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The Power List

The 100 Most Influential Leaders in Marketing, Media and Tech

Google's Larry Page tops Adweek's first Power List

Typography: Jordan Metcalf


Presenting Adweek's inaugural Power List, our ranking of the 100 most influential, innovative and effective leaders controlling media, marketing and technology. To assemble this list, we considered the profiles and results of corporate titans, taking into account such criteria as the value of company assets, revenue and revenue growth, consumer reach and affinity, market performance, standing among rivals, employees overseen, key acquisitions and partnerships, and industry accolades and media buzz. Agency chieftains, tech titans, media execs and the CEOs of top brand marketers populate the universe we cover day to day—and the top of the top are represented here.

1. Larry Page 
CEO, co-founder, Google
Revenue: $66 billion
Employees: 53,600 

Larry Page Photo: James Leynse/Corbis

Larry Page opened a new window into the Information Age 17 years ago when he and Sergey Brin formed Google, revolutionizing the way practically every human being accesses information. Of course, Google has grown far beyond search. It is one of the most powerful corporations on the planet— and Page, 42, is the principal architect of that success.

"Larry will be known as a person who is relentless in driving his company to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities that come from the explosion of tech," says Steven Levy, author of In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives. "He takes a long view when many others fret about the short term."

Page has actually served two terms as CEO, serving as president of products during Eric Schmidt's decade-long run as chief executive. Since Page returned to the top job in 2011, Google's market cap has nearly doubled to $370 billion, as profits soared to $14.4 billion (up from $8.5 billion at the time Schmidt slid into the chairman role). "Larry helped build a company that made a huge difference in how we behave," says Levy, "and if some of his big bets pay off, search won't be the only big difference Google makes.

Google's ubiquity is astonishing. From Android to Chromebooks, from AdWords to Maps and so much more, there's virtually no corner of technology, media and advertising in which Google is not a player. "We want to build technology that everybody loves using, and that affects everyone," Page has said. "We want to create beautiful, intuitive services and technologies that are so incredibly useful that people use them twice a day. Like they use a toothbrush. There aren't that many things people use twice a day."

An intense, driven personality, Page wants to provide big products and services that have global impact. He continues to broaden Google's horizons, developing self-driving cars, drones (Project Wing) and super-fast connectivity (Google Fiber).

Yes, there have been glitches. The Google+ social network never clicked, Google Glass' future seems foggy, and the company has come under increased pressure in Europe over privacy concerns. Even so, the transcendent power of the company is indisputable. It has, in short, become an essential thread in the fabric of modern life.

"Lots of companies don't succeed over time," Page once said. "What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it? And how do we power our organization to really focus on that and really drive it at a high rate?"

2. Tim Cook
CEO, Apple
Revenue: $182.8 billion
Employees: 98,000

Cook, 54, followed the legendary Steve Jobs—and he's well on his way to becoming as big a legend. In nearly four years at the helm, Apple doubled its market capitalization, becoming the first U.S. company to hit $700 billion. Its financials routinely set records, including Q1 earnings of $18 billion, the most for any company in a single quarter ever. Q2 sales of 61.2 million iPhones "blew away even the most bullish forecasts," reported CNN Money—and 1 million consumers in the U.S. alone pre-ordered the Apple Watch on its first day of availability. Clearly, Cook has built on Jobs' facility to fuel broad cultural trends. What's more, the openly gay CEO took to The Washington Post's op-ed page in March to warn against pending "religious freedom" legislation in various states that could result in discrimination against the LGBT community.

3. Mark Zuckerberg
CEO, chairman, co-founder, Facebook
Revenue: $12.5 billion
Employees: 10,082

Zuckerberg, 31, changed the way the planet stays connected, informed and entertained—and despite cries it is losing influence among millennials, Facebook shows no sign of losing muscle. Its market cap hovers around $220 billion—more than double its value at the time of its IPO three years ago. In Q1, the dominant social net claimed 1.44 billion monthly active users and 1.25 billion monthly mobile users, growth of 13 and 24 percent, respectively. Zuckerberg's focus on mobile advertising could further turbo-charge growth, while Instant Articles may well herald a sea change in digital content. And yet, Zuckerberg and his domain represent more than mere figures on a balance sheet and "friends" amassed. Eleven years after Facebook's launch, the company remains the embodiment of instantaneous communication and sharing on a global scale, making the world a much less lonely place for a billion of us.

4. Robert Iger
CEO, chairman, The Walt Disney Co. (includes ABC, ESPN, Disney theme parks)
Revenue:
$48.8 billion
Employees: 180,000

Robert Iger Photo: Wesley Mann/August

The force is with Iger, 64, who is credited with revitalizing and expanding Disney's empire in his decade at the helm through a mix of people skills (he can mend fences), strategic genius (aggressive, diversified merchandising to enhance films' profitability) and savvy acquisitions including Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. Under Iger, Disney's market cap has more than doubled to $185 billion—making it no surprise that the company extended his contract through 2018.

5. A.G. Lafley
CEO, president, chairman, Procter & Gamble
Revenue:
$83 billion
Employees: 118,000

Lafley, 67, is an innovative thinker and savvy marketer who gives brands at the world's largest advertiser leeway to forge sharper images while staying true to the middle-American ethos the company's come to represent. Currently, he has cost cutting on his mind, and plans to divest numerous brands in order to focus on big sellers like Tide, Crest, Gillette and Always (whose "Like a Girl" campaign last year swept social media and the industry, winning the PR Grand Clio Award) while simultaneously trimming marketing costs (U.S. media chores just went into review). "Less will be much more," Lafley has said. "We are going to create a faster growing, more profitable company that's far simpler to operate."

6. Rupert Murdoch
CEO, chairman, 21st Century Fox (includes Fox film studio and television network, Star TV, Sky); executive chairman, News Corp. (includes Dow Jones, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal)
Revenue:
$31.9 billion (Fox); $8.6 billion (News Corp.)
Employees: 20,000 (Fox), 25,000 (News Corp.)

After six decades in the business, this old-school media titan is not just a legend but also still very much a maverick. Even with his company's already considerable influence on the business (Michael Wolff's biography of Murdoch was titled The Man Who Owns the News), Murdoch, 84, remains intent on growing his empire, even though last year's $80 billion bid for Time Warner fizzled. "I just felt with all the uncertainties in the world, I didn't want to be carrying that degree of debt," Murdoch has said of that deal. Might he make another run at that target, or others? Stay tuned.

7. Martin Sorrell
CEO, WPP Group
Revenue:
$17.4 billion
Employees: 179,000


Martin Sorrell Photo: Pal Hansen/Contour by Getty

Despite an 8 percent Q1 revenue spike, Sorrell warned of a "demanding year" ahead for adland's largest holding company, with no Olympics or World Cup to fuel growth across its properties, which include Grey, JWT, Ogilvy & Mather and Y&R. The outspoken Sorrell, 70, tweaked rivals Omnicom and Publicis when their proposed merger collapsed—and he's established himself as a particularly droll and perceptive pundit on matters of marketing and media. When Sorrell speaks, we all listen.

8. Brian Roberts
CEO, chairman, Comcast (includes NBCUniversal, Universal Studios, MSNBC, Telemundo)
Revenue:
$68.8 billion
Employees: 139,000

Roberts, 55, invested a hefty $336 million on a failed attempt to add Time Warner Cable to the Comcast fold, a quest he finally abandoned in April owing to government opposition. On the plus side, he's strengthened operations at both the NBC television network (the broadcast leader among adults 18-49) and its cable operations, while the company's just-wrapped upfront presentations were a huge hit—with 168 of the planet's biggest stars (Dolly Parton! The Kardashians!) making the trek to New York to woo advertisers. In fact, NBCU contributed $25.4 billion in revenue last year to the Comcast bottom line, a 7.5 percent year-over-year gain.

9. Indra Nooyi
CEO, chairman, PepsiCo
Revenue: $66.7 billion
Employees: 271,000


Indra Nooyi

She shoots—she scores! PepsiCo recently unseated the Coca-Cola Co. as the official food and beverage partner of the NBA. That gives Nooyi, 59, control of beverage rights across all four major U.S. pro leagues, reflecting her desire to "redefine the meaning of sports marketing partnerships." Pepsi also sponsors the Super Bowl halftime show—and the NBA play should resonate with millennial consumers as the company leverages the relationship across Doritos, Ruffles and Mountain Dew. Meanwhile, Gatorade was selected to receive the Clio Sports Grand Icon Award this year.

10. Jeff Bezos
CEO, chairman, president, founder, Amazon.com
Revenue:
$88.9 billion
Employees: 154,100


Jeff Bezos Photo: Pari Dukovic/Trunk Archive

Running the mightiest American e-commerce company, Bezos, 51, sits at the intersection of content, commerce and technology, with Amazon playing an outsized role in shaping tastes and defining popular culture. Bezos' ambitions are sky-high—literally—as he proposes Amazon deliveries from drones, an idea that's being scrutinized by federal regulators. His more terrestrial interests had him buying The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, with old media hands speculating (praying?) that other icons of print media may find their ultimate savior in billionaire white knights.

11. Leslie Moonves
CEO, president, CBS (includes CBS network, Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix, CBS Films)
Revenue:
$13.8 billion
Employees: 25,000

Moonves, 65, a supremely confident, smart, pugnacious player, has become a legendary figure in the broadcast business by restoring the shine of "the Tiffany network" while expanding its reach substantially. In extending his contract through June 2019, the board praised his push for ratings success (long-running hits include The Big Bang Theory and NCIS), his retransmission, on-demand and streaming deals, his takedown of Aereo, and the successful launch of CBS All Access and CBSN.

12. Irene Rosenfeld
CEO, chairman, Mondelez
Revenue:
$34.2 billion
Employees: 104,000


Irene Rosenfeld Photo: Mike McGregor/Countour by Getty

Acutely aware that the snack-food category is in transition, Rosenfeld, 62, has worked hard to polish the image of scores of Mondelez brands since the company spun out of Kraft three years ago. Healthy pitches for Belvita and Triscuit acknowledge consumers' changing tastes, while quirky Oreos ads stress fun and inclusive Honey Maid campaigns deliciously celebrate the modern family.

13. Paul Polman
CEO, Unilever
Revenue:
$52 billion
Employees: 172,000

At the world's No. 2 advertiser (behind P&G), Polman, 58, leads an ambitious effort to halve the environmental impact of Unilever's product portfolio—which ranges from Axe, Dove and Caress to Hellmann's, Ben & Jerry's and Vaseline—by 2020. That has rankled some investors in light of Unilever's sales slowdown in emerging markets. Ironically, last year's false-advertising lawsuit, ultimately dropped, against Just Mayo generated a Change.org petition with 112,000 signatures demanding that Unilever "stop bullying sustainable food companies."

14. Jeff Bewkes
CEO, chairman, Time Warner (includes Warner Bros., The CW, DC Comics, HBO, Turner, CNN)
Revenue:
$27.3 billion
Employees: 25,000

Bewkes, 63, sent Rupert Murdoch—with his $80-billion buyout bid—packing. But is TW really better off alone? Its share price has hovered around $85—which is what Murdoch offered—but ad sales were sluggish last year amid a falloff in audience numbers and weaker ad demand. TW rebounded in Q1, owing to NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament coverage, which Bewkes called "a multiplatform success" that drove Turner cable channels' "best quarter ever." Meanwhile, Murdoch sits courtside, watching and waiting.

15. John Wren
CEO, president, Omnicom
Revenue:
$15.3 billion
Employees: 74,000

Omnicom's proposed merger with French rival Publicis Groupe bit the dust. Sacré bleu! Even so, Wren, 62, led adland's No. 2 holding company—parent of the BBDO, DDB and TBWA networks and Omnicom Media Group—to a solid performance last year. Its 5 percent global revenue gain beat the company's own projections, and Wren has vowed that Omnicom would work hard to best this year's 3.5 percent growth estimate.

16. Carlos Brito
CEO, Anheuser-Busch InBev
Revenue:
$47.1 billion
Employees: 155,000

The Brazilian king of beers may soon add fizz to operations at the world's largest brewer. Brito, 54, could make a play for PepsiCo—or else target his main rival in the global beer market, SABMiller. On tap for the foreseeable future: pitching Budweiser to millennials, a move designed to reverse the brand's quarter-century U.S. decline owing to craft brews' rise in popularity.

17. Akio Toyoda
CEO, president, Toyota
Revenue:
$248 billion
Employees: 338,000


Akio Toyoda Photo: Ko Sasaki

This scion of the Japanese automotive dynasty has brought a sleek sense of high-tech sophistication to the world's No. 1 carmaker. Toyoda, 59, strives "to build more exciting vehicles with appliance-like quality, rather than appliance-like styling and ambiance," says industry analyst George Peterson. With recalls over acceleration and air bags behind him, "Toyoda can concentrate on molding the company into an even more formidable competitor. Toyota will be hard to stop with its resources and aggressive attitude."

18. Jean-Paul Agon
CEO, chairman, L'Oréal
Revenue:
$29.9 billion
Employees: 78,600

Agon, 58, has taken the broad view in his four years at the helm, typified by the brand's inclusive "Beauty for All" positioning. Recent expansion includes the acquisitions of NYX, Carol's Daughter, Magic Holdings and Niely Cosmeticos, and the completion of deals for Decléor and Carita. In the digital realm, 2014 saw the successful launch of Makeup Genius, an app that lets customers "try on" cosmetics via facial-mapping technology.

19. Muhtar Kent
CEO, chairman, Coca-Cola Co.
Revenue:
$46 billion
Employees: 129,200

Is everybody happy? Not Kent, apparently. As concerns about the obesity epidemic rage, the beverage behmoth's fortunes have gone flat. Kent, 63, responded decisively by naming a new marketing chief, Marcos de Quinto, and launching a revamped theme, "Choose Happiness," in Europe, positioning the iconic Coke brand as essential to enjoying the human condition to its fullest. Still, analysts question whether advertising will be able to solve the company's problems and restore a smile to Kent's face. (Pop culture note: Coke scored the ultimate plug in the series finale of AMC's Mad Men.)

20. Mark Parker
CEO, president, Nike
Revenue:
$27.8 billion
Employees: 56,500

Parker, 59, joined the Nike rank and file back in 1979 as a shoe designer and worked his way up—all the way up—meaning he has a deep-rooted and personal stake in maintaining the brand's position as the world's leader in athletic apparel and accessories. "Parker's relentless focus on protecting the Nike brand while driving the best innovation team in the business are the keys to his success," says NPD Group analyst Matt Powell. "Nike will maintain its supremacy for years to come."

21. Lowell McAdam
CEO, chairman, Verizon
Revenue:
$127.1 billion
Employees: 177,300

Verizon just committed a whopping $4.4 billion toward the acquisition of AOL, explaining it "supports our strategy to provide a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers." McAdam, 60, rose through the mobile ranks, and is focused on cutting the cord to generate growth in wireless, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of the company's revenue. After losing a bruising net-neutrality battle, the executive agreed to sell $10.5 billion in wired assets to Frontier, noting that the FCC's plan to regulate the Internet drove his decision.

22. Mary Barra
CEO, General Motors
Revenue:
$155.9 billion
Employees: 216,000

Barra, 53, faced a tough road in her first year at the helm of the world's No. 2 automaker, testifying several times before Congress about a deadly ignition-switch problem that led to one of several recalls. Though some were critical of how the first female chief executive at a major auto company handled the heat, others praised her performance. "It's our responsibility. Overall, we are dramatically enhancing our approach to safety," she has said.

23. Grant Reid
Global president, Mars
Revenue:
$33 billion (est.)
Employees: 75,000 (est.)

Reid took over from Paul Michaels, who retired as 2015 began, after running the candy giant's global chocolate business, where he was credited with driving growth and nurturing the company's Sustainable Cocoa initiative. He recently voiced support for government recommendations that consumers restrict their sugar intake to 10 percent of daily calories and backed an FDA proposal to detail sugar content on food labels—savvy moves given the outcry over obesity and the trend toward healthier eating.

24. Randall Stephenson
CEO, chairman, AT&T
Revenue:
$132.5 billion
Employees: 250,000

Stephenson's $48.5 billion bid to snap up DirecTV got a boost in recent weeks after a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling cleared the way for the Federal Communications Commission to review the proposal. Stephenson, 55, foresees AT&T significantly increasing its pay-TV market share and strengthening its position in Latin America if the buyout goes through. And observers do expect it to get approved, though in the wake of the failed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, the picture is less certain.

25. Alex Gorsky
CEO, chairman, Johnson & Johnson
Revenue:
$74.3 billion
Employees: 126,500

Gorsky's prescription for compassion generated headlines and goodwill twice so far this month. First, the pharmaceutical and CPG giant said it would seek advice from independent bio-ethicists at New York University's School of Medicine about saying yes or no when dying patients who are not in clinical trials seek access to experimental medicines. Then, Gorsky, 55, also announced the company would offer employees up to 17 paid weeks of paternity leave. With brands ranging from Listerine to Neutrogena, Tylenol to Band-Aid, it's hard to imagine a company with closer ties to the American household.

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