The CMOs to watch in 2020

  • As the pandemic speeds up the transformation of the advertising industry, a new crop of marketers are leading change at their companies and in the ad industry through data-driven marketing and breakthrough creative campaigns.
  • They are also meeting new challenges posed by the pandemic.
  • Here's Business Insider's second annual ranking of the chief marketing officers to watch.
  • Subscribe to Business Insider to read the full story.

The coronavirus has sped up the radical transformation of the advertising industry — but a new crop of marketers is rising to the occasion.

For the second year in a row, Business Insider has identified the chief marketing officers to watch. Our list recognizes the up-and-comers rethinking the status quo and reshaping marketing at established brands like Starbucks and Lowe's and challenger brands like Poshmark and TikTok.

Separate from our annual compilation of the 25 most innovative chief marketing officers, these executives are either first-time marketing chiefs or ones who've stepped into top marketing roles recently. They're affecting change at their companies and in the industry through data-driven marketing or breakthrough creative campaigns. They're also meeting the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic by changing their campaigns and strategies.

We relied on our own reporting and nearly 40 nominations from readers to narrow in on the finalists. We chose them based on their experience and the changes they've implemented, depending on how long they've been in their roles, and their impact on company performance and their industry.

Scroll on to see this year's 25 chief marketing officers to watch, listed in alphabetical order.

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, vice president of marketing, DoorDash

Amoo-Gottfried is guiding the company's marketing at a critical time, with food-delivery orders surging during the pandemic and DoorDash angling to go public.

He's orchestrated ad campaigns from "Every Flavor Welcome," which pitched DoorDash as a place to enjoy the diversity of America's cuisines, to "Open for Delivery," a call to action to support restaurants through the coronavirus crisis. 

These helped bolster the company's market share from 31% to 46% over the past year, according to data from the analytics firm Second Measure.

Before DoorDash, Amoo-Gottfried had marketing stints at Facebook, FCB, Bacardi, Wieden and Kennedy, and Leo Burnett.

Brady Brewer, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Starbucks

A nearly 20-year veteran of Starbucks, Brewer was promoted to chief marketing officer from vice president of digital customer experience in February.

Brewer's experience at the company leading digital customer experience, including pickup, delivery, product discovery, and the Starbucks app, will prove essential as the coffee chain ramps up its digital-ordering and delivery efforts.

It'll also fall to him to help Starbucks face headwinds, with same store sales expected to fall 10 to 20% in 2020. The company has made it easier for loyalty-program members to pay for drinks and accelerated its marketing as stores reopen across the country.

Christina Clarke, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Wingstop

While most other restaurant chains saw a slump in sales amid the pandemic, Wingstop's second quarter of this year was its biggest since going public in 2015 — with 31% growth in same-store sales and 63.7% growth in digital sales year over year.

Under Clarke, the chicken-wing chain shifted from sports marketing to platforms like Hulu and Twitch, pushed online delivery through channels like DoorDash and its own app, and celebrated the made-up holiday National Chicken Wing Day with a global concert in the face of the pandemic.

Over the past year, the former Pepsi exec also oversaw the launch of the new tagline, "Where Flavor Gets Its Wings," paid loyal fans to be walking ads for the brand, and increased the company's franchisee ad fund contribution from 3 to 4%, driving a 25% ad revenue increase.

Ellie Doty, chief marketing officer, Burger King North America

With Burger King known for its witty and zeitgeist-hitting campaigns in recent years, Doty has a high bar to surmount, especially as its sales have taken a hit during the pandemic.

Since she took charge in June, she has risen to the challenge, rolling out campaigns like "Christmas in July," which tried to cheer up consumers in a difficult year by letting them "unwrap" a two for $5 deal, and a video that explained the negative environmental impact of cow farts to promote a new Whopper sourced from cows that are fed a diet designed to lower their methane emissions.

Before Burger King, Doty was the chief marketing officer for Chili's Grill and Bar and served in senior marketing roles at Yum Brands chains including Long John Silver's, Taco Bell, and KFC.

Heather Freeland, vice president of marketing, Lyft

Freeland officially took the marketing reins in April after joining Lyft in March 2019.

Under her leadership, Lyft launched transportation-access program "LyftUp," working with LeBron James and his company Uninterrupted to expand bike-share access and equity across the country.

She has also expanded its original-content series "Undercover Lyft," which most recently featured Alicia Keys, and Lyft Pink, a loyalty program that allows riders to collect and use points at companies like Hilton, Delta, and JPMorgan Chase.

When the pandemic struck, Freeland's team shifted its focus to health and safety programming, including safety-tip videos in multiple languages and a new Health Safety Program for riders and drivers.

Leslie Gillin, chief marketing officer, JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase named Gillin as its chief marketing officer in January to succeed Kristin Lemkau.

Her team helped students celebrate graduation under lockdown with a virtual celebration featuring former President Barack Obama and the tennis star Serena Williams called #ShowMeYourWalk. It also condemned racism in messages, including one on a large billboard in New York's Times Square.

JPMorgan Chase also went all in on paid media and advertising at the US Open this year because of people's big hunger for live sports.

Gillin's 25-year career has spanned marketing, product, and business-development roles at Citi, Bank of America, and MBNA. Before joining Chase three years ago, she was the chief marketing officer of Citi's Global Consumer Bank.

Deborah Hyun, vice president of global marketing, Headspace

Meditation apps like Headspace have skyrocketed in popularity amid the pandemic. Hyun, a former Uber exec, has met the demand spike by adjusting its communications and creating new programs to cater to its audience.

Hyun worked with key state and county government officials like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's staff to give healthcare workers free access to its app.

That has now evolved into an initiative called "Headspace Promise," which provides mental-health resources to people in need, starting with free subscriptions for people who are unemployed.

Under Hyun, Headspace has also begun creating meditation collections that speak to the times, such as "Weathering the Storm" and "Living Through Unemployment."

Stuart Kronauge, chief marketing officer, Beyond Meat

More people are buying plant-based foods than ever before, and Kronauge, who joined Beyond Meat in January, is helping it capitalize on the trend.

Her appointment comes as the company looks to boost its presence across retail, restaurants and e-commerce, and differentiate itself from competitors like Impossible Foods. 

Before Beyond Meat, Kronauge spent 20 years at the Coca-Cola Co., where she was credited with driving sales of products like Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Fanta.

Steve Lesnard, chief marketing officer and global vice president of product creation, The North Face

Lesnard made the old-school outdoor-apparel brand cool by dabbling in "retro" heritage collections, partnering with influencers and organizations like Girl Scouts of America, and reinventing how waterproof clothes are produced and marketed. Under Lesnard, it also took a stand against Facebook in a boycott over its handling of controversial information.

With the former Nike exec on the job, The North Face also rolled out a new line of rain gear, Futurelight, that contributed to a 300% increase in waterproof-apparel revenue for the brand, versus comparable products sold last year.

Eduardo Luz, chief brand and concept officer, Panera

Luz joined Panera Bread in May, just as it was adapting its business to the pandemic, adding  grocery staples to prepared-food delivery, curbside pickup, meal kits, and "dark kitchens," also known as ghost kitchens, which sell meals for delivery only.

One of Luz's first initiatives was the #FREECOFFEE4SUMMER promotion, which touted Panera's unlimited-coffee subscription service that launched in February.

He also led digital partnerships with Apple and Google, teaming up with Google for delivery and pickups and offering people unlimited 3% cash-back rewards when they use the Apple Card to shop at Panera.

Luz was most recently the chief executive at the health-supplement brand 8Greens and spent six years at Kraft Heinz as its US chief marketing officer and global brand officer before that.

Alistair Macrow, senior vice president and global chief marketing officer, McDonald's

Macrow took on the role of McDonald's chief marketing officer in June amid a series of corporate scandals at the fast-food giant and questions about its culture.

He led McDonald's growth in the UK with new menu items and bold ad campaigns that debunked myths about McDonald's food. In his new position, he'll play a key role in developing training programs and career-planning processes for the brand as it seeks to develop the next generation of chief marketing officers.

Macrow replaced Colin Mitchell, the senior vice president of global marketing who had been leading McDonald's marketing team on an interim basis.

Sonika Malhotra, cofounder and global brand director, Love Beauty and Planet (Unilever)

Malhotra is the force behind the natural and sustainable beauty and skin-care products Love Beauty and Planet, which has become one of Unilever's fastest-growing lines, with $100 million in sales since its launch three years ago, while bolstering its sustainability agenda.

Under the 13-year Unilever vet, the brand has also launched direct-to-consumer products and run print ads that can double up as gift wrap during the holidays.

During the pandemic, the brand focused on service by producing content on hygiene and upcycling and donated to organizations like the NAACP's Environment and Climate Justice Program.

Kory Marchisotto, chief marketing officer, E.L.F. Beauty

E.L.F. Beauty changed the makeup category by pumping out low-priced products at a fast clip until growth started to stall in recent years. Marchisotto has put the company back on track — helping it deliver net sales growth of 8% to $65 million in the first quarter of 2020 versus a year ago, its sixth consecutive quarter of growth.

The beauty vet and first-time chief marketing officer led a digitally focused rebrand and marketing strategy that included unlikely partnerships, like a burrito-inspired prom collection with Chipotle.

E.L.F. also was early in jumping on TikTok, with the viral #eyeslipsface challenge. It has since used the platform to launch everything from a reality show to partnerships with influencers like Avani Gregg, yielding a six to eight times sales lift for products like bite-size eyeshadow palettes and lip exfoliators, according to the company.

Marchisotto's latest focus is expanding the brand's portfolio through incubation and strategic extensions. She was recently named president of Alicia Keys' new E.L.F. beauty brand, which is set to launch in 2021. 

Nathan Roth, chief marketing officer, Hinge

Online dating has also soared during the pandemic, and Hinge is well-positioned to take advantage of this surge under Roth, who has led the dating app's marketing since 2018.

Roth helped the Match Group-owned Hinge stand out among a sea of dating apps with its 2019 rebrand around the tagline, "Designed to be deleted," making it the fastest-growing dating app in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Roth's team produced two dating-themed podcasts, a limited-edition e-commerce shop, and a research group called Hinge Labs that delves into the behaviors of successful daters.

During the pandemic, the company's marketing team rolled out a new video-dating feature, advice on how to date while being physically distant, and images of popular date spots that could be used as backgrounds for digital dates on the platform.

Bozoma Saint John, chief marketing officer, Netflix

Saint John was named chief marketing officer of Netflix in June. She comes to the company at a time when it needs to convince people to keep subscribing as competitors like HBO and Disney launch competing options.

With a two-decade-long career spanning marketing roles at Pepsi, Apple, Uber, and Endeavor, she is known for taking an unconventional path in her marketing career and going with her gut over data while tying brands like Pepsi and Apple to cultural trends.

David Schriber, chief marketing officer, MasterClass

MasterClass is one of the companies that's benefited from people spending more time indoors because of the pandemic, with demand increasing tenfold in recent weeks versus a year ago.

Schriber and his 50-person marketing team has set MasterClass apart with its ubiquitous ads featuring experts like Judy Blume and Gordon Ramsay.

Under the Nike vet, the company has gone beyond the digital-ad playbook typical of startups with "How to Be a Boss," an outdoor campaign featuring Anna Wintour and the TV campaign "Today's the Day," which encouraged people to start learning something they've always wanted to.

MasterClass recently raised $100 million in a new investment round led by Fidelity Management & Research Co.

Patrick Schwing, chief marketing officer, Arby's

Schwing, a 16-year Procter & Gamble vet, was named Arby's chief marketing officer in March as mobile ordering, payment, and delivery became key to the restaurant industry.

Under him, the fast-food chain has moved on from its age-old tagline, "We have the meats," and started marketing other items like chicken sandwiches and wraps instead. It's also been pushing drive-thru and delivery after a brief advertising pause during the pandemic.

Schwing has worked across P&G's portfolio, including Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, and, most recently, Oral-B.

Doug Scott, chief marketing officer, Twitch

Livestreaming has been booming during the pandemic, and Twitch leads the pack — with hours watched on the livestreaming platform jumping 50% between March and April and a whopping 101% year over year. 

Scott, a former Zynga and EA marketing exec, is making sure Twitch seizes the opportunity by broadening its appeal beyond gamers and branching out to new verticals like music, arts, and education. 

He also led Twitch Stream Aid, a star-studded fundraising concert featuring musicians like Sting and Charlie Puth streaming live on Twitch. It raised over $2.7 million for the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

All this has helped Twitch add what the company said was "hundreds of thousands of new broadcasters" in 2020, totaling 4 million active monthly broadcasters. His efforts have also contributed to nongaming content on Twitch quadrupling over the past three years.

Ryan Scott, chief marketing officer, Etsy

Just over a year since he joined Etsy in June 2019, Scott has helped improve the experience for buyers and sellers on the e-commerce marketplace.

He launched ads on TV, digital platforms, and in influencer partnerships, and made it easier to target shoppers with personalized content.

Under him, the company has also made it easier for sellers to create ads and run them on other platforms like Instagram, with new marketing tools like Etsy Ads and Offsite Ads.

Etsy also ran a huge marketing push during the pandemic called #StandWithSmall that encouraged shoppers to support small businesses in need. The initiative added 12 million new buyers to Etsy in the second quarter of 2020 versus 19 million in all of 2019, growing active buyers on the platform 39% to 60 million, and repeat buyers 51% to 26 million versus 2019, according to the company.

Patrizio Spagnoletto, senior vice president and head of marketing, Hulu

Spagnoletto succeeded former Chief Marketing Officer Kelly Campbell in spring after she became president of Hulu, and his first order of business was to adapt Hulu's longstanding sports campaign "Hulu Sellouts," where athletes tout live sports on the platform, to the pandemic, which his team did by using body doubles and visual effects post-production.

Before his new role, Spagnoletto was Hulu's senior vice president of subscriber growth, helping the streaming service reach 35.5 million paid subscribers as of June. In that role, he also led Hulu's recent launch of a prepaid plan for its ad-supported-plan subscribers and its partnership with Verizon to include the Disney bundle in select wireless plans.

Jesse Stollak, chief marketing officer, Converse

Stollak has been trying to bring Converse's sales back from a recent slump by boosting its retro appeal.

While many marketers slashed their spending when the pandemic hit, the Nike-owned Converse stayed the course. Stollak's crowdsourced campaign "Create At Home" celebrated people's creativity while they're stuck at home.

More recently, the longtime Nike exec helped Converse sign NBA star Draymond Green to a multiyear multimillion-dollar contract.

Marisa Thalberg, chief brand and marketing officer, Lowe's

Thalberg relied on uplifting messages while marketing Taco Bell, and she's brought the same tact to her new job at Lowe's, with new pandemic-suited campaigns such as "Home Unites Us," #BuildThanks, and "Summer is Open" that express gratitude for homes.

The exec has also forged partnerships, such as a collaboration with Netflix's Bobby Berk, a donation program with Uber, and most recently with New York Fashion Week, having designers including Jason Wu, Rebecca Minkoff, and Christian Siriano feature Lowe's home products in their backdrops.

She's also helped the company benefit from the surge in home projects amid the pandemic. It saw same-store sales growth of 35% in US home improvement and 135% growth in website sales in the second quarter year over year.

Thalberg was also named to Business Insider's 2019 most innovative chief marketing officers list.

Nick Tran, head of global marketing, TikTok

Since TikTok came to the US in 2018, it has found an energetic and growing base of as many as 80 million users. But the social app needs to grow its user base beyond Gen Z, while differentiating itself from other social-media platforms like Instagram, which recently launched a TikTok clone called Reels.

Tran, who joined TikTok from Hulu in April, just led the app through its biggest advertising push — even though the company is involved in an ongoing legal battle with the US government over the future of its US operations.

At Hulu, Tran's team worked on a campaign called "Better Ruins Everything," where celebrities playfully warned customers not to get Hulu, lest they ruin traditional television forever. Previously, he had stints at Samsung, Taco Bell, and the apparel startup Stance Socks.

Dara Treseder, senior vice president and head of global marketing, Peloton

Treseder helped make the 3D printing and manufacturing company Carbon more visible to a wider audience. At Peloton, she has quite a different remit — to help the buzzy fitness company maintain its branding as it expands its membership and international footprint and avoid gaffes like the company's much-ridiculed December ad that showed a woman documenting a yearlong selfie journey after her partner gave her a Peloton.

The former GE marketing exec was named to the position after Carolyn Tisch Blodgett, the former head of global marketing, stepped down in May.

Treseder was also featured on Business Insider's 2020 most innovative chief marketing officers list in June.

Steven Tristan Young, chief marketing officer, Poshmark

Poshmark is among a new crop of companies that's revolutionizing retail by using technology to make reselling easier. Since he began leading the marketing for the hot clothing-resale app in 2018, Young has spearheaded initiatives like reselling home goods, grown its audience of buyers and sellers, expanded its advertising to TV and new channels like TikTok, and helped the company move into countries like Canada.

Most recently, the first-time chief marketing officer has developed a community tool kit to help people make extra cash on the platform during the pandemic and launched Posh Stories in April, a feature that allows people to create shoppable videos in the app and seeks to meet people's desire for connectivity during social distancing and quarantining.

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Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.

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