are senior marketing executives at consumer-facing brands who are affecting change in their own companies and the industry at large.
Here’s our fourth annual ranking of the world’s most innovative CMOs. Like last year, we named 25 honorees to the list this year. Scroll on to see the marketers who made the cut.
We relied on a mix of our own reporting, nominations from readers, and the recommendations of an advisory council to narrow down the finalists. We then put the names up to a vote, with the council giving each nominee a rank between 1 and 25. We based the final rankings on the average scores.
Our advisory council was made up of Medialink’s chief transformation officer Dana Anderson, R3 cofounder and principal Greg Paull, Forrester analyst Jay Pattisall, and former 360i chairwoman and comScore president Sarah Hofstetter. The CMOs were ranked based on:
- How effectively they married creativity, science, and technology in their campaigns.
- How they’re wresting more control of their marketing by rethinking traditional advertising models.
- If they mastered the art of storytelling across platforms and pushed the boundaries of creativity.
- How they demonstrated that they can ably respond to disruption.
- How they’re helping to move organisations, spur innovation, drive business growth, and shape cultural narratives.
The other factors we considered were the size of the executive’s brand; how much the brand’s footprint grew in the past year; the extent of their role and responsibilities; their influence in the marketing and advertising industry; and whether their marketing efforts drove their company’s performance.
25. Linda Boff, Chief Marketing Officer, GE
Keeping a brand that’s over 100 years old relevant is no easy feat, but this 16-year veteran has delivered on the task through the years by humanising GE through real-life applications of its technologies and using cultural moments to promote itself.
For example, Boff recently drove creative executions including sponsoring The New York Times Magazine’s audio “Voyages” issue and partnered with fashion designer Zac Posen to 3D-print a sculptural dress worn by model Jourdan Dunn at the Met Gala.
24. Kristin Lemkau, Chief Marketing Officer, JPMorgan Chase
Lemkau has been at the forefront of the movement to clarify the murky digital advertising landscape, pushing the industry to deal with ad fraud and brand safety.
She slashed the number of sites that JPMorgan Chase advertises on and pushed it to develop an algorithm to protect its brand on YouTube. She also worked on the “End Family Fire” campaign to promote gun safety alongside the AdCouncil and Droga5.
She also launched a multiyear partnership with actor and comedian Kevin Hart to promote financial fitness and tout the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card, and has brought new talent on board, including Leanne Fremar and Andrew Knott as chief brand officer and chief media officer, respectively, to lead the company’s $US5 billion ad budget.
23. David Rubin, Chief Marketing Officer, The New York Times
With powerful campaigns like “The Truth is Hard” and its sequel, “The Truth is Worth It,” The New York Times’ marketing under Rubin has mirrored its hard-hitting editorial coverage, making the case that quality journalism is worth paying for. And The Times has notched one banner subscription year after another, hitting 4.5 million paid subs earlier this year.
This year Rubin’s team has gone on to launch NYT Cooking and Crossword’s first campaigns and teamed with Everlane to raise awareness about climate-change journalism.
22. Matthew Anderson, Chief Marketing Officer, Roku
The head of the streaming giant’s marketing since 2013, Anderson has been instrumental in product development along with leading marketing and communications.
During his tenure, Roku has become both the No. 1 TV streaming platform and the most licensed TV OS, with 29 million active accounts. Recently, he’s driven awareness for the brand through a holiday campaign that targeted viewers based on their preferences and an April Fools’ campaign where it introduced a pet-friendly remote.
As cord-cutting accelerates, expect Roku to continue to gain ground. Its shares are already up more than 200% so far this year, and its operating system powered more than a third of the smart TVs sold in the US in the first quarter of 2019.
21. Todd Kaplan, VP of Marketing, Pepsi Cola
With its self-deprecating Super Bowl spot this year featuring Lil Jon, Steve Carell, and Cardi B asking “Is Pepsi OK?,” the soda maker put its tone-deaf Kendall Jenner ad from 2017 behind it.
Kaplan not only greenlighted the ad but was behind Pepsi’s effort to troll Coca-Cola with billboards around its Atlanta headquarters that read “Pepsi in Atlanta. How refreshing.”
On a serious note, Kaplan is also helping Pepsi diversify its product portfolio, adopt a challenger mindset, and do more consumer-led marketing as people ditch sugary soft drinks.
He has spearheaded the launch of new brands like Lifewtr and Bubly and tested out new concepts, like Nitro Pepsi and adding fruit juice to Pepsi, helping Pepsi grow 4% through April 2019, registering its strongest growth in the past seven years, according to IRI.
20. Meredith Verdone, Chief Marketing Officer, Bank of America
In 2018, Verdone stewarded Bank of America through a new brand positioning – “What would you like the power to do?” – the bank’s first unified campaign for the entire company. The ads promoted the company’s message of making people’s financial lives better and featured CEO Brian Moynihan.
Verdone is also guiding the company’s inroads into AI, and tackling industry issues like brand safety. Bank of America has whittled down the number of sites where its ads run t0 3,000, and appointed Terri Schriver to focus on brand safety full-time last year.
19. Chris Capossela, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Microsoft
With a 27-year career at Microsoft spanning engineering, sales, and marketing, Capossela oversees its global marketing organisation and consumer business.
He’s focused on having Microsoft’s ads emphasise accessibility, empowerment, diversity, and inclusion. Its 2019 Super Bowl commercial, for example, illustrated the company’s commitment to building accessible technology that levels the playing field and creates opportunity for all.
18. Gail Tifford, Chief Brand Officer, WW International
Just a few months into her role last fall, Tifford guided WW (formerly Weight Watchers) through the biggest pivot in its history, when it shifted its 55-year-old diet focus to wellness. Since then, she has been heading its “Wellness that Works” proposition emphasising healthier habits, mindfulness, and community.
Tifford is also tackling gender inequality in media and advertising as the cofounder of the #SeeHer initiative of the Association of National Advertisers, which seeks to promote accurate and authentic representation of women in advertising. The coalition has grown to include more than 1,000 brands representing $US70 billion in combined media ad spending.
17. Kelly Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer, Hulu
Campbell oversees Hulu’s marketing efforts and its subscriber acquisition, engagement, and retention efforts. In her two-year tenure, Hulu’s subscriber base has swelled 64%, to more than 28 million, according to the company.
Along with blockbuster original series like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and national campaigns like “Better Ruins Everything,” credit goes to Campbell’s helping Hulu secure high-profile sports partnerships such as the NBA Western Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals.
The company has also been quick to jump on timely cultural moments with its marketing, whether it’s releasing a teaser for the latest season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” referencing Ronald Reagan’s iconic “Morning in America” Super Bowl spot, or by hijacking the viral “World Record Egg” meme on Instagram to raise awareness of mental-health issues.
16. Diego Scotti, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Verizon Communications
Diversity has been a focus for this Verizon exec, in terms of its advertising and management ranks. Scotti was behind the “Real Good Reasons” campaign, which has diverse audiences and actual Verizon customers in real-life situations. He also created the brand’s diversity fellowship program in 2017, which has graduated two cohorts of fellows and expanded to 12 agencies from six and to new brands like American Express and Anheuser-Busch InBev.
The Argentina native is also passionate about humanising technology. Verizon’s 2019 Super Bowl campaign, “The Team That Wouldn’t Be Here,” featured 11 NFL players and a coach whose lives were saved by first responders, to celebrate technology and emotional connections.
15. Tony Weisman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dunkin’ US
Weisman led marketing of the doughnut chain’s biggest transformation last year when the company dropped “Doughnuts” from its name.
The overhaul was a risky bet on making Dunkin relevant with health-conscious millennials and Gen-Z customers while putting a focus on coffee drinks.
Weisman also launched an espresso line of products and put in place a new model to increase collaboration between Dunkin’ and its ad agencies.
14. Gretchen Saegh-Fleming, Chief Marketing Officer, L’Oréal USA
As the definition of beauty evolves, and Saegh-Fleming has made sure the makeup giant’s products reflect the diversity of its customers.
She launched a personalised serum-dispensing service for over 250 skin types and conditions and a line of Maybelline lipsticks that complement more than 50 complexions. She also was behind a new gender-neutral fragrance “Rose Anonyme” from Atelier Cologne.
Saegh-Fleming has used her e-commerce and digital background to good effect. L’Oréal USA’s e-commerce sales grew 17% year over year in 2018 compared to 2017, according to the company.
13. Rick Gomez, EVP and Chief Marketing and Digital Officer, Target
The “retailpocalypse” notwithstanding, Target had its best performance in more than a decade last year, with help from Gomez and his team.
Gomez’s team uses quantitative research and face-to-face conversations to learn about customers and translates those insights into campaigns such as “Target Run and Done,” which highlighted its pickup and delivery options.
Gomez oversees the marketing and media strategy, creative, guest research, loyalty, its in-house media company Roundel, and the company’s corporate responsibility efforts. He also leads its e-commerce business and digital strategy.
12. Carolyn Tisch-Blodgett, SVP, Brand Marketing, Peloton
After amassing a cult following on the back of its interactive smart bikes, fitness brand Peloton has become a multiplatform fitness company that’s on its way to going public.
Tisch-Blodgett has helped the brand stand out in a crowded fitness landscape by using a mix of TV, digital, radio, and even billboards. She recently oversaw the launch of Peloton Tread, a connected treadmill, Peloton Yoga. and its UK expansion.
Peloton has over a million members globally, according to the brand. It was recognised for a 2018 Winter Olympics campaign in which it broadcast live spin classes from Korea, winning the brand its first Effie Award last month.
11. Jeff Brooks, Chief Marketing Officer, Casper
Brooks has helped Casper grow from a mattress startup to a full-blown sleep company, with branded content across channels like Instagram TV, YouTube, and Spotify, a nap room called “The Dreamery,” and 20 new retail stores.
As its head of marketing, Brooks oversees Casper’s brand and product strategy, media, creative, social, content, data and analytics, CRM, and PR. He’s brought new products to market, including the “Casper Glow” light, which the company said sold out in less than three weeks.
Brooks is charged with growing Casper overseas, a critical task as the company is rumoured to be going public. The company had its biggest year in 2018, when it surpassed $US400 million in revenue.
10. Philip Schiller, SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Apple
Apple has a storied creative legacy, from its iconic “1984” Super Bowl commercial to its “Get Mac” campaign from 2006, which pitted versions of the Mac and the PC against each other, personified by Justin Long and John Hodgman.
Under Schiller, Apple has continued to raise the bar for creativity. 2018’s “Barbers” and 2019’s “Welcome Home” by agency TBWA/MAL, directed by Spike Jonze, contributed to Apple winning Cannes Lions’ creative marketer of the year.
Apple has won accolades for its in-store retail workshop program, “Today at Apple,” created by Work & Co., which brings interactivity to its stores with sessions for visitors such as Live Art, Photo Walks, and Kids Hour.
9. Marisa Thalberg, Global Chief Brand Officer, Taco Bell
Taco Bell has a history of being irreverent and playful in its marketing. Thalberg has kept that spirit going, teasing the launch of a Taco Bell-themed hotel, getting Taco Bell’s Las Vegas Cantina location to double as a wedding venue, and recreating the Westminster chimes by digitally mixing in Taco Bell’s iconic bell sound at London’s Big Ben.
She also oversaw rollouts of “Nacho Fries” in 2018 and 2019 – Taco Bell’s most successful product launch to date – and tests of its first vegetarian menu in Dallas.
8. Silvia Dias Lagnado, EVP and Global Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald’s
In a little over three years, Lagnado has redefined McDonald’s brand purpose, unified its visual identity, launched an internal program to celebrate creativity in advertising, and invested in CRM, data, and insights.
The fast-food giant recently acquired AI startup Dynamic Yield for $US300 million to personalise its drive-through menu recommendations to customers, among other things. The company has also kept up on the creative front with campaigns like “Is a Big Mac with Bacon Still a Big Mac?” and is among brands forging new approach to advertising with its dedicated agency We Are Unlimited.
7. Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Mastercard
Mastercard likes to think of itself as not just a payments company but as a technology company, an approach Rajamannar has extended to its marketing.
After dabbling in virtual reality and chat bots, Rajamannar, who has run Mastercard’s marketing for six years, pushed the brand to remove its name from its logo earlier this year. He also rolled out a sonic identity for Mastercard – a tune that the company plans to use across all its touchpoints, from its commercials to what’s played when a customer completes a transaction.
Rajamannar was recently appointed president of trade body World Federation of Advertisers, and has also helped evolve Mastercard’s decades-long Priceless campaign to make it more passion-driven.
6. Marc Pritchard, Global Chief Brand Officer, P&G
As the top marketer of the world’s No. 2 advertiser, Pritchard is the undisputed leader among a handful of CMOs pushing to clean up digital advertising’s messes, cut waste from ad budgets, hold tech companies more accountable and call for a new media supply chain.
Lately, he has also been advocating for brands to be forces for good. Along with boosting P&G’s sales, he has promoted debate with brands like Gillette taking strong points of view on social issues like toxic masculinity and transgender rights.
5. Jill Baskin, Chief Marketing Officer, The Hershey Co.
Since taking over marketing at The Hershey Co. a year and a half ago, Baskin has breathed new life into its iconic candy products.
She’s gotten the insights, strategy, design, creative, and media-buying teams to work more closely together, improved return on media spending by nearly 10%, reduced overhead by 25%, and increased the output of C-Sweet, its in-house content studio.
Baskin has also overseen new creative campaigns for brands like Reese’s and Hershey’s; partnered with influencer company Famebit and e-sports platform Twitch; and rolled out new products like Hershey’s Gold and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Reese’s Pieces.
4. Chris Spadaccini, Chief Marketing Officer, WarnerMedia Entertainment
While heading up marketing for HBO, Spadaccini had the advantage of having cult favourite franchises like “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld” under his purview. And he elevated their hype by bringing their plots to life multiple times – literally.
For the final season of “Game of Thrones,” for example, he got agencies to pull off a real-world SXSW activation, a worldwide social campaign for blood donation, and a crossover spot with Bud Light for the Super Bowl for HBO’s #ForTheThrone campaign.
No wonder that his role was recently expanded to oversee marketing for all of WarnerMedia Entertainment, AT&T’s new entertainment unit that comprises HBO, TBS, TNT, truTV, and its forthcoming direct-to-consumer offering.
3. Marcel Marcondes, US Chief Marketing Officer, Anheuser-Busch InBev
After hitting meme status with Bud Light’s “Dilly Dilly” in 2018, AB InBev did it again in 2019 by teaming up with HBO for a crossover “Game of Thrones” Super Bowl ad.
But it’s not all about viral memes. Under Marcondes, the company has also been evolving its portfolio to meet changing consumer tastes, launching organic beer Michelob Ultra Pure Gold with help from a mass-meditation stunt at SXSW.
Marcondes hasn’t shied away from locking horns with competitors Coors Light and Miller Lite either, plastering nutritional labels on Bud Light bottles and using the Super Bowl stage to criticise them for using corn syrup in their products.
He also oversaw AB InBev’s agreements with the NBA and the MLB players’ associations, becoming the first alcoholic beverage company to secure rights to partner with players in the leagues for marketing purposes.
2. Dirk-Jan van Hameren, VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Nike
While many brands have flirted with taking a stand on controversial issues in recent years, none has been as bold and successful as Nike with its Colin Kaepernick campaign in 2018.
Van Hameren oversaw Nike’s 30th anniversary celebrations of its iconic “Just Do It” tagline that featured Kaepernick and included the “Dream Crazy,” “Dream Crazier,” and “Voice of Belief” campaigns. Nike’s stocks skyrocketed after the ad, with sales jumping 31%, according to Time.
That’s not to say it’s been all smooth sailing for Nike, which recently came under fire after a New York Times investigation revealed that it was among companies that have penalised pregnant female athletes.
1. Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Burger King
Machado continues to push creative boundaries, delivering innovative and wacky advertising campaigns for the fast-food giant.
Its recent “Moody Meals” campaign threw shade at McDonald’s Happy Meals. Its Google Home of the Whopper TV spot hacked Google Home devices to dish details about its signature Whopper burger. Machado has also tackled hot-button issues like LGBTQ rights and net neutrality in campaigns.
More recently, Machado led the Whopper Detour, which used geo fencing to promote Burger King’s mobile app by offering customers massive discounts on its burgers if they went by a McDonald’s. The stunt drove more than 1.5 million app downloads.
Machado also oversaw Burger King’s first Super Bowl spot in 13 years, which turned heads by making archival footage of Andy Warhol eating a Whopper into a 45-second ad.
And Burger King is on a growth tear. While its parent Restaurant Brands International’s most recent quarterly earnings fell short of analyst expectations, its market value of $US29.9 billion is up 23% this year while the much bigger McDonald’s market value rose 10%. Burger King also opened up 1,000 restaurants around the globe last year to McDonald’s 600.
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