The Lists 2020: Top 10 commercial chiefs

The best of the industry in 2020.

Top commercial chiefs: Patel, Nasr, Williams, Salmon, Williams, Carter, Kingori, Bush, Baughan, Stacey and Jacob
Top commercial chiefs: Patel, Nasr, Williams, Salmon, Williams, Carter, Kingori, Bush, Baughan, Stacey and Jacob

1 Rakesh Patel

Head of sales, UK and pan-EMEA, Spotify

Spotify became the first pure-play digital media business to win Sales Team of the Year at this year’s Media Week Awards, in no small measure because of Mancunian-born Patel’s charm and energy as a leader. Spotify’s ad sales have held up despite the lockdowns and Patel, a member of Media For All, has championed diversity at the audio streaming company and in the wider industry. His team has 23% BAME representation and is 63% female.

2 Dara Nasr

UK managing director, Twitter

Nasr continues to help Twitter punch at a heavyweight level in the UK, and he has built one of the most popular sales teams in UK media. Twitter was shortlisted for Media Week Sales Team of the Year for the third year in a row and was a leading voice in media during lockdown, through the launch of its “New Business As Usual” framework and setting strict internal work rules to protect the mental health of staff who are working remotely.

3 Kelly Williams

Managing director, commercial, ITV

After the TV market was “punched in the mouth” by the pandemic, ITV still managed to end 2020 with a strong story to tell. It won Media Week’s Grand Prix for the mental health awareness campaign “Britain get talking”, entered into eye-catching partnerships with Sony and Spotify, and led the “#clapforcarers” ritual of thanking NHS staff on Thursdays by suspending programming at 8pm. It was also nominated for Media Week’s Sales Team of the Year.

4 Matt Salmon

Outgoing (and interim) director of sales, Channel 4

An undersung and highly capable Channel 4 insider who stepped up as an interim sales chief just before lockdown and led the 4Sales team to a very strong showing in the battle for the Media Week Awards’ Sales Team of the Year. Salmon pushed more flexible advanced-booking deadlines, signed an ad tech partnership with The Trade Desk and launched branded entertainment unit 4Studio. He is leaving at the end of 2020 following a handover period with former PHD UK boss Verica Djurdjevic, who joined as chief revenue officer in November.

5 Dominic Williams

Executive director, advertising, Mail Metro Media

The leader of the Daily Mail owner’s sales operation won Commercial Team of the Year for consumer media at this year’s Campaign Publishing Awards for its performance before Covid and was a finalist for Sales Team of the Year at the Media Week Awards for the second year running. Williams, a former trader at Dentsu, has brought openness to Mail Metro Media and won a reputation for being collaborative and innovative along with fellow executive director Grant Woodthorpe.

6 Dominic Carter

Group chief commercial officer, News UK

Carter led some significant moves by News UK this year, most notably a new digital audio advertising platform between radio arm Wireless and Bauer to take on Global’s Dax. The business also launched Times Radio as a vehicle for driving the news brand’s digital subscriptions (it has no spot advertising). Carter leads a diversity drive at the parent company of The Sun and The Times and became a board trustee at Nabs this year. 

7 Vanessa Kingori

Publishing director, British Vogue

Kingori has become one of the most influential voices in media, in partnership with Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, following their double appointment in 2017. She has modernised the Vogue sales team and starred on the cover of Campaign’s diversity issue in February. Since then, she has co-ordinated the #ShareTheMicUK campaign, taken charge of Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram account for Black History Month and launched a joint scholarship with BMW, as part of Vogue’s Forces for Change campaign, to identify the industry’s next generation of leaders.

8 Matt Bush

Managing director of agencies and partners, Google UK

Just as Bush had begun to take his video interview series “Think With Google” to a new level with live events in January, Covid-19 struck. He is an important link between agencies and the UK’s biggest media owner and his hands-on, streetwise skills have been in need this year after some big performance clients in travel and gaming slashed spend.

9 Nick Baughan

Director of agencies, UK and Ireland, Facebook

Baughan, a veteran of Maxus and Essence, knows how to deal with agencies and has emerged as a candid and proactive spokesman for the social media behemoth. He has been willing to answer tough questions from the industry – for example, over the global advertiser boycott in July in the wake of Black Lives Matter and questions over racist content and hate speech.

10 Karen Stacey and Kathryn Jacob

Chief executives, Digital Cinema Media and Pearl & Dean

The heads of the two rival cinema ad sales houses have won a place on the list for their efforts at collaboration in a year when revenues collapsed during an unprecedented economic shutdown. The pair teamed up to write several joint articles for Campaign in the past 12 months and they presented together to agencies, including MediaCom and Goodstuff, about the enduring power of cinema during lockdown. Jacob is also chair of a cross-industry inclusion group to improve diversity and co-author of a book on a similar theme, Belonging.

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