The era of the CMO has arrived.

Chief marketing officers are more important to the success of global businesses — and more powerful — than ever before.

Marketers are not only executing on corporate strategy, but are also often among the key shapers of it.

Business Insider / Skye Gould

They are required to master the new digital channels that dominate our lives. They need to navigate quickly in the moment while charting new courses into the future — and at the same time drive revenue while keeping a close eye on costs.

And most importantly, they have to put the customer at the center of everything they do.

Just as some of the most celebrated CEOs have been marketing geniuses (see: Steve Jobs), some of the most lauded CMOs are taking a seat in the boardroom. And, increasingly, some are being elevated to the top job: Stewart Easterbrook at McDonald’s and Stephen Cannon at Mercedes-Benz, to name a couple of recent examples.

With marketers’ positions within their organizations becoming more important than ever, Business Insider is celebrating the best and the brightest global marketers with our inaugural ranking of the 50 most innovative CMOs.

Scroll down to see which marketers made the cut.


Our ranking was compiled by Business Insider’s Senior Advertising Editor Lara O’Reilly. We also drew on the knowledge of an advisory council of independent experts: DDB North America CEO Wendy Clark; CMO Council Executive Director Donovan Neale-May; and ID Comms founder Tom Denford. (Read more about our council at the end of the ranking.)

In addition, we solicited nominations from our readers and included some of their picks.

CMOs were ranked based on a number of different attributes, including:

The Connectors: CMOs who have mixed art, science, and technology in their work.

The Rebels: CMOs who are leading their marketing efforts in a completely different direction from their peers.

The Integrators: CMOs who have excelled in integrating multiple channels.

The Storytellers: CMOs who have mastered the art of storytelling across platforms.

Other factors we took into consideration included: the size of the CMO’s brand, the breadth of their role and responsibilities, their effect on the marketing and advertising industry beyond their own brand, and the extent to which their marketing efforts can be linked to their company’s performance.

Here are some quick references:

The CMO List: Ranked 1 to 50

The CMO List: from A to Z

Additional reporting from Lori Janjigian and Hannah Roberts.

50. Rebecca Messina, SVP and CMO at Beam Suntory

After two decades at Coca-Cola, Messina joined Beam Suntory in April and threw herself straight into the global creative review for the Jim Beam brand, which we are told is all about tightly integrating the media channels.

Messina just hired a VP of integrated marketing communications, tapping another Coca-Cola veteran, David Campbell, for the new role. It represents another example of how Messina is placing integration at the heart of Beam Suntory’s marketing strategy.

Messina told Forbes in April she was attracted to the company by its offer of “a holistic, end-to-end approach to marketing and their view of the connectedness of marketing to the growth agenda.”

While at Coca-Cola, she most recently led marketing and innovation for its venturing and emerging brands unit. In that role, Messina led the introduction of new brand investments, such as Suja Life, to Coca-Cola’s portfolio.

49. Geoff Morrell, SVP of U.S. communications and external affairs at BP

BP is still in the recovery phase after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Morrell, who spent four years as the press secretary at the Pentagon, has led BP’s long-running advertising campaign in the US to answer the question of whether the company has honored its commitment to become safer. Morrell has said BP has used advertising to be a report card on its progress since 2010.

The campaign launched amid a protracted downturn in the oil market and in the midst of the reputational challenges posed by book publishers and Hollywood studios telling their own stories about the spill.

Elsewhere, BP has been using sponsorships — of the Olympics and British cultural institutions such as the British Museum and the annual Portrait Award — to further explain the brand story to consumers.

Morrell joined BP in 2011 as its head of communications. Before his career at the Pentagon, he was a correspondent for ABC News.

48. Miguel Patricio, Anheuser-Busch InBev CMO

Patricio has served as AB InBev’s global chief marketing officer since 2012. His big task at the moment is working into integrate SABMiller, which the company acquired in October for more than $100 billion. The deal expands its portfolio of brands such as Budweiser and Stella Artois to include Pilsner Urquell and Fosters.

Two of the campaigns he has overseen are very much of the moment. The flagship Budweiser brand replaced its name with “America” on its cans and bottles through Election Day. The Bud Light brand is focusing on its Bud Light x Lady Gaga Dive Bar Tour and its NFL sponsorship, which has included limited-edition cans.

Last year, Patricio appointed Wieden+Kennedy to both its global Corona and Bud Light accounts, highlighting the integrated approach the alcohol company applies across its brands.

Patricio is the champion of the company’s global “Buy a Lady a Drink” campaign, designed to draw attention to the millions of people around the world, most of them women, who suffer from lack of access to clean water.

47. Diana O’Brien, Deloitte LLP CMO

O’Brien became Deloitte LLP’s first chief marketing officer in 2015. She has worked at the company since 1985.

Her role includes representing Deloitte LLP in the area of thought leadership — such as its CMO Survey — appearing at events, leading the company’s market development group, and increasing awareness of the brand through sponsorship.

In September, for example, Deloitte announced its sponsorship of The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today section. In April, Deloitte renewed its sponsorship of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams through the Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018, and Tokyo 2020 games.

O’Brien also led the launch of cmo.deloitte.com, a platform that offers marketers technology and industry insights so they can keep on top of the latest trends.

Outside of her work at Deloitte, O’Brien is the chairman and founder of Impact Autism, a charity that supports people with autism and their families.

46. Karen Quintos, Dell CMO

Quintos is set to move into a new “chief customer officer” role, following the $67 billion merger of Dell and EMC. The elevated role will see Quintos responsible for leading “revenue and margin-enhancing” programs, customer experience, building customer relationships, and leading corporate citizenship.

Dell’s campaigns are truly integrated and aim to show how the different parts of the business connect. Quintos is known for tying corporate social responsibility to every element of the business, which earned her a social responsibility accolade at the CMO Awards. And Dell’s lauded “Future Ready” series, told through dramatic episodes, shows how a mix of data, the cloud, and Dell’s network helped a girl get a heart transplant and return to school.

Quintos is a champion of women in IT — and business in general — and sponsors Women in Search of Excellence, Dell’s largest employee-resource group. She also hosts the annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network event.

45. Leonid Sudakov, Mars Petcare CMO

Sudakov has helped create a connected universe of marketing and products for pets, including fitness trackers for pets as well as a video platform that crowdsources content from pet owners.

Last year saw a huge global campaign for Pedigree, with the message that dogs bring out the good in people. The “Feed the Good” work included profiles of former inmates whose pets had transformed their lives. The campaign launched in Brazil but rolled out to other global markets with relevant content for each geographical area, demonstrating Sudakov’s talent as a connector.

Last month, under Sudakov’s direction, Mars Petcare became the launch partner for Flare Studio, BBDO’s video crowdsourcing platform.

44. Marc Mentry, Capital One CMO

One of Mentry’s biggest achievements during his long tenure at Capital One is the award-winning “What’s in Your Wallet” campaign, which has been running since 2000 and continues to improve consumer understanding of the brand — Capital One says that within three years of launch, the brand push helped it achieve “near universal awareness levels” of 99%.

More recently, Mentry has focused on keeping the brand message integrated across all channels — using Instagram influencers to boost ad recall by 16%; calling on Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, and Charles Barkley for a memorable TV campaign; and using sponsorships, including the NCAA and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball concert, to increase brand awareness even more.

Earlier this year, a concert featuring Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Imagine Dragons, and others was live streamed from the Capital One Orange Bowl on the WatchESPN app. The concert was the second-most live-viewed event on the app at the time, behind only ESPN’s World Cup coverage, according to Capital One.

The company also recently ranked among AdAge’s 2016 Power Players Top 25.

43. Karen Walker, SVP and CMO at Cisco

Walker was promoted to CMO at Cisco last year, six years after joining the company. Since joining Cisco, she “has championed marketing’s role as an accountable business function aligning closely with sales teams” and making the department a vital resource for partners.

“There’s never been a better time” — Cisco’s latest brand campaign and its first under Walker as CMO — was featured as Adweek’s Ad of the Day. It was the start of a new approach that puts “customers first and is optimized to reach audiences digitally and socially.”

At least 67% of business buyers are making their purchase decisions online, according to Walker, which has led to her department implementing more channel marketing programs based on behavioral analytics, designed to help customers make faster and more accurate business decisions.

Walker took on responsibility for the company’s growth strategy and is an executive sponsor of several women-related organizations. With her mother as a role model, Walker has put a lot of time and energy into mentoring women in the Cisco Connected Women program. She is a member of Advancing Women Executives in Silicon Valley and is a board member of the IT Services Marketing Association.

42. Lisa Baird, US Olympic Committee CMO

Baird became CMO of the US Olympic Committee in 2009 and is responsible for overseeing sales, marketing, sponsorship, media, events, consumer products, and direct marketing.

Team USA says Baird has “signed more than $400 million in revenue” for the committee since she joined. The corporate sponsorships she manages — with brands such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and Chobani — were 35% of the organization’s 2014 revenue.

Baird starts work on an Olympics more than five years in advance, and she said the Rio Olympics showed “really healthy” numbers despite the negative stories in advance of the event about topics as the Zika virus, security concerns, and the impeachment trial of Brazil’s president.

Baird’s marketing output has included Team USA’s “Road To” platform and its award-winning “Raise Our Flag” campaign. Baird also led the redesign of Team USA’s logo and brand to make it more “contemporary” and “great for the digital world.”

41. Suzy Deering, eBay North America CMO

Deering is early into her tenure at eBay, having joined the commerce site in August 2015, but she has already made a big impact. Her role is about blending the art of marketing with science — and with a treasure trove of data at eBay, she has a lot of science of choose from.

In one example, eBay launched a curated furniture and fine art marketplace — Collective — that includes “Shop the Look” artificial intelligence, allowing consumers to hover over an image and generate search results from the auction site’s inventory that matches the product.

On the art front, Deering has been working to put heart into the brand by emphasizing voice and narrative. The company just launched its first national holiday TV campaign in two years, for example, which focuses on the “excitement of giving.”

When it comes to the people behind the camera, Deering is also helping eBay play a role in “Free the Bid,” a campaign calling on the ad industry to give a voice to more female directors.

40. Darren Serrao, Congra Brands chief growth officer

Serrao came on board as Conagra Brands’ chief growth officer in August 2015 from Campbell Soup, where he led US marketing. Reporting to the company’s chief executive, Serrao leads the company’s Growth Center of Excellence and is responsible for marketing, innovation, insights, and research and development.

Innovation is the really the core of Serrao’s work. He says that smaller companies in the food market are driving two-thirds of the overall growth in the US food category because they are able to be “faster, more iterative.”

Serrao told Food Business News that Conagra has been looking for “growth pockets” by disaggregating the 150 traditional food categories and regrouping them based on the foods’ attributes and what consumers think of them. That work showed the “vegan” attribute appearing in many of its growth pockets — which may not have popped up when looking at the traditional food categories — changing the way it thinks about the vegan business opportunity.

Meanwhile, Serrao told The Chicago Tribune he has also been looking to “renovate” brands with “modern attributes,” such as sourcing its Alexia frozen potato products from ingredients that aren’t genetically modified. The company also launched two organic products to be sold at Whole Foods.

39. Rand Harbert, State Farm CMO

This summer, Harbert took a decadeslong positioning that insurance is for when things go wrong and took a 180 view: Insurance is for when things go right.

The new brand platform, “Here to help life go right” — moving away from its “good neighbor” tagline — was launched during the first game of the NBA Finals, of which the brand is a sponsor. In the cinematic 60-second launch ad, a child asks, “What if we woke up one day and everything just stopped going wrong?”

Harbert said of the rebrand, “We thought it was time to hit the refresh button in a category that’s got a lot of clutter today — everyone seems to be talking to the consumer in the same way.”

Harbert probably has more insight into his industry and company than most — he started as a State Farm agent in 1992.

38. Emily Culp, Keds CMO

Culp joined Keds USA in July 2015 and quickly set to work on bringing its global platform “Ladies First Since 1916″ to life.

She dived into launching a global online, outdoor, and print campaign starring Taylor Swift that was all about female empowerment.

Culp told PR Week sales improved in the US by 20% and internationally by 50% as a result of the campaign. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales grew over 35%, and the brand’s Instagram following increased by 50%.

As part of the push, Culp formed the “Keds Collective,” which comprises eight female entrepreneurs from the art, fashion, and technology businesses.

This year, she was named one of Adweek’s Vital Leaders in Tech, Media, and Marketing.

37. Michelle Wilson, WWE CMO

WWE credits Wilson with transforming the company’s approach to its annual signature events. Whereas before they were single-day events, now they’re weeklong revenue-generators that attract huge attendances both at arenas and online.

This year WWE expanded into China; its first live event took place in Shanghai in September. Wilson led WWE’s partnerships with PPTV and Expo Group in the region.

Wilson has also helped WWE attract sponsorships with brands including Snickers, General Mills, Pepsi, General Motors, Mars, and 7-Eleven — tripling the company’s revenue from sponsorship since she joined. She has expanded WWE’s involvement with charitable organizations including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Special Olympics.

Demonstrating her truly multichannel approach, Wilson has been credited with growing WWE’s digital subscription service, WWE Network, which had 1.46 million subscribers in the third quarter. A Parks Associates study found that WWE Network had the second-highest Net Promoter Score among major video streaming services in the US, behind only Netflix.

36. Björn Annwall, Volvo CMO

A former McKinsey & Co. consultant, Annwall brings different expertise to his role as the global sales and marketing boss at Volvo. Annwall joined the automaker at the end of 2015, but he has quickly helped the company strike a number of important partnerships.

Earlier this month, Volvo forged a deal with Microsoft to test Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset. Annwall said he hopes consumers will soon use the headset to customize and test cars in a virtual showroom. The companies have also signed a deal to make driverless cars together.

Meanwhile, Volvo and Uber are testing self-driving SUVs and a self-driving truck, which completed a 120-mile beer run in October.

Another example of Volvo moving quickly to use new technologies is its launch of an in-car delivery service — turning a car into a delivery location with a one-time digital key — in partnership with the delivery startup Urb-it, which aims to deliver online orders within two hours.

On the advertising front, readers in the US may recall Volvo’s unusual series of recent spots that began with the surreal  “Wedding” ad in June that was followed up with a cryptic ad called “Song of the Open Road.”

35. Diego Scotti, EVP and CMO at Verizon

At the heart of Verizon’s marketing strategy is deep collaboration with its partners. In a speech at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference this year titled “The Power of Collaboration,” Scotti explained how he brings together senior agency leaders, who often compete with one another, for monthly meetings.

He also formed what he called a “Challenger Board,” which is “a group of people whose job is to tell Scotti why his ideas are stupid and why he’ll waste Verizon’s money.”

One idea that didn’t get kiboshed was Verizon’s logo change, switching from its “Big Red” design to a black and white one with a small checkmark, which the company described as the “universal symbol for getting things done.”

Another big overhaul was Verizon’s data plans — the carrier added 30% more data to compensate for the amount of video people now consume on their phones. To promote the new plans, Verizon signed up LeBron James, Selena Gomez, the characters from kids’ show “Yo Gabba Gabba,” and Enrique Iglesias. Each spot told the story of a real-life situation when people may need some extra data. Its latest ad, starring Jamie Foxx, takes direct aim at Sprint.

34. David Roman, Lenovo CMO

Roman joined Lenovo in 2010 and has overseen a tremendous amount of change at the world’s second-biggest PC manufacturer. Roman oversees a global brand with very different audiences and levels of brand awareness between its home market in Asia and the West.

Roman has been tasked with integrating and growing the Motorola brand following Lenovo’s acquisition of the company from Google in 2014. Motorola appears to have found its niche in the Android smartphone market, with many of its latest devices earning rave reviews from the tech press.

Last year, Lenovo underwent a global rebrand. Roman said the identity was created to help people understand the company “spans different categories, that has this attitude of never stand still, that’s really focused on the internet.”

That focus isn’t just displayed in Lenovo’s media plan — Roman’s marketing team uses social data and works with the IT department’s data scientists to drive product development and marketing activity.

33. Roger Solé, Sprint CMO

Solé was only recently promoted to CMO, but he has already made an impact with the “That Wireless Guy” campaign, which launched during the NBA Finals.

The ad played on the fact that its star, Paul Marcarelli, was the face of competitor Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now” commercials for about a decade. Fast Company posited that Marcarelli’s switch could be “the biggest coup in advertising history.”

Another innovative marketing program Solé has led included its offer of 50% off most Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile rate plans; the “iPhone Forever” campaign starring former Sprint employee Prince Royce; and launching the Sprint Open World plan, which gives customers free data roaming in most countries in Latin America.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said Solé “has exceptional abilities to connect with consumers,” and that he “has increased our ability to serve Hispanic customers and has spurred innovation across the organization.”

32. Alison Lewis, Johnson & Johnson CMO

Lewis has served as the global CMO of Johnson & Johnson since 2013, presiding over an estimated $2.5 billion in global marketing spend across brands including Johnson’s, Neutrogena, and Carefree.

Her biggest task has been to unite J&J’s brands globally across different business units. To meet that challenge, she created a branding framework so that the company’s global marketing team of 400 people follows the same six-step process.

An example of Lewis’ connected approach is Neutrogena this year, when the brand was looking to introduce new foundations for women of color, as Adweek reported.

The brand communicated directly with consumers who had complained about its lack of products in this area and invited them to chat on FaceTime with actress and Neutrogena ambassador Kerry Washington. Lewis said the work showed that Neutrogena “really listens” and “really cares” for its consumers, according to Adweek.

31. Alan Gellman, Esurance CMO

Gellman joined Esurance in 2014, having led digital marketing at Wells Fargo. On joining the Allstate-owned insurance company, Gellman said his plan was to break through the “noise” of a sector that invests a lot in flashy ad campaigns by targeting specific groups of customers with products ideal for them.

Gellman has used his digital experience to make “data and the use of information” the “heart and the core of” Esurance’s DNA, he told AdAge. Esurance hasn’t just used data for marketing — the brand is also instilling data into customer-facing products, such as a pay-per-mile insurance offering for drivers who own a vehicle but sometimes commute by bike or public transport. Also, according to AdAge, the Esurance website uses algorithms to determine which products it should surface to customers.

A fun recent marketing campaign is evidence of this data-centric approach: Esurance tapped into the Pokémon Go craze with an experiential campaign designed to address the series of car accidents allegedly caused by people playing the game.

Other highlights from Esurance this year included its Super Bowl $1 million sweepstake campaign, which leaned heavily on Twitter and earned it the accolade of most-mentioned brand during the game; a fake April Fool’s Day “Election Insurance” product, offering abandoned-home coverage to owners moving abroad following the election; and entering the second year of its multiyear sponsorship of Major League Baseball.

30. Allie Kline, AOL CMO

Over the past three years, first as CMO of AOL Platforms and since 2015 as the chief marketer of the entire company, Kline has helped build AOL’s B2B story so marketers and agencies are clear on what AOL stands for.

AOL’s big marketing push has been its “One by AOL” strategy — its full-stack ad tech platform that, unlike some of its biggest rivals, does away with the “walled gardens” approach and instead pushes an “open” one that allows other ad tech players and publishers to participate too.

Kline recently reorganized the marketing division to break down silos, meaning each of its groups is now tied to a specific message or an approach.

“We do very little that is a one-off and doesn’t leverage multiple marketing and communications groups. So we look for people that are maniacal about the message and also very collaborative by nature,” Kline told Mashable last year.

Next on her agenda is working out what the AOL brand stands for now after the company was acquired by Verizon, which has also announced its intentions to acquire Yahoo. Kline told Business Insider earlier this year that the AOL brand might be dropped altogether in favor of what AOL CEO Tim Armstrong describes as a more “Berkshire Hathaway-type” branding approach.

29. Andy Donkin, Under Armour CMO

Under Armour hired Donkin from Amazon in August, so we’ve yet to really see what his effect on the sports apparel business will be.

But we can get a flavor from his work at Amazon, where Donkin served as head of worldwide brand and mass marketing. He led campaigns for products including FireTV, Kindle, and Prime.

Amazon launched its first Super Bowl campaign this year to promote the Echo wireless voice-command device. The spot showed actor Alec Baldwin throwing a Super Bowl party with the help of Echo. Guests included former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, actor Jason Schwartzman, and Missy Elliott. Amazon also assembled a team of about 20 people to interact with people on social media before, during, and after the game.

In an interview with VentureBeat, Donkin explained how he approached marketing at Amazon: “How do we move from this idea, from being a functional brand to an emotional brand? How do you begin to tell the story of a category that sounds very complicated?”

Andy Nairn, founder of Amazon’s ad agency, Lucky Generals, said of Donkin: “He is a great client to work with. Straightforward, decent, and ambitious. The kind of person you want right next to you in the trenches.”

28. Gary Briggs, Facebook CMO

Briggs became Facebook’s first chief marketing officer in 2013, jumping ship from Google.

Last year, he explained how Facebook has brought a lot more of its creative in-house — rather than using agencies — “for speed.” Most of Facebook’s advertising output now is developed by its internal creative team, The Factory, which counts a number of former senior agency creatives among its ranks.

Recently, Facebook invested in a multimillion-dollar global ad campaign aimed at educating people on how to use Facebook Live. Every video and image as shot using Facebook Live on a phone, and none of the dialog was scripted, Briggs said.

Outside of his role at Facebook, Briggs serves on the advisory boards at the Lagunitas Brewing Company and Lending Club, and is a board director at LifeLock.

27. Seth Farbman, Spotify CMO

Farbman joined Spotify in 2015 from Gap, where he was global CMO. In an interview shortly after his appointment, Farbman said both brands were similar because music is a “currency that you share with others; it’s how you express yourself. That’s the same as fashion.”

Farbman’s currency at Spotify is data from the streaming platform’s 100 million monthly active users. Those insights have helped shape significant marketing programs, such as its Year in Music visualization, which let users reminisce on their listening habits.

Farbman’s team also used insights from Spotify, Facebook, Google and other digital channels to help inform its big-budget ad campaign that used several TV, film, and online spots to explain that behind every song there is a story. Farbman has also helped Spotify activate key partnership deals, including with Starbucks and Twitter.

In 2014, Farbman was named one of Forbes’ 10 most influential CMOs, and one of the 50 most creative people by AdAge.

26. Jennelle Tilling, global chief marketing and innovation officer at KFC

KFC promoted Tilling from UK marketing chief to global CMO in 2013, making her responsible for the KFC brand across 125 countries.

In the US in 2015, the brand brought back its Colonel Sanders character, with a number of different actors playing the role. Greg Creed, CEO of YumBrands, KFC’s parent company, said in May last year that 80% of viewers responded positively to the ads and 20% hated them — and that he was happy about the hate “because now they at least have an opinion.”

In October, Creed attributed KFC US’s nine quarters of same-store sales growth to “distinctive and disruptive advertising and positioning” plus “breakthrough marketing.”

Under Tilling’s leadership, KFC has also dramatically redesigned its restaurants, publicly committed to a new quality standard it’s calling “Re-Colonelization,” and added new regional menu items.

25. Ann Mukherjee, SC Johnson CMO

Mukherjee joined SC Johnson in September 2015 as its first global CMO, presiding over more than $1 billion in media spend and dozens of household brands.

SC Johnson won five Lions at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this year, with four awarded to Glade’s “Museum of Feelings” interactive experience. The museum, which popped up in New York last November, saw 56,000 visitors take in fragrance exhibits. The exterior of the building also changed color to reflect the mood of the city, based on data from Twitter.

The other Cannes win was for Ziploc for an outdoor campaign that used the empty space in spills of cereal, toys, and tools to spell out the message “Life needs Ziploc.”

At Cannes, Mukherjee explained how she is using data as the foundation to dazzle consumers with creative campaigns: “We can’t simply take on board the data without reminding ourselves of the inspiration of why we are here. Data is latest magic pixie dust. Going back to fundamentals works every time.”

24. Marc Mathieu, Samsung USA CMO

Mathieu was Unilever’s No. 2 marketer until June last year, when he was snapped up by Samsung to look after marketing for all of its products in the US.

Mathieu is famous for saying at Unilever, “Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling it; it’s now about finding the truth and sharing it.”

That mantra helps focus Mathieu’s thinking when it comes to marketing, and was evident in the recent “Why” campaign for the Samsung Galaxy S7, in which a number of big-name stars like Lil Wayne and William H. Macy asked tech questions that began with “why.”

The company is also trying to push the idea of virtual reality to the mainstream. At big trade shows and its marketing concept store in New York, Samsung has exhibited a roller coaster VR experience, with rows of moving chairs for people to strap themselves into.

“The duality between experiencing VR and watching people experience VR is a very interesting marketing platform,” Mathieu told AdAge earlier this year.

23. Nuno Teles, Heineken CMO

Teles has led Heineken USA’s marketing since 2014, managing a portfolio of 11 brands and a budget of more than $200 million.

For the Heineken brand, marketing in the US and beyond is anchored to a core message — “To Live Legendary.” But this year, Teles decided to take a break from that with a campaign that brought the brand back to its roots. “There’s More Behind the Star” highlighted the brand’s heritage and consistent use of its original recipe.

Elsewhere, Don Equis said goodbye to its first “Most Interesting Man in the World” by sending him to Mars and introduced a new man in the role. And Tecate launched an ad titled “Beer Wall” that aired during the first presidential debate and poked fun at Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. It has been viewed more than 50 million times and achieved an 86% positive sentiment score, Heineken says.

Teles told Digiday earlier this year his key focus is using data to understand the millennial drinker — one who isn’t necessarily brand-loyal, and tends to gravitate toward craft beer.

For example, Heineken ran tests of digital versus TV ad campaigns for its Desperados tequila-flavored beer that showed TV led to “zero-percent awareness” while digital achieved 23%. As a result, 25% of the brand’s total budget is now on digital.

22. Greg Hoffman, Nike CMO

Hoffman was promoted to Nike’s CMO in April. He’s a veteran of the company, having joined in 1992 and risen up through a variety of design positions. He has overseen some of Nike’s most ambitious marketing projects, but he still doodles — Hoffman says he is known for “drawing on yellow stickies and leaving them on desks and retail spaces.”

Nike has become synonymous with storytelling, particularly when it comes to tentpole sporting events.

Nike’s Olympic “Unlimited” campaign about everyday athletes was the most remembered Olympic ad of the 2016 Games, according to Google. As Adweek reported, more than 34% of consumers remembered it, beating out Coca-Cola’s “That’s Gold” campaign. Nike says the 18 films that formed the campaign drew 480 million digital views and 1.1 billion TV impressions.

Nike’s Euro 2016 campaign, featuring Real Madrid and Portugal national team star Cristiano Ronaldo magically swapping places with an English teenager, was the most-shared ad of the soccer tournament, according to the video ad tech company Unruly.

21. Julia Goldin, EVP and CMO at Lego

Goldin became Lego’s CMO in 2015. Before that, she held senior marketing roles at Revlon and Coca-Cola.

In an interview at Dmexco this year, Goldin said the act of building powers all of Lego’s marketing.

“Lego starts with a very clear mission — to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow,” she said. “We’re very clear about this mission, and everything starts there. So when we innovate we start with that core experience. The key thing is to be very focused on the experiences you want to deliver and make sure you’re not becoming a slave to the platform.”

An example of this is the way in which Lego has cultivated a community of skilled adult fans on YouTube, a group it calls the AFOL — adult fans of Lego. Lego consults AFOL for advice on the types of products it should launch next, some of which the fan community even helps create.

2015 was a standout year for Lego, featuring co-branded toys with “Star Wars” and “Frozen,” plus new products like its “Lego Dimensions” video game. These helped grow revenues by 25% year-on-year, to $5.33 billion, and increase profits by 31%, to $1.4 billion.

20. Joe Jordan, Domino’s CMO

Jordan was promoted from vice president of field marketing to the pizza chain’s CMO in May 2015.

Domino’s is famous for its fun digital marketing ideas that usually have a tech spin — and it is often first to showcase new technologies.

In February, Domino’s released spots playing on stereotypical auto advertising, showcasing its “delivery car of the future” — DXP. This year, Domino’s has also unveiled pizza-delivering drones, a self-driving delivery unit, and the ability to order pizza through a Facebook Messenger bot.

Outside of tech innovations, Jordan’s team pushed the boundaries with its launch of salad delivery so “everybody can be happy on pizza night.”

19. Andrew Sherrard, T-Mobile CMO

Sherrard has been with T-Mobile since 2003. Alongside CEO John Legere, he has helped build its reputation as the “Un-carrier.”

Recent unconventional campaigns led by Sherrard include the brand signing DJ Khaled to launch a Snapchat series, launching the T-Mobile Tuesdays loyalty program that gets customers free products and services on Tuesdays, and its $70 “unlimited plan” called T-Mobile One.

More traditionally, T-Mobile grabbed naming rights for a new sports arena, which opened on the Las Vegas Strip in April. T-Mobile also used its Super Bowl ads this year to turn the heat up on competitors, with a spot starring Drake and another starring Steve Harvey. And anyone who watched this year’s World Series saw T-Mobile’s #unlimitedbaseball initiative.

ExecRank placed Sherrard at No. 3 in its algorithmic ranking of the top CMOs in the US in 2015.

18. Ted Ward, Geico CMO

Ward has been with Geico since 1984 — probably the longest CMO tenure in the business — and he is consistently producing outside-the-box work that garners accolades in the marketing world.

Adweek named Geico’s “Unskippable” work, in which the brand took on skippable YouTube ads by freeze-framing the scene except for one character — like the destructive dog at a family dinner — its ad of the day in March 2015. The campaign won the Grand Prix award in the film category at Cannes and was one of the most-awarded ads of the year, helping Geico pick up “Client of the Year” at the One Show.

Campaign described Geico’s partnership with ad agency The Martin Agency as one of the US’s “most creative partnerships,” thanks to its “relentlessly consistent” — as described by Ward — comedic ads that have helped the brand move from No. 8 to No. 2 in the insurance category over the last decade.

Ward told Campaign in May that unlike many marketers, “we don’t test stuff,” as that would make its ads “mediocre.” Instead, the brand focuses more on the art than the science, resulting in edgy campaigns that yield a huge audience, like its “Hump Day” experience that garnered around 40 million viewers.

17. Jon Iwata, SVP of marketing and communications at IBM

Iwata, who has been at IBM for more than 30 years, has helped steer its transformation from a computer maker to a cognitive computing company — with its Watson AI technology at the nucleus. IBM says Iwata saw the potential for Watson to grow from a computer-science lab project to one of the world’s most recognized technology brands.

In September, Iwata named former Gilt Group CEO Michel

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