Our 30 Marketing Superstars range in age from 29 to 57. They handle ad budgets of every size imaginable, from a creativity-stretching few hundred thousand dollars to Microsoft's $200 million worldwide blitz for Windows 95. Five are women, an increase over earlier years, but we'd like to see more.
Some of our Superstars have virtually created new product categories. Bass Beers' Jonathan Turner is aggressively marketing Hooper's Hooch, an alcohol and fruit drink blend considered an "alcopop," a word that didn't exist just a few years ago. Boris Buvinic at Bank of Santiago was one of the first marketers in Latin America to venture into co-branded affinity credit cards, an idea quickly copied by others.
Choosing was hard. Practically every country had one or more wildly successful mobile phone marketer, probably the hottest global product category right now. We looked for new ideas, selecting Mango, an Israeli mobile phone parents buy for their kids, and NTT's Personal Handy System, a cheaper, low-tech version of a mobile phone that has taken off in Japan.
For the first time we had candidates from Internet access providers, reflecting the Internet's huge leap in popularity over the past year. In many countries, however, demand is so great from people desperate to get on the Internet that signing them up may not be a true test of marketing skills-yet. Other products, like a nonalcoholic Israeli black beer called Black & Wild and a canned bread from Japan, were fascinating but show no signs of crossing borders.
We couldn't ignore the Gucci renaissance masterminded by Domenico De Sole. But there wasn't space to include Miuccia Prada and the other Italian luxury goods marketers who also are experiencing sensational international growth through new products and creative marketing.
Food is often considered to be more local than global, but almost half of our Superstars are focused on food (if vitamins and chewing gum count). Who wouldn't be interested in universal ideas like a cholesterol-lowering margarine developed in Finland or illycafe's Easy Serving Espresso?
More international ideas seem to come from London and Paris than anywhere else. London is often an early market for products that will cross Europe and other continents, while Paris is a key international center for beauty trends.
What was the biggest problem faced by our Marketing Superstars? In country after country, Ad Age International correspondents were told, "We just couldn't keep up with demand. We could have sold more." In any case, these individuals should have planned for stardom as well.