For these movers and shakers, the future arrives every day, as they traverse the fast-morphing business landscape to deliver more customers, increase revenue, improve the user experience—and make their CEO bosses look good. Welcome to the Adweek 50, our annual celebration of the most indispensable executives across marketing, media and technology. Two themes define this year’s list: transformation and automation. Harnessing the power of bots, machine learning, big data and advanced algorithms drives the entire ecosystem forward with the promise of greater speed, efficiency and profits. These pioneers are leading the charge, using cutting-edge tech guided by hard-won insights to blaze new trails for the rest of the industry to follow.
“If people aren’t having fun with what they’re doing, they likely aren’t going to do it very well,” says Ankeney, who’s served as president of Havas Media’s domestic ops for the past two years. “So, I try to inject some spontaneous fun into all that we do. Culture is critical and if you don’t get that right, it doesn’t really matter what else you’ve got.” In recent months, Ankeney’s ushered plenty of fun through the agency’s door in the form of huge assignments from Sanofi, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Michelin. That performance follows a banner 2016, when Havas was honored as Adweek’s U.S. Media Agency of the Year.
For Borges, the future is now, as his team toils tirelessly to perfect ad systems across the Fox Networks Group, expanding the frontiers of brand messaging in a streaming, VOD world. “Advertising continues to get more personal, more engaging and more thought provoking than ever as we collectively fight for the time and attention of consumers,” says Borges. “The way we harness the power of technology and innovation to drive these changes will impact the industry for the next decade. That’s the shit that keeps me motivated!” Case in point: the recent rollout of Up//Lift, a brand-lift optimization system fusing sentiment data with machine-learning algorithms.
Folks like Daugherty keep WPP’s Martin Sorrell awake at night. The holding company chief recently bemoaned the fact that tech giants and consultancies like Accenture—with their deep client relationships, global reach and digital prowess—continue making inroads into marketing and media. For three decades, Daugherty has been a prime architect of such transformation and expansion. Along with founding Accenture’s cloud computing business, he helped launch its Big Data, Open Source and SaaS operations, and plays a key role in shaping AI, AR and VR strategies. “What will really define success in this era is a truly human approach,” he says, “focusing on how people and machines come together to achieve new possibilities.”
Pamela Drucker Mann
After doubling revenue at Condé Nast’s Food Innovation Group in her five years at the helm, Drucker Mann was tasked with finding a winning recipe company-wide to broaden the publisher’s appeal to a new generation of audience and advertisers. Twice promoted in recent months, she now serves as the media giant’s first female CMO and CRO, responsible for marketing across 22 brands and divisions. Notably, she led the high-profile “Next Gen” campaign in 2017. That push focused on emerging editorial luminaries like Elaine Welteroth and Phillip Picardi at the red-hot, uber-relevant Teen Vogue, along with rising stars at properties ranging from Allure to GQ Style and Wired.
To hype the return of men’s pro basketball this fall, El launched a series of ads under the anthemic “This is why we play” tagline, dubbed “I’m Why,” showing emotional fan and player highlights from last season, when the NBA Finals and championship games scored their best TV ratings in nearly 20 years. A professed data geek, El continues to hone her digital-dominant strategy, personalizing fan engagement and experiences with the goal of boosting numbers beyond the stratospheric 1 billion people who watched NBA games last season. (There are 1.4 billion social media followers). For the WNBA, a multiyear deal to livestream games on Twitter will help the tech-devoted El spread the female league’s “Watch me work” message around the world.
Carolyn Everson; Alvin Bowles
So, you’re a family-friendly brand, and the mobile campaign that took four agencies, six months and seven figures to create just ran next to some soft-core porn and profanity-laced alt-right screeds. That’s every CMO’s nightmare, but on Facebook’s Instant Articles and Audience Network, Everson’s got you covered, implementing controls including placement and category opt-outs. “We have made a lot of progress over the last 12 months, and we’ll continue to work with our advertising partners to understand their needs and build a more brand-safe digital advertising ecosystem,” she says. Moving forward, such improvements—plus her ongoing efforts across Facebook and Instagram to fine-tune third-party measurement and drive better business results—will have a huge impact on the entire interactive ecosystem. On the publishing and operations side, Bowles is tasked with growing publisher relationships and improving transparency, measurement and ROI across the network. Toward that end, Facebook began testing header bidding with the Daily Mail, Forbes and others to create a streamlined and supple system for programmatic ad buying. (Publishers could see revenue spikes of up to 30 percent through this process, Facebook says.) Other initiatives include category blocking in order to prevent ads from appearing near potentially inflammatory content. “My main focus is to make sure we build a business that is committed to quality and run with integrity,” he says. “Too often, we see networks that compromise those values in favor of short-term monetary gains, which does not create a better consumer experience or generate results for the publisher or advertiser.”
Ferro, who had led Disney Channel sales since 2010, was promoted in February to oversee ad sales for Disney-ABC’s entire entertainment, news and kids portfolio—which was merged for the first time—as well as the new Disney Digital Network. She got right to work in the company’s first combined upfront, landing CPM increases in the high single digits across all ABC dayparts and the cable portfolio. Next up, she’s working to maximize revenue for ABC’s breakout fall hit, The Good Doctor, as well as the highly anticipated return of American Idol, which will make its ABC debut on March 11.
It’s no secret that WPP’s David agency has been on fire in recent years, crafting lauded and innovative campaigns such as “Pass the Heinz,” “Google ‘Home of the Whopper,’” and, of course, Burger King’s “Burning Stores.” While the creative team gets most of the glory, and deservedly so, Fogaca’s role, which he assumed in 2014, is pivotal. The executive cultivates and nurtures global client relationships and lures talent from around the world to make David’s success a reality. “I feel like we’ve become the agency where people want to go to in order to get the opportunity to do great work,” he says.
With more than two decades of experience in ad tech and mar tech, this computer scientist’s career stretches back to the dawn of online commerce, and includes posts at Oracle, HP and EMC. Seeking to tap into his deep experience with CRM and big-data analytics and passion for AI, marketing automation software giant Marketo hired Goyal in May to lead its engineering and product management groups. He’s already had a significant impact, helping launch Marketo Content, the company’s AI product, and playing a role in the firm’s selection of Google Cloud to support future growth as it focuses on simplifying life for advertisers across the enterprise.
Watch out, consultancies: Bloomberg revenue chief Keith Grossman has you in his sights. In August, a year after advancing to CRO from head of U.S. sales, Grossman helped launch a practice that taps into Bloomberg’s vast trove of data and resources to offer business consulting services under newly hired global chief commercial officer Andrew Benett, a longtime Havas executive. That move expands the media company’s footprint and opens fresh revenue streams in a brutally competitive environment. On the streaming front, his team secured sponsors such as Goldman Sachs, Infiniti and TD Ameritrade for the debut of a 24/7 live news network on Twitter.
All told, he’s built a nine-figure ad business at the Jeff Bezos-owned media company in less than three years. Key initiatives include launching a brand studio, as well as an ad-tech division called Red. Both are hailed as leading-edge operations that give WaPo a shot at generating glowing financial headlines of its own for years to come. “I am most proud of the efforts the team has made to improve the user experience in advertising,” Hartman says. “We have created more than a dozen ad-tech products and even have a patent. All are laser focused on being incredibly respectful of our audience while bringing value to our marketing partners. These efforts are helping to lead the entire ecosystem towards improvement.”
John Hancock/Manulife’s selection of Deloitte Digital as its global creative lead this summer—ending the Hancock brand’s three-decade relationship with Hill Holliday—signaled just how far consultancies have come at making inroads into territory long held by traditional agencies. It’s one of the defining trends in the industry today, reshaping the media and marketing ecosystem for years to come. “We’re making creativity more important than ever by tying it more closely to the heart of the business strategy and industry insights,” says Hatch. “We’re enabling modern CMOs to deliver top-line growth through data-driven creative at scale.” Indeed, canny acquisitions—Acne, Heat, Market Gravity and Web Decisions among them—and partnerships with Apple and Facebook give her group significant tools to help clients grow across all aspects of the enterprise.
Breaking2 was no ordinary stunt—it was Nike’s “moonshot” attempt to train, support and film the world’s best runners trying to bust the two-hour marathon mark. It also was a tech-advanced product launch, a National Geographic documentary, an ad campaign and an inspiration for pro and amateur athletes. It’s a Hoffman specialty, along with heart-tugging, memorable spots (from Wieden + Kennedy) congratulating winners (Roger Federer for his eighth Wimbledon title, the Houston Astros for their first World Series) and saluting beloved retirees (the NBA’s Kobe Bryant). Hoffman’s latest: branded jerseys for all 30 NBA teams (chip-embedded versions for fans) and an AR-enabled app, a new way to drop coveted, limited-time sneaks.
From the time she arrived at the vaunted sports league three years ago, Hudson has faced one controversy after another, from Deflategate and domestic violence issues to ratings declines and current player protests. She’s answered with marketing campaigns that focus on the field rather than the sidelines, with this season’s fan-centric “Random Acts of Kickoff” experiences, and on messages of unity, re-airing the 60-second Super Bowl spot dubbed “Inside These lines,” after President Donald Trump criticized NFL stars. Looking for the broadest audience (NFL remains the country’s most popular spectator sport) and skirting politics, the Pepsi-Cola veteran has become an offensive and defensive expert, saying a few months into her gig, “It’s easier to drive change when things are in flux than when things are going well.”
A 20-year GS&P veteran, Johnson, already one of the industry’s leading creative lights, blazed especially bright in August 2016, when she was named the first female creative chief at the legendary shop. Switched-on campaigns such as big Cannes winner “The Cheetos Museum”—an online repository for cheesy snack crisps that resembled familiar people and objects—and Tostitos’ “Party Safe Bag,” which gauged sobriety, fused creative innovation and cutting-edge tech. Such high-profile work across PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay portfolio helped GS&P snag the company’s beverage division in September following a review. Liberty Mutual came aboard a few weeks later.
Elevated to strategy chief at the end of 2016, Kantrowitz believes that Horizon’s future prospects are, quite literally, Limitless. That’s the name of an internal initiative she spearheaded at the indie media shop, designed to inspire the next generation of leadership, with a focus on empowering female employees. Look for a Limitless industry-wide rollout next year. Elsewhere, she helped reorganize Horizon’s data and analytics practice, yielding a more efficient, performance-driven approach. “We focus on the use of data to drive meaningful connections, positive results and accommodate fast-changing campaign strategies,” she says. Of late, such moves have generated connections with clients like Sprint, which tapped Horizon for its $700 million business in May.
A Facebook alum, Kendall joined Pinterest in 2012 as product chief, ultimately leading the company’s growth team and helping to launch the Promoted Pin, its first and best-known ad unit. As president for the past three years, he’s focused on long-term monetization through bringing aboard notable ad partners like Chase, Target, Toyota, Universal Pictures and Walgreens. “Advertisers consistently tell us that they are looking for new ways to influence consumers early in their decision-making journey,” Kendall says. “Since people are planning early on Pinterest, and often haven’t made a brand choice yet, our platform is a unique and optimal place for businesses to reach new customers.”
Snap! With the March IPO in the rearview mirror, and Wall Street less than enamored of the company’s performance so far, Khan has transitioned from leading strategies at a plucky social startup to forging a long-term growth path for a fast-maturing digital brand. Toward that end, he’s bolstered measuring, targeting and self-service for Snap’s ad offering, most notably through initiatives such as Snap to Store and Snap Ad Manager. His team was also instrumental in bringing aboard key partners like Time Warner, which inked a $100 million pact in June to create shows for the platform, and NBCUniversal, which announced a deal with Snap for a scripted content play led by the Duplass Brothers.
These days, plenty of folks recognize the MailChimp name—even when it’s mispronounced “MailShrimp,” “FailChips” or “VeilHymn” in the company’s entertaining ads from Droga5. “I think the best piece of advice for someone looking to market a young brand is this: be different—not just different for its own sake, but different in a way that’s distinctly personal and aims to connect with real people,” says Klein. Seeking to expand sales connections for MailChimp clients, Klein’s working hard to help the company evolve from a pure email player into a diversified digital marketing platform offering three major channels—Facebook, Instagram and Google—as well as free, state-of-the art automation services for all customers.
At Spotify, Lee’s been pumping up the volume on people-based marketing to help the music streaming service leverage its connection to global culture and attract more advertising dollars. Topping her playlist is “Understanding People Through Music,” a much-praised, multifaceted global push that ties the listening habits of Spotify’s 140 million users (more than a third of whom are paid subscribers) to brand sentiments and purchasing behaviors. The company’s advertising revenue situation has been upbeat, with a gain of more than 50 percent year over year for 2016, despite some sour notes as Spotify’s overall loss more than doubled.
Part of an influential group of CMOs working to reform the problem-plagued digital media system, the 19-year company veteran directed an in-house project that manually vetted 400,000 websites where Chase ads had been running. (Most weren’t legit). In addition to carrying that mantle, Lemkau has focused on creating compelling (not “sponsored”) content with partners like Ozy for a co-branded newsletter, Group Nine for a social video series called NowThis Money, and LeBron James and Maverick Carter for Kneading Dough, where superstar athletes that also include Serena Williams and Draymond Green discuss their personal finance experiences. It’s not content “for its own sake,” she says, but “the type that drives business outcomes, not just clicks or views. And it delivers on our brand promise to help people make the most of their money, not just sell product.”
These days, Instagram means business, with Levine hyper-focused on connecting consumers with commerce across the Facebook-owned image- and video-sharing network. “Our goal is to give our community more ways to share their stories with the world, and bring them closer to the people and businesses that matter the most to them,” she says. Levine has grown the platform’s business community to more than 15 million through diverse initiatives such as shopping and branded content, and the recent rollout of the full-screen mobile Ads in Stories format. “Looking ahead, we’re focused on expanding beyond a place where you go to find a business, to becoming a place where business gets done,” she says.
Adobe’s long-term prospects look sunny thanks to a gathering of clouds. We’re speaking of cloud computing, of course, and Adobe’s all-in with the spring rollout of its Experience Cloud, a suite of services for managing ad spends across diverse channels and devices. Adobe teamed with Goodby Silverstein & Partners for cheeky ads touting the launch, including a memorable bank-robbery scenario where the tellers know seemingly everything about the masked perps, a metaphor illustrating Experience Cloud’s granularity and targeting prowess. “As the marketing landscape becomes increasingly dynamic with the explosion of new technologies, media formats and screens, don’t lose sight of the heart of marketing,” says Lewnes. “A great brand with purpose, combined with powerful storytelling, stunning creative and a vibrant, engaged base of customers, is your biggest asset in the long run.”
An ad-tech pioneer and industry thought leader with executive positions at AOL and Razorfish on his resume, Lord became Big Blue’s first digital chief in April 2016, as the company stepped up its efforts to develop a technology-based agency model designed to compete against the holding companies (and keep pace with consultancies like Accenture, Deloitte and PwC). Most recently, the “With IBM” initiative has transformed how developers engage with company products by providing millions of lines of free code, as well as training opportunities. What’s more, a partnership with Lightbend provides tools for developers to quickly and efficiently build and deploy advanced AI and cognitive applications.
This NYU literature major keeps Robert Frost’s maxim “the best way out is always through” in mind as he traverses the increasingly complex media landscape. “The industry is at a critical tipping point where traditional marketing practices have been turned on their head by a digital economy,” he says. “The best way to get out of this successfully is to go through it and embrace the ever-evolving marketplace wholeheartedly.” Delivering on that promise, Manas revved up Omnicom’s tech-based buying—with all search, social, programmatic and DRTV consolidated under the Resolution brand—and generated 30 percent year-over-year growth. Forging a data-driven, API-based buying capability with Snapchat should help the group and its clients drive even further through new territories.
Joe Marchese; Sean Moran; Donna Speciale
The ad sales chiefs from three of the biggest media companies joined forces this year to create and launch OpenAP, a standard audience-targeting platform for buyers that should ignite the industry’s data-based advertising efforts—as well as their respective bottom lines. Separately, they each made their share of big moves to warrant inclusion on this year’s list. Marchese, who was promoted to oversee Fox Networks Group just five days before Fox’s upfront event in May, immediately began unveiling a series of bold initiatives to shake up the industry, including bringing six-second ads to linear TV—a move that rival networks are already beginning to copy—and dropping standard ads from FX’s digital and VOD platforms. Speciale doubled down on her company’s audience-based and VOD offerings, securing double-digit upfront increases in both, as she also experimented with linear pod takeovers and expanded up the company’s social marketing deals with Launchpad, which went global last summer. And Moran helped Viacom turn the page on last year’s tumult by radically overhauling the company’s upfront approach, and scrapping most of its lavish presentations in favor of intimate dinners with agencies to spotlight Viacom’s new direction. For their efforts, all three chiefs walked away with single-digit CPM hikes in this year’s upfront.
It seems counterintuitive to de-emphasize the product, but Mathieu thinks the best way for Samsung to evolve its marketing is “not to talk about devices, but to talk about the people who use our devices,” he told Adweek recently. His approach has humanized the tech brand as it bounced back from 2016’s recall, breaking preorder records for its new Galaxy S8 and Note 8. The data-loving exec, a Unilever and Coca-Cola veteran, launched Samsung 837, a New York-based interactive playground for consumers and marketing lab for the brand, developed a creator’s platform to cultivate next-generation storytellers under the global “Do What You Can’t” mobile campaign, and forged partnerships for intellectual property with Vice and The New York Times.
Operations chief since 2015, Nam plays a vital role in Droga5’s current success (20 percent revenue growth this year) as she leads forward-looking efforts across data strategy, customer experience innovation, performance marketing, design, production and media planning. The goal: spur organic growth, so the shop doesn’t have to rely so heavily on new-biz roulette. Recently appointed to the Adcolor board of directors, Nam believes that empowered employees are the greatest resource of all. “It is crucial to our business, and our industry, that we invest in them, to move them from individual star performers to true leaders,” she says. “Equally important is creating a place to work where people of diverse backgrounds want to join us.”
CoverGirl has been “easy, breezy, beautiful” for decades, but it was time for a change, says Ojo, who this year led the most dramatic reinvention in the brand’s 60-year history. With an assist from new agency Droga5, the General Mills and Unilever alum launched “I Am What I Make Up,” a campaign that positions CoverGirl products as powerful tools for “self-expression, creation and transformation.” The work, including a diverse array of non-supermodel spokeswomen like chef and author Ayesha Curry, 69-year-old dietitian Maye Musk, motorcycle racer Shelina Moreda and HBO’s Insecure creator Issa Rae, means to counter “idealized perfection,” Ojo says, spark “a movement to elevate how the beauty category communicates” and “inspire people to embrace their unique identities.”
As digital media hit its 21st birthday this year, Pritchard saw little cause for celebration. Instead, he publicly pointed out its shortcomings (fraud, transparency and brand safety issues) and led a mini-revolution of deep-pocketed advertisers that insisted on change. (P&G’s ad purse alone tops $2.4 billion annually). “We will vote with our dollars and will not waste our money on a crappy media supply chain,” he said at the recent ANA Masters of Marketing Conference. Facebook, Google and others snapped to attention, causing “a sea change in the digital media ecosystem,” Pritchard said, with better safeguards, measurement and accountability set to be in place by year’s end. Alongside that effort, the influential exec also shook up P&G’s everyday advertising to address racial and gender inequality and to make culturally diverse images “the norm, not the exception.”
If you catch Rabuchin animatedly chatting with a chair, lightbulb or ottoman, don’t get concerned—he’s probably just engaging in a little R&D. “Our vision is that customers will be able to access Alexa whenever and wherever they want,” Rabuchin says of Amazon’s popular voice AI. “That means customers may be able to talk to their cars, refrigerators, thermostats, lamps and all kinds of devices in and outside their homes” to obtain information, engage in ecommerce or just turn out the lights before bed. Some 67 million voice-assisted devices should be in use domestically by 2019, a nearly 33 percent increase from today. With Alexa’s skill set at 25,000 (and growing), and its market share hovering around 70 percent, Amazon’s talking a pretty good game for the future.
Coining a term for the latest tech gizmos (he calls them “enablers”), Rajamannar is a pro at using what he’s dubbed “the toys and the trinkets, the shiny things.” That led him to alliances with Swarovski where consumers could, in virtual reality this fall, shop for and buy chandeliers, and with Marie Claire for a tricked-out pop-up store and mobile app. But Rajamannar never forgets that “understanding human emotion is not the same as data and analytics,” he told Adweek recently. That’s why he’s revamped Mastercard’s ubiquitous Priceless marketing campaign globally to focus on experiences, giving consumers a chance to create and share their journeys, illustrating his mantra: “Storytelling is dead, long live story making.”
Even though Google returned $11 billion in ad revenue to publishers last year, grousing continues on various fronts, with questions swirling around plans for the Chrome browser to block “annoying ads”—which some suspect will allow Big G to favor its own formats. Ramaswamy insists this simply isn’t so, and that Chrome will also stop substandard ads served by Google. “Our hope is, once this is in place, there’s no need for ad blocking on mobile,” Ramaswamy said at an event in October. “That’s the race we need to have in this industry because mobile is the future.” Google also recently strengthened its ties to Salesforce, coupling that firm’s CRM tools with Google Analytics and its G Suite of business-oriented apps.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Rodriguez joined other Univision staffers in Puerto Rico, offering what comfort they could and relieving team members who had worked around the clock for days. Such efforts echo her marketing strategy for the Hispanic media giant. One example: the award-winning “Tu Gente. Tu Voz” (“Your People. Your Voice”) campaign, stressing the bonds between Univison’s media teams and the viewers they serve across 126 local television and radio stations. “As we see the minority population become the new majority, our commitment as a mission-driven company has never been more critical than it is today,” she says. “I am proud that our teams continue to engage with campaigns that connect our community.”
Jo Ann Ross
In her 15th year heading up the CBS ad sales team—she’s the longest-tenured network ad sales chief—Ross once again met the high bar set by her boss, chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves. In the upfront, she delivered high single-digit CPM increases in prime time and low double-digit increases in morning, daytime and late-night (where CBS This Morning and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert are thriving), making some deals on the C35 metric, which includes commercials viewed as much as 35 days later. In August, she was promoted to president and chief advertising revenue officer, and now oversees the company’s integrated broadcast and digital teams as she focuses on multiplatform monetization.
A fan of quirky, eye-catching stunts, Saenz opened a Cheetos Museum (filled with orange-snack replicas of people, places and things) and a pop-up restaurant with Cheetos in every dish, called The Spotted Cheetah. (The joint was packed). But the innovation and strategy expert has tackled serious issues like drunken driving, women’s rights and voter registration, making sure each tactic “feels approachable,” she told Adweek recently. A tech-enabled Tostitos “Party Safe” bag for Super Bowl LI detected alcohol on revelers and gave Uber discounts, while Doritos encouraged participation in the 2016 election by handing out cardboard chips to college students who weren’t registered to vote. The faux food represented “no choice,” and according to Saenz, helped the brand “stay relevant in consumer conversation.”
As Netflix continues to take over the world—it now has 109 million global subscribers—Sarandos is fueling the streaming service’s growth with a murderers’ row of original series, specials and movies. This year, returning hits Stranger Things, Orange Is the New Black and Master of None were joined by new breakouts like 13 Reasons Why, American Vandal and Mindhunter, plus comedy specials with Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer. (He also quickly cut ties with House of Cards star Kevin Spacey in the wake of sexual abuse allegations made against the actor.) In September, Netflix won 20 Emmys, more than any other network except for HBO. And Sarandos will be making an even bigger bet next year, spending as much as $8 billion on content, far more than any other outlet.
“We’re leading the industry on how we use data to connect fans to content, how we maximize the impact of advertising, how we create value in our distribution partnerships and even how we work together with our competitors,” says Schireson, who was promoted to data chief at Viacom in March. Long a champion of leveraging data to extend the company’s reach and strengthen its grasp, he played a key role during this year’s rollout of OpenAP, the industry’s first open platform for cross-publisher audience targeting and measurement. Working with rivals Fox and Turner, the program aims to boost transparency across the ad-buying spectrum, with Accenture handling third-party auditing.
A champion of inclusion in the workplace, Scotti has gone beyond making sure his own ranks are diverse (59 percent women and people of color). He’s insisted that his agencies follow suit, mandating diverse hires and tracking companies’ progress. He’s overseen the launch of marketing boot camps, AdFellows internships and other recruiting programs to find and nurture new talent. Hiring Verizon’s first chief creative officer, Scotti built an inclusive in-house agency (50/50 white/nonwhite, 52/48 percent female/male) and brought on the first chief customer experience officer. Aiming to close the digital divide, he kicked off the #weneedmore campaign with LeBron James, Adriana Lima and other spokescelebs, encouraging kids to pursue math and science as prep for careers in tech.
It’s been a busy few years for Shutt, whose mission to “expand and diversify the creative class” informs her management style. She’s co-authored a “Mission Playbook” on the subject, and puts her theory into practice by hiring more female creative directors and leading the Los Angeles-based “Girl Squad” creative workshop series, giving women a vital forum for networking and support. “Innovation is at the heart of our industry and diversity drives innovation,” she says. Diversifying the agency’s geographical offering, Shutt led 72andSunny’s expansion into Australia and Singapore, while business innovations include launching both a production unit and the Sundae influencer division, which seeks to connect brands with a 100-person creator network for social media projects.
Hulu had a breakout year with The Handmaid’s Tale (the first series from a streaming service to win an Emmy for outstanding drama) and the launch of its live TV offering, and now Stillerman—who came over from AMC Networks in May—is working to build on that momentum and help Hulu give Netflix a run for its money. He’s doing that by cultivating both Hulu’s acquired content library (this year it added The Golden Girls, Will & Grace, This Is Us and TGIF shows like Full House and Family Matters) and its growing originals slate, including Castle Rock, an anthology series inspired by Stephen King’s novels, and The First, from House of Cards creator Beau Willimon.
Suarez-Davis paid his dues leading global media and digital strategy at Kellogg’s for six years before joining Krux, a data-management platform that CRM giant Salesforce acquired in late 2016. Earlier, he was svp, digital strategy and planning at Leo Burnett/Starcom. So, he’s experienced the transformation of the industry from different perspectives, and applies that knowledge to create “meaningful and tailored brand engagement in an always-on, always-connected world,” he says. Examples include Salesforce’s recent move to more closely integrate its services with Google’s G Suite, Analytics and Cloud offerings, as well as the launch of Salesforce Data Studio, which is designed to connect data owners with buyers and create opportunities for audience discovery, sharing and activation.
If someone posts a honeymoon photo to social media from any of Marriott’s 6,400 hotels around the world, Timpone can act on it, making sure the newlyweds get a bottle of champagne or a room upgrade. That real-time engagement stems from M Live, the Cannes Lion-winning social-media listening hubs and their 24/7 command centers that allow the brand to create “personal relationships” with its visitors. The studios, four and counting, combine the art of storytelling and the science of data, two of Timpone’s favorite and most-used marketing tactics. The globe-trotting exec, who rarely gets jet-lagged, oversees the massive multiplatform “You Are Here” ad campaign created by Grey and shaped by consumers, along with a Universal Music alliance that gives Marriott loyalists VIP treatment, backstage access and other concert perks. Next up: an intimate show from Gwen Stefani at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai.
Rik van der Kooi
“As we look to the future, our goal is to guide clients through this era of digital transformation, and put all of Microsoft’s advertising, data and cloud capabilities at their disposal to build connections with consumers in new and innovative ways,” van der Kooi says. Innovations range from constantly evolving bots—its Bot Network helps users build such automated programs with sundry skills (Microsoft’s #HowOldRobot reads faces to estimate a user’s age)—to an expanded relationship with Publicis for crafting highly engaging AI experiences through a customized version of Cortana.
In launching the brand’s first national ad campaign this fall, Waters sharpened Lyft’s position as the friendly alternative to the embedded and embattled Uber under the tagline, “It matters how you get there,” from Wieden + Kennedy New York. In one spot, actor Jeff Bridges tells consumers to choose their ride “with the right people, doing things for the right reason,” a not-so-subtle dig at the competition. That humanizing approach is credited with bumping up market share, pushing the ride-share service into more U.S. cities and securing $1 billion in venture capital funding last month. (International expansion could be next). Waters, a Pandora veteran, led Round Up & Donate, which has doled out more than $2 million to charities, and #GiveADamn with Budweiser that has delivered 150,000 trips to combat drunken driving.
Add “user experience” to the list of concerns that Weed has had about advertising on digital media (along with brand safety, fraud and transparency issues) because it’s “not in line with the empowered consumer’s expectation of faster, better, more relevant content,” he said at Advertising Week. He’s been a leader in this year’s successful movement to begin reforming the digital ecosystem, while separately launching programs to stamp out stereotypes from the packaged-goods giant’s ads (he debuted Unstereotype at Cannes, along with a partnership with UN Women) and create brands with purpose. The latter, Sustainable Living Brands, is growing more than 50 percent faster than the rest of Unilever’s business and delivering more than 60 percent of the company’s growth.
Fans from every U.S. state and 62 countries flocked to WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, Fla., last April. The event, which broke the Citrus Bowl’s attendance records with 75,000-plus people and grossed $14.5 million, cemented its status as the global entertainment company’s version of the Super Bowl. Wilson describes WWE’s family-friendly mix of programming as “reality TV, drama, comedy and live sports all rolled up into one.” Wilson, an XFL and U.S. Tennis Association marketing vet, has landed sponsorships with Cricket Wireless, KFC, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Snickers and others, while overseeing the franchise’s Mattel deal for WWE’s first fashion dolls based on female superstars. She launched the global WWE Network, in three years becoming one of the most popular OTT services with 1.5 million paid subscriptions. —T.L.S.
Once again, Yaccarino was the biggest winner in this year’s upfronts, wrapping sales of close to $6.5 billion, with volume gains (8 percent) far higher than her competitors as she leveraged NBC hits like This Is Us and Saturday Night Live. She also is leading the charge in mining new revenue streams outside of Nielsen’s traditional age and gender demos, transacting $1 billion in ad inventory this year on data-based advertising via her company’s Audience Studio. And the best is yet to come: in 2018, Yaccarino will oversee ad revenue from an unprecedented trio of global sporting events: the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and Hispanic language rights to the World Cup.
“It’s no secret that the value of agencies is being questioned like never before,” says Yasko, who has served as Johnannes Leonardo’s president since March 2016. “In a way, we’ve done it to ourselves, because we’ve lost sight of what our real value is. It’s bigger than efficiencies, ROI and the next shiny innovation. Our real value is in being a true business partner to our clients—helping them to sort through their most complex, difficult business problems.” Putting that mantra to work yielded an 82 percent revenue gain over the past year, and several big assignments, including MassMutual AOR responsibilities, added without a formal pitch.
“You need to be both crafty and courageous to navigate this period of transformation in media,” Young says. “There will be a couple of scaled global players that lead the lifestyle media business in the future. We will be one of them.” Those bold words are backed up by significant momentum. Hearst has aggressively courted a younger audience and worked to diversify its titles by leveraging Snapchat Discover (where the legacy media company has seven brands, making it the platform’s largest publisher), Facebook Watch (two shows live and five in production) and Musical.ly (Seventeen magazine will develop a show about beauty and fashion for the app). Also, the company recently unveiled a content-to-commerce offering to help ad partners drive consumers further along the purchasing funnel.