Hot in 2018: Top 10 marketers

Throughout December, we are revealing the best of our industry in 2018.

Hot in 2018: Top 10 marketers

10 Steve Challouma

Marketing director, Birds Eye

A Birds Eye employee for 20 years before he got the top job last year, Challouma’s big project has been relaunching the frozen-food brand’s Captain mascot earlier this year. The subtly younger, more modern-looking character has won public approval, increased brand awareness and helped turn around a sales decline.

9 Benjamin Braun

Marketing and digital director, Audi

As a columnist for Campaign, Braun is a dab hand at using nicely drawn allegories to illustrate those principles that marketers often find too easy to forget. Though he’s a fan of econometrics as a tool for justifying marketing spend, the high standard of Audi’s work under Braun’s stewardship proves this doesn’t come at the expense of creativity.

8 Syl Saller

Chief marketing and innovation officer, Diageo

As president of The Marketing Society and arguably the most powerful marketer in the global alcoholic drinks industry, Saller is a major advocate of embracing failure as a tool for learning. In February she signed up Diageo to Free the Bid, which requires that agency and production partners include at least one female director on all bids.

7 Darren Bentley

Chief customer officer, Moneysupermarket Group

Bentley made perhaps the boldest decision in UK marketing this year by parting ways with his brand’s acclaimed agency, Mother, in favour of WCRS (rebranding in 2019 to Engine). Arguing that great ads were no longer enough in a category with little consumer engagement, Bentley said Moneysupermarket needed to prioritise its proposition to consumers instead.

6 Sara Bennison

Chief marketing officer, Nationwide

Having noted that many of the poets and performers featured in Nationwide’s now two-year-old "Voices" campaign had been subjected to abuse and trolling, Bennison has become an enthusiastic voice in efforts to tackle the problem. She is calling for brands to actively confront users that post hate on their social channels.

5 Michele Oliver

Vice-president, marketing, Mars

After leading inclusivity-driving work for Maltesers, such as this year’s "Celebrating similarities", which features women rarely seen in advertising, Oliver was rewarded with a new global brand purpose role. Mars has also jointly founded The Lion’s Share, a campaign to encourage advertisers to support conservation efforts when they feature animals in their ads.

4 Craig Inglis and Martin George

Customer directors, John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners

As the flurry of opinions around this year’s John Lewis Christmas campaign with Elton John demonstrates, Inglis – chair of The Marketing Society – has the power to shape culture like no-one else in the business. But 2018’s big rebrand project, in which Waitrose and John Lewis worked closely together, means that, for once, George gets equal billing.

3 Shadi Halliwell

Chief marketing officer, Three

Since Halliwell joined last September, Three – which previously struggled to diff erentiate itself next to its rivals – has livened things up. First, there was its "hybrid animals" campaign, which included a series of Snapchat firsts, and then in October, it launched the frenetic and confrontational "Phones are good" campaign.

2 Mark Evans

Marketing director, Direct Line Group

As well as pursuing ideas full of technological innovation, Evans has emerged as a cheerleader for ensuring neurodiversity is valued alongside gender and ethnic diversity. He was voted The Marketing Society’s Marketing Leader of the Year, and also became chairman of Front Foot, the Advertising Association’s campaign for advertising.

1 Keith Weed

Chief marketing and communications officer, Unilever

Weed threw down the gauntlet in February as he moved the conversation on from transparency and measurement, saying Unilever would pull adspend from digital platforms that "create divisions in society". Weed was named the World Federation of Advertisers’ Global Marketer of the Year and became president of the Advertising Association in September. At the start of the month, he announced he is to retire in May 2019