Hot in 2019: Top 10 trailblazers

A look back on the best of our industry in 2019.

Hot in 2019: Top 10 trailblazers

10 Magnus Djaba 

Global president, Saatchi & Saatchi

A low income is a huge hurdle to working in adland. To stop this from deterring diverse talent, Djaba increased the salaries for entry-level roles at Saatchi & Saatchi. While launching the new D&I award at the 2019 Campaign Big Awards he encouraged other leaders to do the same, in order to "break down barriers" to the industry and make adland a "level playing field".

9 Sarah Booth

Brand and marketing director, Ovo Energy

Booth is showing the industry how to walk the walk when it comes to championing sustainability. Just a few months into her role, she oversaw the brand’s strategic shift to becoming carbon-neutral, requiring its agencies to follow suit and comply with its new policies. From ditching traditonal out-of-home print advertising to restricting "unnecessary flights", Booth has put tangible actions in place to tackle climate change.

8 Phil Bartlett 

Managing director, CDM London 

Bartlett embodies the adage: "Men of quality don’t fear equality." Understanding the importance of senior male allies in the push for gender parity, he was the first man to join the Omniwomen UK + Allies committee. While supporting inclusivity as "the token man" on stage, he also drives change within Omnicom. He has created new models for flexible working, established equal paternity rights and is building a male task force to help continue his work. 

7 Charlie Craggs

Founder, Nail Transphobia

Craggs has been relentless in educating adland on why changing the toxic narrative surrounding the transgender community is so important. Raising awareness of the underrepresentation of trans people in the media landed her the only standing ovation at WACL Gather 2019, as she pointed out: "We were punchlines or punching bags." Off-stage, Craggs uses her social platforms to continue her activism, collaborating with global brands, such as ASOS, and donating up to 100% of the proceeds from the products to relevant charities. 

6 Ete Davies

Chief executive, Engine Creative

This is not the first year Davies has appeared on this list, and with good reason – he is a driving force in the pursuit of change. Davies, who encourages the hiring and retention of BAME talent in the creative industries via the organisation We Are Stripes, has now co-founded not-for-profit initiative CultureHeroes, to support diverse leadership. 

5 Tag Warner 

Chief executive, Gay Times

Taking the top role at Gay Times at just 24 years old, Warner’s meteoric rise to the top has been extraordinary. Under his tenure, the brand has notably become the most followed LGBT+ title on social media globally. Expanding the publication’s mission to amplify queer voices, Warner set up Amplifund to support media and activist organisations in parts of the world in which LGBT+ people face additional challenges, such as the Caribbean and South East Asia.

4 Mark Evans 

Managing director of marketing and digital, Direct Line

Not only is Evans the man behind Campaign’s Sprintathon, an event at which adland raised more than £100,000 for Stand Up To Cancer, he also tirelessly calls for greater neurodiversity in business. From featuring in Campaign to raise awareness of what is an "invisible" issue, to encouraging adland to rethink its recruitment methods, Evans is a force for change. 

3 Syl Saller 

Chief marketing officer, Diageo

"We can normalise gender equality with what we choose to show in our ads, and who we choose to make them," Saller said in a short Diageo film. And, putting her money where her mouth is, Saller wrote to all the drinks company’s agencies at the end of 2018 personally requesting statistics on the number of women in their creative leadership teams and overall management as well as information on their gender pay gap and asking about their plans to address gender imbalances in their businesses.

2 Jameela Jamil 

Founder, I Weigh

A revolution against shameful female representation has been sparked – and at its helm is actor and campaigner Jamil. The proud feminist victoriously won her crusade to regulate the social-media promotion of weight-loss products and cosmetic procedures, as Instagram rolled out new community guidelines covering such activity. Through her movement I Weigh, Jamil has been giving the middle finger to women being judged on "how little space they are taking up". All the while, she is using her position of power to fight for "radical inclusivity".

1 Martina Poulopati Gerhard

Global brand communications manager, Essity (Bodyform) 

Poulopati Gerhard has dedicated years to normalising menstrual blood and vaginas. When the "Blood normal" campaign initially met resistance, Poulopati Gerhard, her team and Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO decided to include the objections in the spot. It led to laws around depicting period blood on TV to be re-examined. The follow-up "Viva la vulva" wasn’t shy in depicting female genitalia in all its forms, complete with singing labia and an annotated chalkboard representation of a vagina. As Havas’ incoming chief creative officer, Vicki Maguire, put it: "2019 was unashamedly the year of the vag." Take a bow, Poulopati Gerhard.

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