Influence is often thought of as a sign of attraction, and marketing is a tool that is often used to gain attention. And yet, some do it better than the rest.
What is influence? We see the CMO’s role as the impact of their actions and words on the organization, both internally and externally. This includes their industry and the world at large. In addition to how the public sees a corporation’s brand, other factors that can influence public opinion include marketing strategies, current trends, financial stability, and how much of an impact the company has on society as a whole.
What does a CMO do?
The Chief Marketing Officer is responsible for leading a company’s marketing team and making decisions about branding and advertising. The most influential members of any organization’s c-suite team are arguably the ones who have the most say in decision-making. They’re responsible for developing brand awareness and customer experience. The people who create a brand’s messaging also control what we think and believe. They play a key role in shaping the internal direction of the company.
What features should a top marketers have?
The key features of top CMOs can be classed into the following key areas:
- A solid understanding of the consumer. Consumers are increasingly concerned about issues like climate change, the pandemic and inclusion. So CMOs need to communicate how brands fulfill their customers’ values, and not just how their product solves a problem.
- Leadership. The most influential CMOs aren’t afraid to champion good causes and speak up for minorities. They drive change both within their businesses and the wider society as a whole.
- A solid understanding of ever-changing digital marketing and tech trends. The top CMOs are constantly keeping up-to-date with the dynamic digital space. They proactively adapt to new trends to improve customer experience.
In no particular order, here are the top 10 most influential CMOs:
Ann Lewnes – Executive Vice President and CMO at Adobe
Ann has a lot of experience in the industry from her time at Adobe and Intel. In March 2020, Adobe launched “Honor Heroes” in response to the Covid-19 crisis. COMPANY X is looking for artists to create digital artwork honoring frontline workers as a tribute to their heroism. So far, the company has given away more than $3 million to charitable organizations to help with the worldwide response to the pandemic. At the start of the campaign, Ann commented that creativity has the power to bring us all together even in the most challenging times.
She was also responsible for the launch of free online classes to over 30 million students around the world. She helped create a system that would provide free education to anyone who wanted it. Ann’s goal is for Adobe to become a platform where people from minority backgrounds can express their creativity.
Since 2006, when she became Adobe’s CMO, Ann has been leading the brand’s transformation. Instead of focusing on what the company can do for its customers, they now focus on what their customers need and want. Adobe has shifted its focus to the customer and how its products can help solve their problems. In 2020, Adobe partnered with Lady Gaga to promote its ‘Chromatica’ campaign.
Antonio Lucio – Former Global Marketing Officer at Facebook
Antonio is known for being an advocate of diversity and inclusion. He was the CMO at HP and challenged their partner ad agencies to hire more workers from diverse backgrounds. He said that agencies should design their work with a diversity mindset right from the start.
He was responsible for Facebook’s reaction to the Stop Hate for Profit movement, which entailed taking white supremacists off the platform and introducing a labeling system for unverified information. In August 2020, he stepped down as Global CMO at Facebook to spend the next few years helping marketers with inclusion challenges.
He believes that marketers need to be more aware of the challenges that people of all types of backgrounds face in order to create more inclusive campaigns. He announced his departure on LinkedIn, saying that finding the right balance between preserving freedom of speech and eliminating hateful speech is a question that will define our generation. Antonio has previously worked as the Chief Marketing Officer at Visa, HP, and Pepsico.
At HP, Antonio was responsible for the brand’s move to a more emotionally charged message. At Facebook, he was responsible for leading “Never Lost” and “Born In Quarantine”, two of the company’s marketing campaigns relating to Covid-19.
Diego Scotti – Executive Vice President and CMO at Verizon
Diego’s resume includes management positions at Condé Nast, American Express, and most recently Verizon. He has been working hard on “Citizen Verizon”, the company’s sustainable business plan. It refers to an initiative by Verizon to spend $3 billion on economic, social and environmental causes, launched in 2020. The plan’s goal is to achieve zero carbon emissions within its operations by 2030 and provide skills training to 10 million young people across the globe.
Diego came up with the idea of a “challenger board,” which is a jury of colleagues from different parts of Verizon who are responsible for questioning and critiquing his ideas. In addition to creating the “AdFellows” program, he has also been working to bridge the gap in diversity and inclusion in the advertising and marketing industries.
Diego’s marketing strategy for Verizon includes a lot of cooperation with other people. He works with famous people and influencers. Under his leadership, Verizon has partnered with big names such as Selina Gomez and Enrique Iglesias to produce advertising campaigns.
Keith Weed – Former Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Unilever
Keith started out as an engineer in the 70s but switched to marketing in the early 80s when he joined Unilever. He is now in charge of the brand’s marketing operations and has been a key advocate for diversity. He created the #unstereotype campaign after he discovered that gender stereotypes were present in more than half of all advertisements. Unilever conducted a study of 1000 promotions and found that female stereotypes were often used. As a result, Unilever has phased out the use of such stereotypes in its advertising. It’s hoped other brands will follow Unilever’s lead. Keith is also a big fan of sustainable living, and over half of Unilever’s brands are now sustainable.
Under Keith’s leadership, Unilever adopted the “Brands with Purpose” strategy. Researchers found that businesses that have strong messaging about the causes they support grow up to 70% more than those without. The company is now working hard to make sure all of its brands are socially and environmentally responsible. In the 21st century, Keith believes that corporations will need to be more responsible in order to grow.
Linda Boff – General Electric Chief Marketing Officer
Linda is a successful marketing leader who is based in New York. She has led GE in creating a new image for the company, transforming it from an outdated 124-year-old business to something more modern and innovative, like a start-up company in Silicon Valley. Under her leadership, GE has gained popularity for their podcasts. The storytelling in “The Message” was so effective that many fans didn’t even notice it was advertising. The podcast even made it to number 1 on the iTunes chart.
She started “Next Engineers” earlier this year with the goal of getting more young people of diverse backgrounds into engineering. Linda believes that we need a diverse group of people with different talents to take on the biggest challenges facing society this century.
Linda has made digital innovation a priority for GE’s transformation. She focuses on creating a marketing strategy that is integrated with the company’s overall objectives and goals, while also incorporating creativity and data-driven insights. She refers to “content, design, and technology” as the three pillars of her strategy.
Bozoma Saint John – Chief Marketing Officer, Netflix
The majority of chief marketing officers have personal brands that are commonly associated with the organization they are employed by. Bozoma Saint John’s work goes beyond Netflix, where she became CMO a little more than a year ago. In her first year at the streaming giant, she has been responsible for a variety of creative campaigns, including a stunt for the premier of the series Money Heist. For this particular event, the company cut off fans from the internet to prevent them from sharing spoilers.
Before Saint John joined the streaming service in 2020, they had previously been in charge of marketing at Endeavor, Uber, and Apple Music. She taught a class at Harvard Business School about the power of authenticity for a week in January. St. John has been an important figure in promoting diversity and equality. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the #sharethemicnow campaign from last summer where Glennon Doyle and other celebrities worked together to amplify Black voices on white women’s Instagram accounts. She will publish a memoir next year about how her husband’s death from cancer in 2013 changed her outlook on life and the struggles she faced afterward.
Stephanie McMahon – Chief Brand Officer, WWE
The only CMO with “professional wrestler” on her resume is Stephanie McMahon. She is an influential marketer not just in the WWE ring but far beyond it. Along with overseeing the creation of the bio-secure ThunderDome during the Covid-19 crisis, McMahon also helped drive fan engagement for live and streaming matches, navigated the return to in-person events in July and built one of the largest TikTok followings for a sports property.
McMahon has also led cross-company collaborations. To promote Netflix’s new Army of the Dead show, WWE staged a zombie invasion during one of their matches. The zombies circled the ring and became part of the show. The WWE recently partnered with Connor’s Cure and The V Foundation in order to raise money to help fight pediatric cancer. She has also assisted the Ad Council in its vaccine marketing by creating PSAs encouraging people to learn more about their options for receiving vaccinations.
Dara Treseder – Global Head of Marketing, Peloton
Treseder was born and raised in Nigeria and has worked as a marketing executive at Goldman Sachs, Apple and GE. In August 2020, she joined Peloton and quickly became successful, launching a partnership with Beyoncé and an ad campaign that featured customers’ stories. In recent months, Treseder has had to deal with more difficult situations as Peloton has recalled more than 125,000 treadmills following the death of a child. She has pledged that the company is refocusing its efforts on its “North Star” ideology which prioritizes the customer’s needs. Be You.” This past summer’s Olympics, Treseder and Peloton collaborated on a campaign that emphasized community over products: “It’s You. Be You.” That Makes Us.”
She told Forbes in July that the Olympics are not just about the people who perform– they play a huge role too– but it’s about everybody else. The people who made this event happen, the people who were cheering in the stands, the people watching on TV, and the people celebrating this momentous occasion where the world comes together are all feeling proud.
Raja Rajamannar – Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and President, Healthcare Business, MasterCard
When MasterCard debuted its “True Name” credit card last year, the company had a hard time finding bank partners who would allow trans and nonbinary customers to display their chosen names on credit cards. However, Raja Rajamannar continued with the product, which has since become very successful for MasterCard and for inclusive efforts that extend far beyond the brand itself. Rajamannar has been outspoken about the need to combat online hate speech and other issues facing internet platforms. He believes that advertisers have a responsibility to address these issues.
Since becoming MasterCard’s CMO in 2013, Rajamannar has been an advocate for new technologies and incorporating purpose-driven efforts into the company’s marketing and other areas. Rajamannar recently wrote a book called Quantum Marketing, which urges marketers to adopt a new mindset that allows them to more easily embrace new technologies and understand modern consumers.
Marc Pritchard – Chief Brand Officer, Procter & Gamble
As the chief marketer for one of the world’s largest advertisers, Marc Pritchard oversees P&G’s more than $10 billion ad spend. Pritchard is often considered a bellwether for the entire marketing industry on issues such as diversity and sustainability, measurement and brand safety, and creativity. Pritchard, who has been with the company for almost 40 years, is also the chairman of the board for the Association of National Advertisers and a current board member of the Ad Council.
P&G debuted a new platform in January at CES that allows people to meet virtually as avatars. A few months after that, the company introduced a new plan to improve the way Black people are shown in ads and to employ more diverse talent behind the scenes. In addition to creating products that are sustainable, P&G has also partnered with other companies to further sustainable practices. It collaborated with the NFL recently on a campaign for Tide to promote less water usage while laundry is being done.
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