The Lists 2020: Top 10 marketers

The best of the industry in 2020.

Top marketers: Bellini, Bennison, Santos, Aiken, K Evans, Anthony, Braun, Given, M Evans and Farren
Top marketers: Bellini, Bennison, Santos, Aiken, K Evans, Anthony, Braun, Given, M Evans and Farren

1 Alessandra Bellini

Chief customer officer, Tesco

Bellini has steered her brand through this tough year with aplomb, reacting quickly to Covid-19 with an ad explaining social distancing and a reworked “Food love stories” effort. Tesco’s turnaround story also picked up the IPA Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix. When asked by Campaign earlier this year to name a marketer she admires, it was a nice touch that Bellini congratulated “all of my colleagues in grocery retail who have experienced the same disruption and demands as we have in navigating this difficult period, and who have contributed brilliantly to the supermarket sector”.

2 Sara Bennison

Chief product and marketing officer, Nationwide 

When the pandemic hit, it’s testament to how much Nationwide trusts Bennison that it asked her to oversee its branches and contact centres. As part of the active stance it has taken against hate in recent years, the building society recently teamed up with ITV’s Loose Women for a campaign for Anti-Bullying Week. Bennison also scooped The Marketing Society’s Bravest Marketing Leader of the Year 2020 award.

3 Aline Santos

Executive vice-president global marketing, chief diversity and inclusion officer, Unilever

Santos’ tireless efforts on diversity and inclusion are reaping rewards. In March, the FMCG company reported it had achieved a 50/50 gender balance across global leadership. Turning to one of her favourite subjects, this year she penned a chapter for Facebook’s Build Brilliant Brands book on the relationship between profit and purpose and how brands can avoid “woke-washing”. But Santos also still finds time to have a laugh, posting an amusing video of herself on Twitter eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with a dollop of Marmite.

4 Alex Aiken

Executive director for communications, UK government

It has been a full-on year for Aiken who has barely had time to pause for breath as he has battled away on the comms challenges posed by Brexit and the coronavirus. He oversaw one of the biggest ever public health campaigns and continues to prep the country to get ready for life outside the EU. It is nice to know he was able to find some downtime to become an avid cyclist, taking long rides with his daughter over the summer once Covid restrictions had eased.

5 Katie Evans

Chief marketing officer, Burger King

While watching the shutters come down on some restaurants during lockdown will have been hard for Evans, she has had some cause for cheer. Burger King’s “The meltdown”, which encouraged children to donate unwanted plastic toys as the brand pledged to stop giving them away with its meals, picked up three D&AD Pencils. This summer, Evans had fun with AR, shrinking down Tinie for a virtual performance of his hit, Whoppa, on a Whopper.

6 Kemi Anthony

Marketing communications manager, Ikea

While it’s been a difficult time for the Ikea business, which, as a non-essential retailer, has had to shut during the lockdown, Anthony has still managed to oversee some standout marketing communications. Was there a more stylish way to teach consumers about the benefits of a good night’s sleep than the retailer’s “The tortoise and hare” ad? Probably, not. Her focus next year is sustainability, so it will be fascinating to see what emerges.

7 Benjamin Braun

Chief marketing officer, Samsung Europe

Braun, the chair of Campaign’s UK Agency of the Year Awards’ judging panel, has once again made thoughtful interventions on industry issues. A glance through his writing shows that – reassuringly for his agencies – he is still a believer in the big idea and creative disruption. Samsung’s “Missing masterpieces” virtual exhibition for its Frame TV, featuring lost and stolen art with the aim of helping to find the pieces, is a recent highlight for Braun.

8 Mark Given

Chief marketing officer, Sainsbury’s and Argos

Given received a well-earned promotion to the board this year from chief executive Simon Roberts, to ensure customers are front and centre in its thinking. Over the Covid crisis, Given has used Sainsbury’s mission “to feed the nation” as his North Star as the supermarket strove to make sure shoppers’ needs were served in trying times. He can also be proud of the Sainsbury’s and Argos Christmas ad spots, which both strike the right tone.

9 Mark Evans

Managing director of marketing, Direct Line Group

Evans took the big decision at the start of the year to kill off Direct Line’s Winston Wolfe character and introduce a superhero-laden ad, with the tagline “We’re on it”. When Covid struck, he changed this to “We’re on it to do the right thing” in an effort to highlight the insurance brand’s actions for its staff, customers and society. One of marketing’s nice guys, Evans nimbly took his Sprintathon charity event virtual and has been busy hosting online shows for the “School of Marketing” initiative, which he chairs.

10 Meghan Farren

Chief marketing officer, KFC 

When your brand is famous for having “Finger lickin’ good chicken”, a huge public health focus on hand hygiene is a bit of a bummer. What’s worse for Farren is that in February, KFC went live with a 60-second epic film of people licking their fingers only to have to pull it after a couple of weeks. In typical KFC manner, however, the chicken joint drew smiles with a spot mocking customers’ homemade fried chicken efforts.

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