Presenting Adweek’s inaugural Power List, our ranking of the 100 most influential, innovative and effective leaders controlling media, marketing and technology. To assemble this list, we considered the profiles and results of corporate titans, taking into account such criteria as the value of company assets, revenue and revenue growth, consumer reach and affinity, market performance, standing among rivals, employees overseen, key acquisitions and partnerships, and industry accolades and media buzz. Agency chieftains, tech titans, media execs and the CEOs of top brand marketers populate the universe we cover day to day—and the top of the top are represented here.
1. Larry Page
Larry Page Photo: James Leynse/Corbis
CEO, co-founder, Google
Revenue: $66 billion
Larry Page opened a new window into the Information Age 17 years ago when he and Sergey Brin formed Google, revolutionizing the way practically every human being accesses information. Of course, Google has grown far beyond search. It is one of the most powerful corporations on the planet— and Page, 42, is the principal architect of that success.
“Larry will be known as a person who is relentless in driving his company to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities that come from the explosion of tech,” says Steven Levy, author of In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives. “He takes a long view when many others fret about the short term.”
Page has actually served two terms as CEO, serving as president of products during Eric Schmidt’s decade-long run as chief executive. Since Page returned to the top job in 2011, Google’s market cap has nearly doubled to $370 billion, as profits soared to $14.4 billion (up from $8.5 billion at the time Schmidt slid into the chairman role). “Larry helped build a company that made a huge difference in how we behave,” says Levy, “and if some of his big bets pay off, search won’t be the only big difference Google makes.
Google’s ubiquity is astonishing. From Android to Chromebooks, from AdWords to Maps and so much more, there’s virtually no corner of technology, media and advertising in which Google is not a player. “We want to build technology that everybody loves using, and that affects everyone,” Page has said. “We want to create beautiful, intuitive services and technologies that are so incredibly useful that people use them twice a day. Like they use a toothbrush. There aren’t that many things people use twice a day.”
An intense, driven personality, Page wants to provide big products and services that have global impact. He continues to broaden Google’s horizons, developing self-driving cars, drones (Project Wing) and super-fast connectivity (Google Fiber).
Yes, there have been glitches. The Google+ social network never clicked, Google Glass’ future seems foggy, and the company has come under increased pressure in Europe over privacy concerns. Even so, the transcendent power of the company is indisputable. It has, in short, become an essential thread in the fabric of modern life.
“Lots of companies don’t succeed over time,” Page once said. “What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it? And how do we power our organization to really focus on that and really drive it at a high rate?”
2. Tim Cook
Revenue: $182.8 billion
Cook, 54, followed the legendary Steve Jobs—and he’s well on his way to becoming as big a legend. In nearly four years at the helm, Apple doubled its market capitalization, becoming the first U.S. company to hit $700 billion. Its financials routinely set records, including Q1 earnings of $18 billion, the most for any company in a single quarter ever. Q2 sales of 61.2 million iPhones “blew away even the most bullish forecasts,” reported CNN Money—and 1 million consumers in the U.S. alone pre-ordered the Apple Watch on its first day of availability. Clearly, Cook has built on Jobs’ facility to fuel broad cultural trends. What’s more, the openly gay CEO took to The Washington Post’s op-ed page in March to warn against pending “religious freedom” legislation in various states that could result in discrimination against the LGBT community.
3. Mark Zuckerberg
CEO, chairman, co-founder, Facebook
Revenue: $12.5 billion
Zuckerberg, 31, changed the way the planet stays connected, informed and entertained—and despite cries it is losing influence among millennials, Facebook shows no sign of losing muscle. Its market cap hovers around $220 billion—more than double its value at the time of its IPO three years ago. In Q1, the dominant social net claimed 1.44 billion monthly active users and 1.25 million monthly mobile users, growth of 13 and 24 percent, respectively. Zuckerberg’s focus on mobile advertising could further turbo-charge growth, while Instant Articles may well herald a sea change in digital content. And yet, Zuckerberg and his domain represent more than mere figures on a balance sheet and “friends” amassed. Eleven years after Facebook’s launch, the company remains the embodiment of instantaneous communication and sharing on a global scale, making the world a much less lonely place for a billion of us.
4. Robert Iger
CEO, chairman, The Walt Disney Co. (includes ABC, ESPN, Disney theme parks)
Revenue: $48.8 billion
Robert Iger Photo: Wesley Mann/August
The force is with Iger, 64, who is credited with revitalizing and expanding Disney’s empire in his decade at the helm through a mix of people skills (he can mend fences), strategic genius (aggressive, diversified merchandising to enhance films’ profitability) and savvy acquisitions including Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. Under Iger, Disney’s market cap has more than doubled to $185 billion—making it no surprise that the company extended his contract through 2018.
5. A.G. Lafley
CEO, president, chairman, Procter & Gamble
Revenue: $83 billion
Lafley, 67, is an innovative thinker and savvy marketer who gives brands at the world’s largest advertiser leeway to forge sharper images while staying true to the middle-American ethos the company’s come to represent. Currently, he has cost cutting on his mind, and plans to divest numerous brands in order to focus on big sellers like Tide, Crest, Gillette and Always (whose “Like a Girl” campaign last year swept social media and the industry, winning the PR Grand Clio Award) while simultaneously trimming marketing costs (U.S. media chores just went into review). “Less will be much more,” Lafley has said. “We are going to create a faster growing, more profitable company that’s far simpler to operate.”
6. Rupert Murdoch
CEO, chairman, 21st Century Fox (includes Fox film studio and television network, Star TV, Sky); executive chairman, News Corp. (includes Dow Jones, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal)
Revenue: $31.9 billion (Fox); $8.6 billion (News Corp.)
Employees: 20,000 (Fox), 25,000 (News Corp.)
After six decades in the business, this old-school media titan is not just a legend but also still very much a maverick. Even with his company’s already considerable influence on the business (Michael Wolff’s biography of Murdoch was titled The Man Who Owns the News), Murdoch, 84, remains intent on growing his empire, even though last year’s $80 billion bid for Time Warner fizzled. “I just felt with all the uncertainties in the world, I didn’t want to be carrying that degree of debt,” Murdoch has said of that deal. Might he make another run at that target, or others? Stay tuned.
7. Martin Sorrell
Martin Sorrell Photo: Pal Hansen/Contour by Getty
CEO, WPP Group
Revenue: $17.4 billion
Despite an 8 percent Q1 revenue spike, Sorrell warned of a “demanding year” ahead for adland’s largest holding company, with no Olympics or World Cup to fuel growth across its properties, which include Grey, JWT, Ogilvy & Mather and Y&R. The outspoken Sorrell, 70, tweaked rivals Omnicom and Publicis when their proposed merger collapsed—and he’s established himself as a particularly droll and perceptive pundit on matters of marketing and media. When Sorrell speaks, we all listen.
8. Brian Roberts
CEO, chairman, Comcast (includes NBCUniversal, Universal Studios, MSNBC, Telemundo)
Revenue: $68.8 billion
Roberts, 55, invested a hefty $336 million on a failed attempt to add Time Warner Cable to the Comcast fold, a quest he finally abandoned in April owing to government opposition. On the plus side, he’s strengthened operations at both the NBC television network (the broadcast leader among adults 18-49) and its cable operations, while the company’s just-wrapped upfront presentations were a huge hit—with 168 of the planet’s biggest stars (Dolly Parton! The Kardashians!) making the trek to New York to woo advertisers. In fact, NBCU contributed $25.4 billion in revenue last year to the Comcast bottom line, a 7.5 percent year-over-year gain.
9. Indra Nooyi
CEO, chairman, PepsiCo
Revenue: $66.7 billion
She shoots—she scores! PepsiCo recently unseated the Coca-Cola Co. as the official food and beverage partner of the NBA. That gives Nooyi, 59, control of beverage rights across all four major U.S. pro leagues, reflecting her desire to “redefine the meaning of sports marketing partnerships.” Pepsi also sponsors the Super Bowl halftime show—and the NBA play should resonate with millennial consumers as the company leverages the relationship across Doritos, Ruffles and Mountain Dew. Meanwhile, Gatorade was selected to receive the Clio Sports Grand Icon Award this year.
10. Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos Photo: Pari Dukovic/Trunk Archive
CEO, chairman, president, founder, Amazon.com
Revenue: $88.9 billion
Running the mightiest American e-commerce company, Bezos, 51, sits at the intersection of content, commerce and technology, with Amazon playing an outsized role in shaping tastes and defining popular culture. Bezos’ ambitions are sky-high—literally—as he proposes Amazon deliveries from drones, an idea that’s being scrutinized by federal regulators. His more terrestrial interests had him buying The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, with old media hands speculating (praying?) that other icons of print media may find their ultimate savior in billionaire white knights.
11. Leslie Moonves
CEO, president, CBS (includes CBS network, Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix, CBS Films)
Revenue: $13.8 billion
Moonves, 65, a supremely confident, smart, pugnacious player, has become a legendary figure in the broadcast business by restoring the shine of “the Tiffany network” while expanding its reach substantially. In extending his contract through June 2019, the board praised his push for ratings success (long-running hits include The Big Bang Theory and NCIS), his retransmission, on-demand and streaming deals, his takedown of Aereo, and the successful launch of CBS All Access and CBSN.
12. Irene Rosenfeld
Irene Rosenfeld Photo: Mike McGregor/Countour by Getty
CEO, chairman, Mondelez
Revenue: $34.2 billion
Acutely aware that the snack-food category is in transition, Rosenfeld, 62, has worked hard to polish the image of scores of Mondelez brands since the company spun out of Kraft three years ago. Healthy pitches for Belvita and Triscuit acknowledge consumers’ changing tastes, while quirky Oreos ads stress fun and inclusive Honey Maid campaigns deliciously celebrate the modern family.
13. Paul Polman
Revenue: $52 billion
At the world’s No. 2 advertiser (behind P&G), Polman, 58, leads an ambitious effort to halve the environmental impact of Unilever’s product portfolio—which ranges from Axe, Dove and Caress to Hellmann’s, Ben & Jerry’s and Vaseline—by 2020. That has rankled some investors in light of Unilever’s sales slowdown in emerging markets. Ironically, last year’s false-advertising lawsuit, ultimately dropped, against Just Mayo generated a Change.org petition with 112,000 signatures demanding that Unilever “stop bullying sustainable food companies.”
14. Jeff Bewkes
CEO, chairman, Time Warner (includes Warner Bros., The CW, DC Comics, HBO, Turner, CNN)
Revenue: $27.3 billion
Bewkes, 63, sent Rupert Murdoch—with his $80-billion buyout bid—packing. But is TW really better off alone? Its share price has hovered around $85—which is what Murdoch offered—but ad sales were sluggish last year amid a falloff in audience numbers and weaker ad demand. TW rebounded in Q1, owing to NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament coverage, which Bewkes called “a multiplatform success” that drove Turner cable channels’ “best quarter ever.” Meanwhile, Murdoch sits courtside, watching and waiting.
15. John Wren
CEO, president, Omnicom
Revenue: $15.3 billion
Omnicom’s proposed merger with French rival Publicis Groupe bit the dust. Sacré bleu! Even so, Wren, 62, led adland’s No. 2 holding company—parent of the BBDO, DDB and TBWA networks and Omnicom Media Group—to a solid performance last year. Its 5 percent global revenue gain beat the company’s own projections, and Wren has vowed that Omnicom would work hard to best this year’s 3.5 percent growth estimate.
16. Carlos Brito
CEO, Anheuser-Busch InBev
Revenue: $47.1 billion
The Brazilian king of beers may soon add fizz to operations at the world’s largest brewer. Brito, 54, could make a play for PepsiCo—or else target his main rival in the global beer market, SABMiller. On tap for the foreseeable future: pitching Budweiser to millennials, a move designed to reverse the brand’s quarter-century U.S. decline owing to craft brews’ rise in popularity.
17. Akio Toyoda
Akio Toyoda Photo: Ko Sasaki
CEO, president, Toyota
Revenue: $248 billion
This scion of the Japanese automotive dynasty has brought a sleek sense of high-tech sophistication to the world’s No. 1 carmaker. Toyoda, 59, strives “to build more exciting vehicles with appliance-like quality, rather than appliance-like styling and ambiance,” says industry analyst George Peterson. With recalls over acceleration and air bags behind him, “Toyoda can concentrate on molding the company into an even more formidable competitor. Toyota will be hard to stop with its resources and aggressive attitude.”
18. Jean-Paul Agon
CEO, chairman, L’Oréal
Revenue: $29.9 billion
Agon, 58, has taken the broad view in his four years at the helm, typified by the brand’s inclusive “Beauty for All” positioning. Recent expansion includes the acquisitions of NYX, Carol’s Daughter, Magic Holdings and Niely Cosmeticos, and the completion of deals for Decléor and Carita. In the digital realm, 2014 saw the successful launch of Makeup Genius, an app that lets customers “try on” cosmetics via facial-mapping technology.
19. Muhtar Kent
CEO, chairman, Coca-Cola Co.
Revenue: $46 billion
Is everybody happy? Not Kent, apparently. As concerns about the obesity epidemic rage, the beverage behmoth’s fortunes have gone flat. Kent, 63, responded decisively by naming a new marketing chief, Marcos de Quinto, and launching a revamped theme, “Choose Happiness,” in Europe, positioning the iconic Coke brand as essential to enjoying the human condition to its fullest. Still, analysts question whether advertising will be able to solve the company’s problems and restore a smile to Kent’s face. (Pop culture note: Coke scored the ultimate plug in the series finale of AMC’s Mad Men.)
20. Mark Parker
CEO, president, Nike
Revenue: $27.8 billion
Parker, 59, joined the Nike rank and file back in 1979 as a shoe designer and worked his way up—all the way up—meaning he has a deep-rooted and personal stake in maintaining the brand’s position as the world’s leader in athletic apparel and accessories. “Parker’s relentless focus on protecting the Nike brand while driving the best innovation team in the business are the keys to his success,” says NPD Group analyst Matt Powell. “Nike will maintain its supremacy for years to come.”
21. Lowell McAdam
CEO, chairman, Verizon
Revenue: $127.1 billion
Verizon just committed a whopping $4.4 billion toward the acquisition of AOL, explaining it “supports our strategy to provide a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers.” McAdam, 60, rose through the mobile ranks, and is focused on cutting the cord to generate growth in wireless, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of the company’s revenue. After losing a bruising net-neutrality battle, the executive agreed to sell $10.5 billion in wired assets to Frontier, noting that the FCC’s plan to regulate the Internet drove his decision.
22. Mary Barra
CEO, General Motors
Revenue: $155.9 billion
Barra, 53, faced a tough road in her first year at the helm of the world’s No. 2 automaker, testifying several times before Congress about a deadly ignition-switch problem that led to one of several recalls. Though some were critical of how the first female chief executive at a major auto company handled the heat, others praised her performance. “It’s our responsibility. Overall, we are dramatically enhancing our approach to safety,” she has said.
23. Grant Reid
Global president, Mars
Revenue: $33 billion (est.)
Employees: 75,000 (est.)
Reid took over from Paul Michaels, who retired as 2015 began, after running the candy giant’s global chocolate business, where he was credited with driving growth and nurturing the company’s Sustainable Cocoa initiative. He recently voiced support for government recommendations that consumers restrict their sugar intake to 10 percent of daily calories and backed an FDA proposal to detail sugar content on food labels—savvy moves given the outcry over obesity and the trend toward healthier eating.
24. Randall Stephenson
CEO, chairman, AT&T
Revenue: $132.5 billion
Stephenson’s $48.5 billion bid to snap up DirecTV got a boost in recent weeks after a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling cleared the way for the Federal Communications Commission to review the proposal. Stephenson, 55, foresees AT&T significantly increasing its pay-TV market share and strengthening its position in Latin America if the buyout goes through. And observers do expect it to get approved, though in the wake of the failed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, the picture is less certain.
25. Alex Gorsky
CEO, chairman, Johnson & Johnson
Revenue: $74.3 billion
Gorsky’s prescription for compassion generated headlines and goodwill twice so far this month. First, the pharmaceutical and CPG giant said it would seek advice from independent bio-ethicists at New York University’s School of Medicine about saying yes or no when dying patients who are not in clinical trials seek access to experimental medicines. Then, Gorsky, 55, also announced the company would offer employees up to 17 paid weeks of paternity leave. With brands ranging from Listerine to Neutrogena, Tylenol to Band-Aid, it’s hard to imagine a company with closer ties to the American household.
26. Steve Easterbrook
CEO, president, McDonald’s
Revenue: $27.4 billion
Employees: 1.9 million (incl. all franchises)
Elevated from chief brand officer in March, the affable Brit—who guided McD’s U.K. turnaround a few years back—has a lot on his plate. As consumers seek healthier choices, same-store sales have slumped, and Q1 net income plunged 33 percent. This, as the Children’s Advertising Review Unit this month smacked the chain for ads focusing on toys more than food in Happy Meals. “No business or brand has a divine right to succeed,” Easterbrook, 47, said as he initiated restructuring to try to save $300 million annually. “I will not shy away from the urgent need to reset this business.” Still, McDonald’s was named Marketer of the Year at last year’s Cannes Lions festival.
27. Bobby Kotick
CEO, president, Activision Blizzard
Revenue: $4.4 billion
Diversification’s been the key to Kotick, 52, forging new revenue streams, as he continually updates franchises like Call of Duty (its Advanced Warfare extension was last year’s top-selling video game), World of Warcraft and Skylanders to keep eyeballs glued to the action and dollars rolling in. And in the physical world, Kotick is founder and co-chairman of the Call of Duty Endowment, which helped place over 10,000 veterans in jobs.
28. Roger Goodell
Commissioner, National Football League
Revenue: $12 billion
Employees: 1,000 (excluding teams)
Running what was dubbed “the last totem of American mass culture” by Bloomberg won’t get any less taxing once the NFL punts away its exempt status and starts filing returns with the IRS next year. Goodell, 56, has drawn flags for his handling of issues like domestic violence, player concussions and “Deflategate.” Conversely, adland’s showcase, the Super Bowl, drew 114.5 million viewers in 2015, making it the most watched televised event ever.
29. Ivan Menezes
Revenue: $16 billion
Menezes, 55, is mulling the divestment of wine operations, which make up about 5 percent of total sales at the British spirits giant, best known for Baileys, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness (Clio Advertiser of the Year for 2014). Of late, the company’s North American performance has helped offset weakness elsewhere, particularly in China, where “anti-extravagance” laws have hurt sales.
30. Maurice Lévy
CEO, Publicis Groupe
Revenue: $9.6 billion
The marriage between Publicis and Omnicom was never consummated. Instead, Lévy, 73, surprised observers by spending $3.7 billion to acquire digital marketing firm Sapient, adding to a portfolio that also includes Leo Burnett, ZenithOptimedia and Saatchi & Saatchi. The impact of Sapient and other recent acquisitions helped boost the company’s revenue 32 percent in the first quarter.
31. Satya Nadella
Revenue: $86.8 billion
Even as he’s tried to make Microsoft more nimble and mobile-focused, Nadella is probably best known by the general public for his controversial (read: regressive) remarks about women’s pay. Nadella bought Minecraft for $2.5 billion, which has served as a showcase for its HoloLens AR technology, and put the accent on personal empowerment. (Microsoft’s Apple-esque Super Bowl campaign—which showed the company’s technology improving the daily lives of average people—were a nod in that direction.) Retiring Internet Explorer, which had lost market share, was a move long overdue. IE’s successor, Edge, debuts this summer with Windows 10.
32. Rakesh Kapoor
CEO, Reckitt Benckiser
Revenue: $13.7 billion
A solid first quarter, driven by better-than-expected sales of health and hygiene products, indicates that Kapoor’s strategy to de-emphasize household goods in favor of consumer remedies is paying off. Analysts have suggested that Reckitt Benckiser should divest its home-products division in order to make progress toward that. Kapoor, 56, has made similar moves before, spinning off the company’s prescription-drug holdings last year into a new entity called Indivior.
33. Bon-Joon Koo
CEO, vice chairman, LG Electronics
Revenue: $55.9 billion
While competitors like Sony and Samsung struggle in the mobile space, LG’s smartphone sales continue to surge. With Koo, 63, at the helm, the company sold 15.4 million handsets in Q1, its best quarter ever, following a year in which revenue from mobile devices rose 16 percent—suggesting that LG has found the right formula. Meanwhile, in the slumping TV division, the picture is less clear.
34. Dick Costolo
Revenue: $1.4 billion
Bloomberg reports that Costolo’s “credibility is on the line” after Twitter missed its Q1 revenue target in April and trimmed its 2015 sales forecast. Costolo, 51, introduced new products and features, but they haven’t reversed the company’s decelerating user growth or sufficiently excited marketers. On the upside, Twitter surfaced as a force in live video streaming thanks to its acquisition of Periscope, which Fortune calls “a potential gold mine.”
35. Michael Bloomberg
CEO, president, founder, Bloomberg
Revenue: $8.5 billion (est.)
The Big Apple’s former three-term mayor—and, with a personal net worth of more than $35 billion, one of the world’s richest men—also controls a global business data and media services operation buoyed by subscriptions to his information terminals (more software than hardware these days). Bloomberg’s empire spans TV, radio, the Web and the magazine Bloomberg Businessweek. Still, that might not be all the news Hizzoner, 73, sees fit to print. Reports have him willing to shell out $5 billion for the beleaguered New York Times—twice the publisher’s worth.
36. Bernardo Hees
CEO, Kraft Heinz
Revenue: $28.9 billion (est., combined)
Employees: 47,000 (est., combined)
Hees, 45, is tasked with guiding the combined foods giant created by Heinz’s recent union with Kraft. “We all understand that change is never easy,” Hees has said, “and brings with it a lot of uncertainty and questions.” Employees are understandably apprehensive, given Hees cut 7,500 jobs and closed factories at Heinz in recent years, tough steps that helped improve the bottom line.
37. Philippe Dauman
CEO, president, Viacom (includes BET, MTV Networks, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures)
Revenue: $13.8 billion
A protégé of the company’s 91-year-old chairman Sumner Redstone, multiple media reports in recent weeks had Dauman, 61, having the keys to the kingdom snatched away—though Redstone flatly denies succession plans at Viacom and CBS are decided. After three years of largely flat revenue, Q2 earnings delivered higher revenue at its networks, despite advertising softness. A restructuring plan aims to save the company $350 million per year.
38. Reed Hastings
CEO, co-founder, Netflix
Revenue: $5.5 billion
The 54-year-old former U.S. Marine and Peace Corps volunteer is like a character out of a Hollywood movie, and he continues to rewrite the script for streaming entertainment. Originals like Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards helped Netflix add a record 4.9 million subscribers in Q1 (it’s got 62.3 million overall). As a result, Amazon, Hulu, AOL and Yahoo are all building out their own content offerings.
39. Greg Creed
CEO, Yum Brands (includes KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell)
Revenue: $13.3 billion
Employees: 1.5 million
Creed, 57, took over as CEO of the world’s No. 1 fast-food company in terms of total restaurants (more than 41,000) as the year began. He was elevated from CEO at Taco Bell after attracting millennials with the introduction of items like Doritos Locos Tacos and Cantina Bell, as well as a breakfast menu. But global sales for Yum have been essentially flat for three years running—so it will take all of Creed’s talents to get things cookin’ again.
40. Bernard Arnault
CEO, chairman, LVMH
Revenue: $34 billion
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s Arnault, the richest man in France, collects masterpieces—Picassos, Warhols—displayed at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, designed by Frank Gehry. He curates LVMH, the world’s largest provider of luxury goods, with equal élan. Riding a wave of U.S. demand, LVMH enjoyed 16 percent Q1 revenue growth, on strong sales of watches, jewelry and handbags.
41. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey Photo: Joe Pugliese/August
CEO, chairman, Harpo Productions, Oprah Winfrey Network
Employees: 10,000 (est.)
Though her “Queen of All Media” crown has been tarnished since her syndicated talk show ended its long run, Oprah, 61, remains a force owing to the magazine (a partnership with Hearst) that bears her name and the OWN cable network she co-owns with Discovery Communications. After its initial growing pains, OWN has seen some growth over the last three years, particularly among black viewers.
42. Lorenzo Delpani
CEO, president, Revlon
Revenue: $1.9 billion
Proclaiming that “the new mission of our brand is to inspire love,” Delpani, 46, last year launched a global marketing push at Revlon themed “Love Is On” in an effort to boost essentially flat sales and keep the cosmetics giant competitive in an increasingly crowded marketplace. As WWD has reported, things are looking simply beautiful for the company under Delpani’s leadership, with the company’s market value growing to nearly $1.8 billion from $1.2 billion from Nov. 1, 2013, to Nov. 1, 2014 (his first year as CEO), and topping $2 billion as of last month.
43. Tim Armstrong
CEO, chairman, AOL
Revenue: $2.5 billion
Armstrong, 43, rang in AOL’s 30th birthday by selling the company to Verizon for $4.4 billion. The executive will remain with the company after the deal closes, and has signaled he will intensify his focus on mobile and video. “We’ve made AOL as big as it can possibly be in today’s landscape,” Armstrong has said. “But if you look forward five years, you’re going to be in a space where there are going to be massive, global-scale networks, and there’s no better partner for us to go forward with than Verizon.”
44. Irwin Gotlieb
Chairman, GroupM (parent: WPP)
Revenue: $3.75 billion (est.)
Since GroupM launched 12 years ago, Gotlieb, 65, has helped build a powerhouse that ranks as the largest media agency group in the world, with $104 billion spent through holdings such as Maxus, MEC, MediaCom and Mindshare (up about 12 percent year over year). The group stresses diversification—from trading to strategy, data/analytics, entertainment and programmatic buying. Recent wins among GroupM agencies include Anheuser-Busch InBev, Mars, NBCU, Merck and Tiffany.
45. Randy Falco
CEO, president, Univision
Revenue: $2.9 billion
Employees: 4,500 (est.)
This former AOL and NBC exec has enjoyed considerable success in his four years running the nation’s premier Hispanic media company. Falco, 61, has upped Univision’s digital game, doubling revenue in that sector to $155 million last year, while launching TV networks like El Rey and Univision Deportes. Falco’s contract was recently renewed through January 2018.
46. Terry Lundgren
CEO, chairman, Macy’s (includes Bloomingdale’s)
Revenue: $28.1 billion
While other legacy retailers have struggled to keep pace in the Internet age—with many falling behind—Macy’s remains competitive, largely thanks to Lundgren, 63, positioning his stores primarily as fulfillment centers for orders placed online. In the process, he has effectively transformed Macy’s into a digital retailer in the model of Amazon, a strategy analysts say flailing brick-and-mortar operations should emulate to extend their shelf life. Macy’s was the recipient of a Grand Clio Image Award for 2014.
47. Michael Roth
CEO, president, chairman, Interpublic
Revenue: $7.5 billion
Interpublic Group of Companies, the smallest of the “big four” agency holding companies—parent of McCann, Lowe and FCB—is viewed as an acquisition target, and Elliott Management, which owns a 6.9 percent stake, continues to seek a deal. That could be a windfall for Roth, 69, who, per IPG’s annual meeting proxy statement, stands to make $42 million if the company changes hands. But who will buy?
48. Michael Corbat
Revenue: $76.9 billion
The bank’s annual meeting last month was notably tranquil—no passionate protests, at any rate—”a sign that at long last the embattled company is moving beyond a difficult recent history,” reports Crain’s New York Business. A few weeks earlier, under pressure to prove that Citi wouldn’t require a taxpayer bailout should the economy collapse, Corbat, 55, scored a major victory when Citi passed the Federal Reserve’s “stress test,” which compares capital vs. risky assets.
49. Warren Buffett
CEO, president, chairman, Berkshire Hathaway
Revenue: $194.7 billion
The “Oracle of Omaha” enters the twilight of his storied career with Berkshire owning 80 businesses—ranging from Duracell to Geico to Helzberg Diamonds—and its stock trading around $220,000 per share (that’s no typo), compared to $12 when his enterprise began. Buffett, 84, remains focused on the future, promising shareholders that “your company is the Gibraltar of American business and will remain so,” even after he’s gone.
50. Herbert Hainer
Revenue: $16.5 billion
Adidas is the No. 2 global sportswear maker, trailing Nike—though it recently fell to third behind Under Armour domestically. “Adidas has made many of the right moves,” says sports industry analyst Matt Powell, “but it will take some time for this to play out.” One such move under Hainer, 60, is its “Sport 15″ branding push, in which athletes impart hard-won wisdom to sports fans.
51. David Droga
David Droga Photo: Kevin Scanlon
Creative chairman, founder, Droga5
Revenue: $78 million (est.)
This intense, 46-year-old Aussie punches way above his weight owing to years of creative excellence, and now there’s talk of his creating ads for Hillary Clinton’s White House run. Droga’s domestic ops reign as Adweek’s U.S. Agency of the Year. Acclaimed campaigns for Mondelez and Reckitt Benckiser were trendsetters, while its Newcastle blitz crashed the Super Bowl with “refreshingly honest and hilarious online content,” earning Adweek’s nod as the best campaign of 2014.
52. Susan Wojcicki
Revenue: $4 billion (est.)
Google’s former ad chief championed the company’s $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube, and she became CEO in February 2014, broadcasting its brand-building mantra far and wide. Wojcicki, 46, introduced premium advertising on a large scale to leading brands while making stars of original content creators like Michelle Phan, Rosanna Pansino, Grace Helbig, Dude Perfect and Bethany Mota.
53. Doug McMillon
CEO, president, Walmart
Revenue: $485.7 billion
Employees: 2.2 million
McMillon, 48, took over in 2014 at the world’s largest retailer, which faces stiff challenges from online merchants and rival retailers—notably Costco. McMillon is largely focused on digital commerce. “The company appears to be shifting from a more traditional organizational structure, in part perhaps to get a better handle on its e-commerce and small-format operations,” says retail industry news site Retail Dive.
54. Shane Smith
CEO, co-founder, Vice Media
Revenue: $500 million (est.)
Smith, 45—named to Adweek’s Brand Genius roster in 2014—has managed to keep his youth-focused digital-media empire true to its ’90s punk-magazine roots while building a property that’s estimated to be worth $2.5 billion. There’s a millennial-focused TV channel in the works, part of a deal that saw A+E Networks invest $250 million in the company, with H2 rebranded as Vice.
55. Jack Ma
Chairman, founder, Alibaba Group
Revenue: $12.3 billion
Adweek’s reigning Hot List Media Visionary, Ma, 50, made headlines last year by leading e-commerce titan Alibaba in its IPO, the biggest ever at $25 billion. That filing cemented Ma’s standing as a global entrepreneur of the highest order. Last month, under pressure as the company’s stock slid from a high of $119 in November to about $85, Ma imposed a hiring freeze, a rare move for a Chinese firm. Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Ma.
56. Daryl Simm
CEO, chairman, Omnicom Media Group
Revenue: $3 billion (est.)
OMG controls nearly 15 percent of all global media spend, valued at $54.6 billion last year, a 10 percent increase. In recent months, Simm, 53, has seen his agencies win or retain business from Johnson & Johnson, Heinz, JCPenney, S.C. Johnson, SAP and Wells Fargo. OMG’s OMD unit won Adweek’s Global Media Agency of the Year prize in 2014, 2013 and 2011, with its PHD arm claiming the honor in 2012.
57. Paul Bulcke
Revenue: $100 billion
Bulcke’s steady style produced 4.5 percent organic growth last year, and he projects a similar increase this year. (In nonorganic terms, sales were essentially flat.) In tune with the times, Bulcke, 60, has been working to recast Nestlé as a nutrition, health and wellness company. While some of its portfolio (Lean Cuisine, Boost, Gerber baby care) fit the narrative, forging such an image will be heavy lifting with Chunky, Goobers and Bit-O-Honey also in the family.
58. Andrew Wilson
CEO, Electronic Arts
Revenue: $4.5 billion
Wilson, 40, did a winning job burnishing EA’s image, essentially transforming the company from one of the least liked among gamers to a solid hitmaker. Dragon Age: Inquisition ranked high in several game of the year lists, while platform penetration was strong, with EA claiming to be the top global publisher across PlayStation4 and Xbox One. EA should intensify as a force in November with the launch of Star Wars Battlefront.
59. John Bryant
CEO, president, Kellogg
Revenue: $14.6 billion
Do the woes of the world’s biggest cereal company make its CEO feel like he’s gotten up on the wrong side of bed? Like many of his peers, Bryant, 49, tried a nostalgia play last year to boost the brand, airing ’70s-style “Milk and Cereal” spots. It wasn’t enough to bring consumers to the table. After a slow 2014, Q1 sales and profit both dipped, though Bryant said results were better than expected.
60. David Zaslav
CEO, president, Discovery Communications (includes Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, TLC, Oprah Winfrey Network)
Revenue: $6.3 billion
Under Zaslav’s astute guidance—stressing program development and platform expansion—Discovery’s cable channels have leveraged their unique identities to fill consumer niches and satisfy advertisers. Zaslav, 55, has worked especially hard to expand the company’s footprint overseas, making key deals in Europe and South America to foster new revenue.
61. Tadashi Ishii
CEO, president, Dentsu
Revenue: $6.2 billion
After years of fits and starts, Ishii, 64, has built his Tokyo-based holding company—long an ad powerhouse in Asia—into a North American player through smart acquisitions like Carat and mcgarrybowen. Global growth continues to be key, fueling speculation that Dentsu might bid for rival IPG.
62. John Malone
Chairman, Liberty Media
Revenue: $4.5 billion
A couple of years back, Charter Communications—in which Malone, 74, is the largest shareholder—tried a hostile takeover of Time Warner Cable but failed. Now that the TWC-Comcast deal has fallen though, Malone is taking a kinder, gentler approach, reaching out to TWC chief Rob Marcus. Cablevision’s James Dolan has also expressed interest in TWC, but Malone’s seen as more likely to claim the prize.
63. Marissa Mayer
CEO, president, Yahoo
Revenue: $4.6 billion
As one of tech’s most prominent female execs, Mayer, 39, is always under intense scrutiny. Since moving from Google in 2012, her performance has been mixed. Mayer’s many acquisitions—Tumblr, Flurry, and Summly among them—have added key talent, technology and helped focus Yahoo on mobile moving forward. Still, Mayer gets dinged for failing to sufficiently remake the company into more than the sum of its parts.
64. Howard Schultz
CEO, chairman, Starbucks
Revenue: $16.45 billion
Schultz, 61, led a strong performance last year (11 percent global growth)—and 2015 has also been highly caffeinated, with a 2-for-1 stock split in April and news that a coffee delivery service will be tested in the second half. Schultz has been praised for his social responsibility efforts, too, but suffered a PR hiccup in March when the chain’s “Race Together” campaign, designed to spark dialogue about racism, got universally panned.
65. Steven Swartz
CEO, president, Hearst
Revenue: $10.3 billion
Swartz, 53, is trying to help the venerable media company think young—and make its mark in the burgeoning realm of digital video—with investments in Vice Media and AwesomenessTV. He formed Hearst Digital Studios for expanded content plays that leverage legacy media brands like Cosmopolitan.
66. Kevin Plank
Kevin Plank Photo: Martin Schoeller/August
CEO, chairman, founder, Under Armour
Revenue: $3 billion
“Plank’s personality is all over the brand,” says NPD Group analyst Matt Powell. “He has been able to do what no other executive has done: take on the big boys and win.” Plank, 42, a former University of Maryland football captain, is an aggressive, hard-charging corporate leader who has called all the right plays, guiding UA past Adidas into second place behind Nike in the U.S. sports apparel race. His brand also won the inaugural Clio Sports Brand Innovator Award in 2014.
67. Travis Kalanick
CEO, co-founder, Uber
Uber has changed the way consumers hop a ride, with many having come to view the app as indispensable. Still, Uber has hit some bumps in its short, successful life. Some drivers have been accused of attacking riders, its “brand ambassadors” have been chastised for allegedly attempting to sabotage rivals, and one exec was caught apparently plotting a smear campaign against journalists. Largely unfazed, Kalanick, 38, has maintained momentum—despite the wild ride.
68. Laura Desmond
CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group
Revenue: $1.6 billion (est.)
Desmond, 50, has grown SMG’s business more than 70 percent since taking the reins in 2008. Last year, $52.14 billion media dollars flowed through the Publicis-owned network, up 11 percent versus the prior year. The agency kept Samsung and added Brown Forman, Asics and Airbnb—but lost key assignments from Microsoft and AB-InBev. And now, Desmond has a challenge with key client Procter & Gamble in play.
69. Andrew Robertson
CEO, president, BBDO
Revenue: $2.5 billion
“Since he took over the leadership of BBDO, they have been the most successful big agency, creatively and businesswise,” says industry consultant Avi Dan. Robertson, 54, led the Omnicom-owned network to Adweek Global Agency of the Year honors in 2014 with a strong new-business performance—wins included American Family Insurance, CVS, SAP and Wells Fargo—and creative acclaim (a Grand Clio in the film category for Guinness’ “Sapeurs” commercial).
70. Oh-Hyun Kwon
CEO, vice chairman, Samsung Electronics
Revenue: $196 billion
Though the electronics giant under Kwon, 62, staged the world’s most famous selfie at last year’s Academy Awards and smartly tweaked its archrival Apple with its “Next Big Thing” campaign, its momentum in the smartphone sector appears to be on hold. The company has suffered from intense pressure in the mobile space from major players including Apple, as well as heightened competition on the low end. The company reported that Q1 net income was $4.3 billion, down 39 percent year over year, worse than analysts had anticipated.
71. Ken Powell
CEO, chairman, General Mills
Revenue: $17.9 billion
Powell, 60, just can’t catch a break. After a six-month slump, General Mills recently rallied with Q3 profits that beat Wall Street projections, thanks to the strength of the Nature Valley and Yoplait brands. And yet, recent headlines about the cereal and snack giant centered around the Texas grandmother who found a bag of cocaine inside a free sample of Nature Valley Granola Bars.
72. Elon Musk
CEO, chairman, co-founder, Tesla Motors; CEO, founder, SpaceX
Revenue: $3.2 billion (Tesla); N/A (SpaceX)
Employees: 10,000 (Tesla); 3,500 (SpaceX)
Musk’s impressive portfolio ranges from electric cars and space vehicles to energy services (he chairs Solar City) and digital payment systems (he co-founded PayPal). He raised eyebrows when he said Tesla probably wouldn’t be profitable until 2020, while he has been the subject of some embarrassing headlines over his reportedly harsh management style. Meanwhile, Musk’s ambition remains a road map for overachievers everywhere.
73. Michael White
CEO and president, DirecTV
Revenue: $33.3 billion
If AT&T’s $48.5 billion acquisition passes regulatory muster, soon DirecTV will be a unit of the telecom giant—which means almost immediate cost-cutting in both companies. But given the eleventh-hour scuttling of the Comcast Time Warner Cable deal and dragged-out hand-wringing in Washington, nothing’s certain. Subscriber growth quieted considerably in the last year but still grew by 90,000 subs in Q1. If the deal goes through, sub growth will focus on Latin America, where pay-TV penetration is below 50 percent. Also expect to see a rollout of mobile streaming options.
74. Harris Diamond
CEO, McCann Worldgroup
Revenue: $3 billion (est.)
McCann played the villain on Mad Men, but Diamond, 62, has been one of the good guys since he took control three years ago. Recent wins for the IPG group include Microsoft, Cigna and Reckitt Benckiser. Meanwhile, McCann Melbourne’s “Dumb Ways to Die” train safety initiative has become one of the most beloved and awarded campaigns of all time.
75. Kevin Systrom
CEO, co-founder, Instagram
Revenue: $700 million (est.)
Systrom’s unfiltered success appears primed to continue three years after Facebook bought the photo-sharing platform for $1 billion. Cowen & Co. projects 680 million users for the app and revenue of $5.8 billion by 2020. Systrom, 31, has made ads more flexible with video and carousel offerings and last month took another step toward e-commerce, allowing retailers to link to product pages from their Instagram promos.
76. Charlie Ergen
Chairman, co-founder, Dish Network
Revenue: $14.64 billion
Ergen, 62, helped transform Dish from something of an also-ran into a force to be reckoned with, the No. 2 satellite TV provider in the U.S. Yahoo recently broke the news that Dish is planning to become the only company to offer wireless voice, video and data services—following its scoring earlier this year half the spectrum licenses offered in a government auction. Still, the company’s controversial AutoHop ad-skipping feature has generated boycotts and legal challenges.
77. Troy Ruhanen
CEO, president, TBWA Worldwide
Revenue: $1.9 billion (est.)
Ruhanen, 47, is tasked with reigniting creative excellence across TBWA and guiding the network into a new era as Lee Clow, who forged the group’s reputation with years of work on Apple, steps back. Since his arrival last year, Ruhanen has named leaders for New York and Hong Kong, and TBWA has won several key assignments.
78. Nick Woodman
CEO, founder, GoPro
Revenue: $1.4 billion
Say cheese! Green cheese, that is. At 39, this ex-surfer dude is reportedly the highest paid U.S. chief executive, earning $285 million. Last year’s IPO raised $425 million, and his company’s ubiquitous cameras have entered the pop-culture lexicon. Not bad for a guy who had to move back home and reinvent himself after his first business failed and he lost $4 million of backers’ money.
79. Evan Spiegel
CEO, co-founder, Snapchat
Spiegel, 24, is working toward monetizing the messaging app, which is reportedly approaching 200 million monthly users. Since Snapchat began serving ads last fall, McDonald’s, Samsung, Macy’s and EA have used it, though some balk at spending $750,000 for a day of disappearing ads. Recently, the platform said it would unveil 10-second ads that cost two cents per view.
80. Bob Pittman
CEO, chairman, iHeartMedia
Revenue: $6.3 billion
Adweek’s inaugural Hot List Media Visionary in 2013, Pittman, 61, cemented his reputation as an innovator back in the ’80s when he led the team that launched MTV. More recently, he’s called radio “the last real-time, mass-market medium” and “America’s companion.” Pittman is extending the reach of the nation’s largest radio station owner by getting its business into connected cars and making efforts to boost the audio signal.
81. John Legere
CEO, president, T-Mobile U.S.A.
Revenue: $29.6 billion
T-Mobile’s Super Bowl spot —a faux PSA starring a self-mocking Kim Kardashian—embodied the hip, consumer-focused “Un-Carrier” positioning long-haired Legere, 56, has successfully forged for the brand, which claims to have passed Sprint as the No. 3 domestic wireless carrier. For the most part, he’s backed up the sizzle with steak, introducing pricing initiatives, business support and LTE network coverage expansion for a potential 35 million new customers.
82. Gracia Martore
CEO, president, Gannett
Revenue: $6 billion
This 30-year Gannett veteran is writing a new chapter at the 109-year-old media company, which is splitting into two separate publicly traded entities. Martore, 63, will lead Tegna, which houses the broadcast and digital assets (including 46 TV stations) while Robert Dickey will shepherd the publishing businesses (such as USA Today) under a newly formed company maintaining the Gannett name.
83. Brian McAndrews
CEO, president, chairman, Pandora Media
Revenue: $920.8 million
McAndrews, 55, joined Pandora in 2013 with the mandate to improve its relationship with musicians and grow the company’s ad business. Last year, ad revenue nearly doubled to $732.3 million. However, artists still complain they’re not receiving enough in royalties from the largest music-streaming service with more than 79 million U.S. monthly active users. Pandora says it provides more in-depth data than competitors, allowing artists to better connect with fans, and brands with consumers.
84. Ursula Burns
Ursula Burns Photo: Jake Chessum/Trunk Archive
CEO, chairman, Xerox
Revenue: $19.5 billion
The first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, Burns, 56, is tasked with duplicating the brand’s past success in an increasingly paperless world. She wisely refocused Xerox to provide business services—now nearly 60 percent of revenue.
85. Daniel Ek
CEO, founder, Spotify
Revenue: $1.5 billion-$2 billion (est.)
The exodus of Taylor Swift and other artists, peeved over royalty payments, made headlines. Still, Ek, 32, whose music-streaming service boasts 60 million active users, is working hard to build out the ad side of its business, and in recent days said it is getting into video, with Turner, ABC and Vice among its partners. Spotify’s pitch sounds sweet to brands owing to the app’s abilities that let marketers build narratives over time.
86. Kenneth Chenault
CEO, chairman, American Express
Revenue: $34.3 billion
Chenault, 63, continues to struggle against, as he puts it, “headwinds we’re confronting,” which have buffeted AmEx since the year began. Shares plunged in February after the credit- and charge-card giant ended its 16-year partnership with Costco, and JetBlue is also severing ties. Meanwhile, AmEx says it will cut 4,000 jobs to save costs.
87. James Dolan
CEO, president, Cablevision
Revenue: $6.5 billion
Now that Comcast won’t acquire Time Warner Cable, Dolan, 60, has put himself in the picture, seeking to create a regional cable powerhouse, in addition to assets like the New York Knicks and Radio City Music Hall. “Consolidation of the marketplace would provide a great deal of ingenuity and much more access to resources for the customers and lower prices. And I think it would be great business,” Dolan has said. If he makes a run at TWC, he’ll face competition from John Malone.
88. Brian Cornell
CEO, chairman, Target
Revenue: $72.6 billion
Cornell, 55, plans to restock with items appealing to young adults—craft beer, yogurt, granola—to revamp the massive retail brand. Target in 2014 struggled from the fallout over a huge credit-card data breach, only to start this year by announcing the closure of operations in Canada. In March, after seven months at the helm, Cornell unveiled a $2 billion cost-reduction plan that includes thousands of job cuts.
89. John Stumpf
CEO, president, chairman, Wells Fargo
Revenue: $84.3 billion
“Culture counts” is the bank’s credo, and to his credit, Stumpf, 61, has followed through in highly visible fashion. Its very first ad in a broad new campaign by BBDO prominently featured a lesbian couple adopting a deaf girl. Of course, other big advertisers, notably Mondelez, have traveled the social-issue route. Still the strategy feels refreshing, even bold, coming from the conservative banking sector.
90. Shantanu Narayen
CEO, president, Adobe
Revenue: $4.1 billion
Narayen, 51, kicked off 2015 by celebrating the 25th anniversary of Photoshop, running a colorful commercial, starring Aerosmith, during the Academy Awards. “Creative Cloud adoption outpaced expectations, and the acquisition of F