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The Young Influentials

Adweek picks 20 under 40 who are wicked smart and rebooting your world

Illustrations: Ryan Inzana

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In the domains of media, marketing and technology, to be merely young and successful isn’t so remarkable. But to be influential—seriously influential—is something else altogether: to imagine the truly new and different, to impel real change in the way business has been done before, to lead the way and to inspire others to follow. Those are a few attributes that define and set apart these individuals, the Young Influentials, as determined by Adweek’s editors: individuals who have achieved not only a standing in the industry—in most cases, a standing far beyond their years—but who also constitute the very vanguard of innovation in media, technology, brand leadership and creative work. If you haven’t heard of them already, you will.

Jeff Benjamin
North America
Chief Creative Officer, JWT

A true creative revolutionary, the 37-year-old Connecticut native (and huge karaoke fan) first got a taste for persuasion while on his college debate team. Then, a tough boss at Modem Media taught him the value of mastering his craft. Formerly with Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Benjamin’s work has been recognized with every major advertising award, including the Grand Prix at Cannes.


Anthony De Rosa
Social Media Editor
Reuters

One might not think “social media trendsetter” when one thinks of Reuters. But because of the widely followed, highly respected De Rosa, 36, Reuters has, in fact, become a model for how traditional media can harness social. De Rosa also hosts Reuters TV’s innovative program Tech Tonic. Meanwhile, in his role as columnist, he doesn’t shy away from expressing opinions or exhibiting his personality, injecting some color into the buttoned-up news org.


Brandon Berger
Global Chief Digital Officer
Ogilvy & Mather

Berger, 37, is at the center of the Ogilvy machine, reporting directly to global CEO Miles Young and key in the recent launch of the Social@Ogilvy. He also helped build the agency’s first digital innovation group. One is apt to find Berger scoping out potential acquisitions in Argentina, schmoozing with VCs or overseeing digital work for clients such as Kimberly-Clark. “I also have two little kids and a golden retriever, so I don’t sleep much,” he says


Ethan Goodman
Director, Digital Strategy
Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide

The 28-year-old, who grew up wanting to be either a sports broadcaster or sports agent, ended up in the marketing big leagues as one of the youngest directors of a business practice at the agency. Goodman is part of the team building Procter & Gamble’s digital and e-commerce business, significantly growing digital revenue and winning major e-commerce assignments from the packaged-goods giant.


Noah Kerner
Co-founder, CEO and CCO
Noise
By the time he was 30, Kerner had been a serial entrepreneur, an author and a DJ for Jennifer Lopez. Now 35, he heads up the shop he co-founded, Noise, which was acquired by Martin Puris-led Engine USA in December 2010 and specializes in influencing young people and helping clients including Intel and Trident reach the 18-34 demo with campaigns that blend technology, culture and business savvy.


Jason DeLand
Founding Partner
Anomaly

The 36-year-old son of a roofer and a hair stylist has a working-class ethic, but also thrives on competition. As center fielder on the Ithaca College baseball team, he twice led his division in batting average, and in his first advertising job, at TBWAChiatDay, he was central to a string of wins under then-boss Carl Johnson (becoming new business chief at age 22). The two reunited in 2004 to launch Anomaly. Today, DeLand manages Budweiser, the New York office’s biggest account.


Joe Fernandez
Co-founder and CEO
Klout

The 33-year-old doesn’t just wield influence—he’s trying to make an entire economy out of it. With Klout, the startup he co-founded in 2008 and which dubs itself “The Standard for Influence,” he created a method for measuring social media influence and ranking consumers’ online reputations. Over the past year, Klout has worked with companies including Gilt Groupe and brands such as Audi to turn what Fernandez terms “social credit scores” into assorted perks and discounts.


Lauren Connolly
SVP, Creative Director
BBDO

Much like the namesake heroine of “Ms. Brown,” the much-buzzed-about M&Ms spot from this year’s Super Bowl, the commercial’s co-creator Connolly, 36, is coming into her own after nine years at BBDO. Before the M&Ms spot went on to top YouTube’s 2012 Super Bowl AdBlitz, she helped launch the Cingular mobile brand with the “Raising of the Bar” campaign, which was later used for AT&T. At the agency, Connolly also oversees TotalWork, focused on integrated content.


Maile Carpenter
Editor in Chief
Food Network Magazine

Not only is the Hearst title the most sizzling food magazine around (making Adweek’s Hot List this past fall), but it is also one of the most successful magazine startups period. Much credit goes to Carpenter, 38, lured from Every Day With Rachael Ray to be launch editor. The mag more than tripled its circ guarantee to 1.4 million since its debut in 2009. Food Network is such a smash that Hearst is applying the model to another network-based launch, HGTV Magazine.


Clara Shih
Co-founder and CEO
Hearsay Social

Shih, 29, has been called the most influential thought leader in social marketing on the vendor side. After being named to the Starbucks board last December, the Stanford grad—whose resume also includes stints at Google, Microsoft and Salesforce—stands to play a major role in the coffee chain’s future. Expect Shih, the author of the best-seller The Facebook Era, to keep the company tuned into all the latest trends—and what its customers want.


Jimmy Soni
Managing Editor
The Huffington Post

With one of the top news jobs in Arianna’s empire, his influence is undeniable—and not without controversy. In January, when the site tapped its 26-year-old chief of staff as m.e., his lack of professional journalism experience raised eyebrows. Still, the 2007 Duke grad’s resume is more impressive than many twice his age, including gigs at McKinsey and the D.C. mayor’s office, while his first book, a bio of ancient Roman pol Cato the Younger, is due this year.


Richard Stainer
Managing Director
Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Stainer, who grew up near Belfast, told his mom at the age of 5 that he planned to attend Cambridge. He would go on to do just that, earning a degree in modern and medieval languages. In advertising, the triathlete, now 37, learned to lead with authority and integrity from bosses like Chris Powell and Nigel Bogle. Today, he leads a 182-person office and steers BBH’s global Google account, the shop’s second largest after Unilever.


Juliana Stock
Senior Director, Marketing and Product Development
Condé Nast

Stock, 36, oversees Condé Nast’s new-business incubator, responsible for nurturing digital enterprises, and has been quietly changing the way people think about the consummate purveyor of print. Products include Idea Flight, an app that lets people share presentations on the iPad, and Santa’s Hideout, a digital, shareable version of a kid’s wish list. She also spearheaded the gaming app Gourmet Live.


Jason Sutterfield
Chief Operating Officer
Campfire

It didn’t take long for Sutterfield, 32, to make his way to the C-suite. In 2011, only a year after joining digital agency Campfire, he was promoted from head of production to COO. In the role, he oversees functions including human resources, infrastructure and production. Notably, he has led some of the agency’s most successful campaigns, including the elaborate multimedia strategy to promote HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones.


Britton Taylor
Group Planning Director
Wieden + Kennedy

Taylor, 36, the strategist behind the wildly popular “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign for Old Spice, is now taking the brand’s North American success global. The native Tennessean, who joined Wieden in 2006 to head strategic planning for Starbucks, got into advertising after a disastrous stint as a seventh-grade teacher. He would go on to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners before helping make the Old Spice campaign an instant classic.


Leah LaPlaca
VP, Programming and Acquisitions
ESPN

After a decade at ESPN, LaPlaca, 39, manages what may well be the media empire’s most valuable asset: the NFL account. She was instrumental in locking in the $1.9 billion-per-year extension ensuring that Monday Night Football remains on ESPN through 2021. LaPlaca steers all NFL-related programming, plus digital and authentication rights. She also pulls the strings on ESPN’s $485 million-per-season NBA investment.


Ben Lerer
Co-founder and CEO
Thrillist

In short, the 29-year-old Lerer gets guys to open their emails. Since co-founding Thrillist in 2005, the guy-centric site has attracted more than 3 million subscribers to its daily email. Lerer has seen his profile rise along with the site’s revenue, which he projects will hit $100 million in the next year. Lerer is busy building out Thrillist’s e-commerce capabilities (deals platform Thrillist Rewards was launched in January of last year) and preparing for a possible IPO.


Bill McGoldrick
SVP, Original Scripted Programming
USA Network

McGoldrick, 38, was instrumental in several of USA’s top series (Monk, Psych, Fairly Legal), boosting the market value not only of his own net’s product but also cable originals overall. In 2005, he left NBCUniversal, where he also oversaw Syfy’s series, for Spike TV. But USA, where he first went to work as an exec assistant in 1998, lured him back—”something we’ve been trying to do ever since he left,” says his boss, USA co-president Jeff Wachtel.


Jonah Peretti
Founder
BuzzFeed

For those seeking to understand the anatomy of a viral hit, Peretti is their man. The 38-year-old entrepreneur has spent much of his career monitoring online social behavior and creating the most buzzed-about Web content. He co-founded The Huffington Post before going on to launch BuzzFeed. Lately, Peretti has been busy signing up big-name journalists to work at BuzzFeed in a mission to transform the meme-centric site into a next-generation news authority.


Timothy Shey
Director
YouTube Next Lab

Digital video is old hat for Timothy Shey. The 37-year-old’s first company, Proteus, virtually invented the second-screen concept in 2002 when it created a mobile polling platform for Super Bowl XXXVI. In 2007, he co-founded online video production company Next New Networks, which Google acquired last year. Now, as director of the YouTube Next Lab, he’s leading the charge to develop premium (read: monetizable) video content online.