10 Young Talents Who Are Defining the Next Generation of Marketing

Meet Adweek's Young Influentials

Whether they’re building Manhattan’s buzziest women’s-only club or helping brands reach the next generation of influencers, these Young Influentials are paving the way in the marketing arena. For more up-and-coming talent in tech, media and entertainment, check out our full list.
—Emma Bazilian

Samantha Levine Archer
Director, client technology and solutions, Hearts & Science 

Photo: Kristina Varaksina

Samantha Levine Archer dove deep into data during her four years at Annalect, the nerve center of a sprawling Omnicom operation that birthed the industry’s hottest new media network, Hearts & Science.

“When I explain what I do to my parents, I say, essentially, problem solving,” says Archer, 29. “It’s like cheerleading and being a boss at the same time.”

When Hearts & Science officially launched after winning P&G’s 2015 media review, Archer became director of client technology and solutions, an ambitious new role that requires her to oversee the agency’s Agile practice.

During the March brand safety freakout that led major advertisers to pull their ads from YouTube, she led a “Special Forces” unit that used guerrilla tactics to solve clients’ problems with near-surgical precision by running “dark” tests and wading through thousands of hours of offensive content.

As clients’ transparency demands grow, Hearts & Sciences aims to stay ahead of the game. Archer describes the agency as “a special starfish growing into a larger octopus” driven by “dramatic changes in what a traditional media planner and buyer can do.” —Patrick Coffee

Bennett D. Bennett
Copywriter, BBDO

BBDO New York copywriter Bennett D. Bennett compares himself to a utility player in baseball, citing his versatility as a key strength. That versatility extends far beyond advertising: Bennett started college as a physics major, has an extensive fiction background and experience as a voiceover artist.

Bennett, 27, landed at BBDO in 2015, scoring a spot as the inaugural hire in the agency’s creative residency program after giving a speech at the AdColor Awards & Industry Conference. He continues to be involved with AdColor, as well as the AAF’s Mosaic Council, the 4A’s and The 3% Conference.

While Bennett thinks the industry is making some progress with diversity, he says, “I just don’t think progress is as quick and as impactful as it should be.” He adds, “There’s a large pipeline of diverse talent coming in, but not being included enough in conversations at agencies,” which means that much of that talent leaves for other industries before reaching senior-level positions. Bennett, who is currently working on campaigns for Macy’s and SAP, aims to eventually launch his own agency. “My goal is not just to expand as a writer, but to put that into practice through long-form story content, build brands from the ground up from a branding and identity perspective,” he says. —E.O.

Sarah Crockett
Divisional vp, integrated marketing and community engagement, REI 

Courtesy of REI

From a young age, Sarah Crockett loved REI. As a child, she would visit the Seattle-based company’s co-op with her father, always leaving with a pack of freeze-dried “astronaut” ice cream. Now, at 34, she’s living her dream as an employee.

In her role as divisional vp, integrated marketing and community engagement, Crockett oversees a team of 50 people focused on integrated content, local marketing, paid media, events and social. Their goal? To spread the message that a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Some of her biggest accomplishments since joining the brand include supporting the award-winning “#OptOutside” work as well as “Force of Nature,” a campaign championing women who love the outdoors, and REI Outessa, a female-driven event platform that includes a three-day retreat where women can participate in various activities, bond with one another and focus on personal growth.

Says Crockett, “We just put a stake down saying we wanted the outdoors to be the largest level playing field from a gender-equity standpoint.” —Katie Richards

Olivia Mannix
Founder and CEO, Cannabrand

In November 2012, Olivia Mannix, a freshly minted graduate of the University of Colorado, was just starting her communications career when Amendment 64 passed, making Colorado the first state to legalize marijuana. Supporters of the bill saw victory, but Mannix saw the future. Together with her business partner Jennifer DeFalco, Mannix started Cannabrand—the country’s first PR and marketing firm dedicated solely to marijuana products. “We ran with the vision,” as she puts it.

Today, 29 states have legalization laws on the books, and an industry that didn’t exist four years ago notched sales of $7 billion last year. Mannix, 28, has been the voice of that industry, deftly navigating the still-treacherous regulatory waters to craft the brand images and marketing messages for more than 100 companies.

“There are so many who believe cannabis is this horrible drug,” she says. “We’ve focused on education, informing people of the benefits of cannabis, and that it’s not a stoner product.”
—Robert Klara

Kurt Mills 
Associate creative director, Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Photo: Quinn Gravier

“Advertising has the opportunity to play a bigger role these days,” says Goodby Silverstein’s Kurt Mills, 39, who has proven that marketing can not only motivate people to participate in a campaign but inspire them to higher civic purposes.

Mills’ best-known work of 2017 was the Cheetos Museum, a compendium of cheese twists that bore uncanny resemblances to everything from a girl on rollerblades to Abraham Lincoln—all submitted by customers. He also hooked up with hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd to build a smartphone-activated music video that grew larger with each new participant.

But it was Mills’ work with Rock the Vote that highlighted advertising’s role in the democratic process. His Election FM streaming radio network featured tunes that could only be heard at polling places, while Doritos’ “No Choice” campaign stuffed bags full of cardboard chips labeled “No Taste, No Crunch, No Choice”—a startling metaphor that reminded Americans of the importance of voting, brought to them by Mills, a Canadian. “The irony isn’t lost on me,” he says. —R.K.

Zach Newcomb
Managing director, North America Marketing Offering, Accenture Interactive 

It was a passion for film that eventually led Zach Newcomb to a top role at the world’s largest digital marketing network. “I love storytelling and had grand visions of being a documentary filmmaker,” explains Newcomb, 35. “But it quickly dawned on me, eating ramen four nights a week in New York, that it’s a tough way to make a living.”

After working in production and strategy at HBO, Google, The New York Times and R/GA, the Columbia Business School graduate landed a top role at Accenture Interactive.

“Creativity is more important than it’s ever been, but that’s no longer just two guys drinking scotch and coming up with an idea,” he says. “[At Accenture], we have to fundamentally change how a business helps customers and delivers value.”

Newcomb, who played a key role in Accenture’s recent acquisition of design practice Wire Stone, thinks the organization will only continue to grow. “Lots of clients say, ‘You built the infrastructure, now help us bring it to life,’” he says. “That’s the next evolutionary step for us.”

Kate Santore
Senior integrated marketing content manager, The Coca-Cola Company 

Photo: Marc Andrew Stephens

When Kate Santore moved to Atlanta after her husband took a job at a local hospital, deciding where she wanted to work—Coca-Cola—was easy. Actually landing the dream job took a bit more effort.

“I networked my way inside and outside,” says Santore, 33. “They weren’t hiring and I finally just started emailing VPs, literally Googling their email addresses.” Eventually, she scored a meeting with the company, and was hired to work on digital brand strategy. Today, she serves as senior integrated marketing content manager, working with her team on projects like Coca-Cola’s popular “Share a Coke” campaign.

One of the biggest challenges Santore faces is taking a 130-year-old product and finding new ways to “drive reconsideration and brand love and consumption, but without any new news to rely on,” she says. “I’ve got no new feature, no new camera [to promote], so it’s really all
about our storytelling.” —K.R.

Kate Trumbull
Director of digital marketing, Domino’s

Trawling her social media channels a year or so ago, Kate Trumbull noticed something unusual: people who’d attended wedding receptions told stories of the caterers running out of food. That gave Trumbull, Domino’s director of digital marketing, an idea: why not simply have the receptions (or, for that matter, the bachelor parties or even the honeymoons) catered by Domino’s? This was the genesis of the Domino’s online wedding registry—which might seem like an oddball idea, until you consider that it’s Trumbull’s mission to bring pizza to every occasion in life.

To that end, “we’ve been pushing toward thinking and acting like an ecommerce company,” says Trumbull, 35, who was also the force behind enriching Domino’s popular Pizza Tracker app with IFTTT, which uses web-enabled devices to announce an imminent pizza delivery. Trumbull also arranged this summer’s free streaming of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off via Facebook Live. “There are some people who just love pizza,” Trumbull says, and she’s pledged to find digital routes to bringing Domino’s to their doors. —R.K.

Jill Frank 
Executive producer and head of content production, Epsilon Agency 

Photo: Marc Sloboda

Before landing in the agency world, Jill Frank spent nearly a decade working with the Queen of All Media, Oprah Winfrey.

“I do kind of feel like a bit of an outsider in the ad industry, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all,” says Frank, 35, who connected with Epsilon chief creative officer and Chicago agency veteran John Immesoete while looking for new opportunities after 10 years at Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. “I feel like we are in the midst of a huge sea change, and Epsilon is on the forefront,” she notes. “I wanted to be a part of it.”

Frank now produces a wide variety of content for Epsilon clients ranging from Del Monte to the San Diego Zoo, and also serves on Epsilon’s internal diversity and inclusion panel. “After working for an African-American female who owned what is perhaps one of the world’s most successful production companies,” she says, “my standard is pretty high for what this industry can be.” —P.C.

Audrey Gelman
Co-founder and CEO, The Wing 

Photo: Katie McCurdy

You might recognize Audrey Gelman from her previous career in political communications (for Hillary Clinton, Scott Stringer and at the firm SKDKnickerbocker), from her appearance on HBO’s Girls (a longtime friend of Lena Dunham’s, she was the inspiration for Marnie) or maybe from last year’s Vogue feature on her wedding to Genius co-founder and president Ilan Zechory. But if you’ve seen Gelman’s name in the past year, it was likely in connection to her newest venture, The Wing.

Gelman, 30, and her partner Laura Kassan launched the female-only social club in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood last October. The pair was “inspired by the women’s club movement of the late 19th century and decided to resurrect that,” Gelman explains, adding that she views the space as a place for women to thrive when the odds seem stacked against them.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 9, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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