Adweek’s 2013 Brand Genius Awards Our annual salute to the brightest minds in marketing
What Makes a Brand Genius? A brief history of how our tent-pole event was born By James Cooper
A Night to Remember: Brand Genius Awards 2013 Some of the sharpest minds in marketing honored at New York's Capitale By Danielle Marshall
Forbes Magazine recently named Russell Simmons one of "Hollywood's Most Influential Celebrities." USA Today named Russell Simmons one of the "Top 25 Most Influential People of the Past 25 Years," calling him a "hip-hop pioneer" for his groundbreaking vision that has influenced music, fashion, finance, the jewelry industry, television and film, as well as the face of modern philanthropy.
From creating his seminal Def Jam Recordings in 1984, to his fashion industry changing brands including Phat Farm in 1992, Baby Phat in 2001 and current men's lifestyle brand Argyleculture, to the founding of UniRush in 2003 providing instant access to a set of basic financial services for over 48 million Americans who could not previously establish traditional banking relationships, to the 2007 publishing of his New York Times best-seller Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, to founding GlobalGrind.com, the leading online destination for celebrity entertainment, music, culture and politics for the new, post-racial America and his latest New York Times bestseller "SUPER RICH: A Guide To Having It All", Russell is recognized globally for his influence and entrepreneurial approach to both business and philanthropy.
With many decades of successes behind him, Russell recently announced the launch of three new ventures - his original content YouTube channel, All Def Digital (www.YouTube.com/AllDefDigital) — a destination for cutting-edge urban music, comedy and spoken word programming, All Def Music — a next generation music label in partnership with Universal Music Group and created to sign, develop and promote artists on YouTube, and the recently formed NARRATIVE — a digital solutions group that provides a blend of strategy, creative innovation, technology & cultural relevance to connect publishers, agencies and brands with the new American mainstream across platforms.
Giving back is of primary importance to him in all aspects of life and as Chairman and CEO of Rush Communications he has consistently leveraged his influence in the recording industry, fashion, television, financial services, and jewelry sectors to give back. A devoted yogi, Russell also leads the non-profit division of his empire, Rush Community Affairs, and its ongoing commitment to empowering at-risk youth through education, the arts, social engagement, and promoting racial harmony and strengthening inter-group relations.
Russell is a native New Yorker who attended City College of New York. He has two daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Lee.
Mark C. Bacon is Senior Vice President, Managing Director of Southern Comfort, responsible for the overall global strategic direction and marketing for Southern Comfort's Family of Brands.
Bacon has spent his entire career with Brown-Forman, joining in 1989 as a Merchandising Representative for the Northeast region. Since then, he has held various positions throughout the company, including Area Manager for Select Brands, Manager of New Products, Marketing Integration Manager, Spirits Portfolio for the Atlantic and Midwest Division, Jack Daniel's Brand Director, Vice President, Director for Finlandia Vodka Americas and Vice President, Director of Tequila in the North American Region.
While at Brown-Forman, Bacon has had the distinction of leading several of the company's iconic brands in its vast portfolio. He was an integral part of the sponsorship between Jack Daniel's and NASCAR with responsibility messaging being at the core of the program and also worked to grow the Jack Daniel's Studio #7 music program from a local market execution to a regional and eventual global platform. He also was instrumental in creating the ambassador partnership program between Emmitt Smith and Herradura Tequila. His latest endeavor has him overseeing the global revitalization of the Southern Comfort trademark. Bacon graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor's Degree in Business. He resides in Louisville, KY with his wife, Julia and their two children, Max and Olivia.
Neil Blumenthal loves helping people see. Determined to transform the eyewear industry, Neil and three friends launched Warby Parker in 2010. Prior to Warby Parker, Neil had been the Director of VisionSpring, a non-profit social enterprise that trains low-income women to start their own business selling affordable eyeglasses in developing countries. Neil was recently recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and as one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company.
Dave Gilboa is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Warby Parker, a transformative fashion brand offering designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.
Prior to Warby Parker, Dave was an Associate at merchant bank Allen & Company and, earlier, worked at Bain & Company. He also served as Special Assistant to the Founder and CEO of the TriZetto Group, and has held strategy and business development roles at Genomic Health and Crescendo Bioscience. Dave has worked extensively with non-profit organizations, and serves as a founding member of the Entrepreneur Board of Venture for America, an organization dedicated to mobilizing graduates as entrepreneurs in low-cost cities.
Born in Sweden and raised in San Diego, Dave graduated with a BS in Bioengineering with Honors from UC Berkeley and holds an MBA from Wharton Business School.
Tim Ellis is Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer for Activision, and has been recognized as being the driving force behind some of the most innovative, awarded marketing campaigns in the industry both in the U.S. and in Europe. Mr. Ellis joined Activision in July of 2011, and recently led the marketing launch for Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3, the biggest entertainment launch of all time.
Prior to joining Activision, Mr. Ellis was Head of Marketing for Volkswagen of America for close to four years. During that tenure, the company experienced double digit growth in both sales and market share. Mr. Ellis reset the brand's strategic platform, launching groundbreaking campaigns that achieved historically high marks, including the 2011 TV spot, "The Force", chosen as Ad of the Year by Adweek, and recognized as the most successful automotive Super Bowl ad ever in terms of appeal, awareness and viral viewership. Mr. Ellis is also credited with introducing a series of world-firsts in the marketing industry, including the first car ever to be launched solely on a mobile phone as part of a partnership with Apple.
Prior to joining Volkswagen, Ellis worked on both the client and agency side for 12 years in Europe managing several pan-European and global international brands such as Virgin, Ericsson and Volvo. During this period, Ellis led the development of industry-changing campaigns that earned multiple highly coveted awards, including several Gold Lions and the prestigious Titanium Award at the Cannes Advertising Festival.
Prior to working in Europe, Mr. Ellis spent most of his U.S. career managing national accounts for the San Francisco advertising agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, widely recognized as being one of the leading creative agencies in America for over 20 years.
Prior to working in the advertising and marketing industry, Ellis worked as a free-lance journalist, and professional stage actor.
Lauren joined DICK'S Sporting Goods in February 2011 as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to joining DICK'S Sporting Goods, Lauren spent 14 years working for PepsiCo in various assignments. Lauren is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and received an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University in 1997. She completed an Executive Education Course in Marketing at Kellogg in 2001.
In her tenure at DICK'S, Lauren has totally revamped the company's marketing efforts, including launching a major brand campaign, "Untouchable", that has driven both short term sales and long term brand health. The work won an Effie and scored in the top 10 of Sporting Goods ads in independent tracking. She also drove a significant improvement in the ROI of the marketing spend by shifting the marketing mix toward more efficient vehicles, including direct mail, digital and social media.
As CMO of the North American Carbonated Soft Drink Business from 1999-2001, Lauren launched the Pepsi Refresh Project, a breakthrough social media effort that leveraged a non-traditional marketing approach. The Pepsi Refresh Project generated over 75 million votes and over $40 million in earned media (PR). She also re-launched Pepsi MAX, driving over 100% growth in that brand, and launched Sierra Mist Natural in Q4 2010, the first mainstream natural CSD.
Prior to that, in 2008 and 2009, Lauren served as the Vice President of Marketing for the Energy Drink portfolio. She developed a highly breakthrough new positioning for AMP in addition to launching several new innovations that moved AMP into new categories (Gum, Juice). During this time, AMP grew over 3 share points.
From 2004-2008, Lauren was the Director of Mountain Dew where she launched several breakthrough marketing initiatives including "Dewmocracy", the first ever consumer created beverage, and the Dew Limited Edition Bottle Series. She also re-launched Diet Dew, sparking tremendous growth in that brand and making it the fastest growing Diet soda. Lauren also led the company's successful efforts to protect Mountain Dew's volume and share during a major launch from KO in the neon category (Vault).
Omar Johnson joined Beats Electronics LLC in 2010 and is Executive Vice President of Global Marketing. Johnson leads all brand marketing, advertising and communications global efforts. He applies his extensive marketing expertise across brand development, advertising, retail execution, entertainment and sports marketing, influencer youth outreach, social media, and digital execution.
Johnson helped redefine the headphone category through groundbreaking campaigns including #ShowYourColor Solo Campaign, Powerbeats starring LeBron James and The Pills featuring Chris Rock and Eminem. He has strategically and successfully made Beats the headphone of choice to the best athletes, musicians and entertainers. The business has grown from $180 million to a $1 billion dollar global icon and category leader. Beats is the number 1 premium headphone in North America, the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, South Korea and Singapore.
Previously, Johnson created and led innovative marketing programs for international brands including Nike, Coca-Cola and Campbell Soup. As an advertising lead at Nike, Johnson produced some of Nike's most memorable TV commercials including "Rise," starring LeBron James, and "All Together Now," featuring Kobe Bryant.
Johnson also built the Nike+ sports music platform, establishing Nike’s first revenue-generating relationship with record labels. Johnson and his team created an industry-first sports music program with Universal Music, Interscope, Sony,Capitol Records, Def Jam and more than 25 independent labels. This collaboration sold over 5 Million tracks to Nike consumers and deepened the connection between music and sports.
Johnson is originally from Brooklyn, New York. He received a BS from Georgia State University and an MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Born in London, UK, Steve graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in English Literature. His career began in teaching, with a position as Lecturer in English Literature and Language at the University of Naples, Italy. At various times in his 20s he also worked as a software engineer, played professionally in a rock band, and worked in IT training, before taking up a career in Marketing.
In the course of 23 years at Unilever Steve has worked across all regions of the world in various marketing and senior business leadership positions, focussed on Unilever's most notable global Personal Care brands: Dove, Vaseline, Axe, Degree, Pond's, Simple, and many others. His current responsibilities are for all aspects of brand equity, innovation and communications development worldwide for Dove. His team is spread across several global locations, although he is personally based in London.
The work has been recognised externally with several Effies (most notably a Gold Global Effie for Vaseline), and numerous Cannes Lions in multiple offline and online categories across the other brands mentioned above. Award winning work on Dove includes Ad Makeover, Camera Shy, and Real Beauty Sketches.
Steve has two daughters, both now at university in the UK, and live just outside London with his wife, an interior designer.
Fernando Machado is the Global Brand Development Vice-President for Dove Skin at Unilever. He oversees a considerable part of the Dove business worldwide, including the Dove Beauty Bar, Dove Body Wash, and the Dove Skin Care portfolio (all focused on the female segment). His main responsibilities include strategy, innovation, and communication development. He is very passionate about brands and advertising. That is why he occasionally helps the Dove Masterbrand team by leading the charge in some efforts such as the Dove Ad Makeover, Dove Camera Shy and the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaigns.
Fernando joined Unilever back in 1996 and has had the opportunity to work on different brands and product categories in various geographies. He firmly believes that brands should have a purpose and mean something more than just the products they sell. He is most proud of the work he did for Pond's in Latin America, Vaseline Global and now Dove Global. Fernando is currently based in London, where he lives with his lovely wife and his well-travelled dog. He is an optimist, but after 3 years in the UK, he has already given up hope for consecutive sunny days in London.
Kevin Mayer is Vice President, Marketing for Volkswagen of America, Inc. In this role, Mayer is responsible for establishing marketing platforms and strategic direction for the Volkswagen brand. In addition, he leads the marketing communications strategy and execution including product advertising, media, digital marketing, experiential marketing and social media.
Mayer came to the Volkswagen brand from General Motors Corporation in Detroit, MI, where he served as Director of Advertising and Sales Promotion for the Chevrolet Division. Prior to his General Motors appointment, Mayer held marketing and advertising roles in with Subaru, Colby & Partners, Mitsubishi Motors and Hyundai of America.
Mayer earned an undergraduate degree in Communications from Purdue University and an MBA in Marketing and Marketing Science from the Anderson School at UCLA.
Todd Pendleton currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for Samsung Mobile USA. Since joining Samsung in June of 2011, Todd has reshaped the company's brand image in the U.S. with the launch of "The Next Big Thing is Here" marketing campaign to align with the company's position as the #1 manufacturer of mobile devices.
Under Todd's leadership, Samsung Mobile USA has been one of the fastest growing social brands (Facebook/Twitter) in the world growing more than 26 million fans in 16 months. Mashable called Samsung Mobile the "breakthrough brand of 2012." The company was also named "Top Riser" on Interbrand's Best Global Brands list and improved its ranking from #17 to #9 as a result of a 40 percent rise in brand value.
His creative vision for "The Next Big Thing" campaign has resulted in three of the top five "most viral tech videos of 2012," according to the media research group Visible Measures, with the "The Next Big Thing is Already Here" ad for the Galaxy S III claiming the top spot.
Samsung Mobile's marketing is cited by the Wall Street Journal as a big reason there is a shift in perception that Apple has "lost its cool to Samsung."
In addition to defining the brand for the organization, Todd sets the marketing strategy for iconic products and Samsung Mobile's channel presence. He has overseen the most successful product launches in the company's history including the Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S4.
With an extensive sneaker collection to prove it, Todd spent 15 years at Nike, Inc. prior to joining Samsung. During his tenure, Todd advanced from advertising manager to become Nike's first Basketball Brand Manager. During his tenure he led the team that signed LeBron James and Kobe Bryant along with the creation of Nike's first book: Sole Provider – 30 years of Nike Basketball. He then went on to leadership positions at a country, regional and global level including the role of Global Brand Communications Director. Todd led some of the company's most iconic marketing campaigns including Freestyle - Time Magazine's 2001 Ad of the Year; the Grammy nominated: "I'm Better Than I've Ever Been" 25 Years of Air Force One celebration; "Write the Future" Global World Cup campaign; Livestrong: "Chalkbot" Tour de France initiative and Nike China's "Just Do It" Olympic campaign.
Todd holds a bachelor's degree from Northeastern University, located in Boston, MA.
Born in Kenya, Mark Waller attended Monmouth Grammar School before graduating with honors from Durham University (England) with a BA degree in Spanish and Italian.
Immediately after graduation he embarked on an international business career that now spans more than 22 years with global companies and includes positions overseas in the United Kingdom, Spain, the Canary Islands, Greece and the United States. He joined the NFL on February 1, 2006 and was named the first CMO in the league's history in September 2009.
He began his business career with Gallaher Ltd, the UK tobacco manufacturer of market-leading brands Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut, in 1983. After five years in Gallaher's International Division, Mark worked at Guinness and later at United Distillers Greece. Mark moved to the USA in 1996, initially as VP Marketing for Scheffelin & Somerset, with overall responsibility for the marketing of Johnnie Walker, Dewars and Tanqueray brands. With the merger of Guinness/Grand Metropolitan, Mark led the business integration in the Midwest as President-Central Region.
In 2003, Waller joined Diageo North America as executive vice president for consumer strategy & marketing. In this role Mark led the design and execution of strategies to grow the popularity of spirits with the U.S. consumer using integrated innovation and marketing programs. Mark also spearheaded the development of legislative and consumer access initiatives to broaden the availability of the spirits within the United States.
In his current capacity with the NFL, Mark oversees integrated marketing of all platforms and properties, including NFL Ventures and NFL Media, as well as the NFL's international activities. He is responsible for ensuring that the NFL brand is consistently presented in alignment with the League's goals and developing the NFL's long-term international strategy. Mark serves on the league's Business Ventures senior management team.
Mark is married with two children and lives in Darien, CT.
In just over five years, entrepreneur and philanthropist Hamdi Ulukaya has grown Chobani from a yogurt startup in central New York to a $1 billion business, making Chobani one of the fastest-growing companies in history. The company remains 100% financially independent. Now the No. 1 selling Greek Yogurt brand in America, Chobani has transformed the U.S. yogurt category with products that are delicious, nutritious, accessible to all, and made with only natural ingredients.
A Kurdish immigrant from eastern Turkey, Hamdi founded Chobani in 2005 with the help of a Small Business Administration loan. Chobani's second manufacturing facility – the world's largest yogurt manufacturing plant – is located in Twin Falls, Idaho. In 2010, Hamdi created the Shepherd's Gift Foundation, which gives 10% of the company's profits to support positive, lasting change in the community. Prior to Chobani, Hamdi was the founder of Euphrates, a feta cheese company.
Hamdi is passionate about revitalizing manufacturing in the U.S., and the entrepreneurial potential of small towns and rural America. He sits on the boards of the American Turkish Council, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Pathfinder Village, and the Kennedy Center Corporate Fund. He resides in New Berlin, N.Y., with his two German Shepherds.
Register now! Contact Alex More for more information: