Ad Age 2022 Marketers of the Year

Walmart leads our annual list of the best marketers of the year

In a year marked by economic anxiety, the best-performing brands calmly persevered—and even thrived—amid rising inflation and consumer spending pullbacks. Ad Age’s 2022 Marketers of the Year highlights some of the marketers that rose to the top, while offering marketing lessons for building consumer loyalty and breaking through into pop culture in tumultuous times.

The list is topped by Walmart, which beat even the most discount-focused competition with relentless marketing and merchandising innovation. McDonald’s gave a master class on how to permeate pop culture, while playing to its strengths and putting a new twist on the classics, such as marketing Happy Meals to adults. Mastercard showed how sound, taste and smell can be a vital part of the marketing mix, while Airbnb evolved to become a first stop for travel planning, rather than an afterthought.

The list was chosen by a team of Ad Age reporters and editors based on factors that include business results driven by breakthrough advertising and smart strategic thinking.

Read on for more lessons, including from United, which showed how purpose marketing can be more than a buzzword; and Liquid Death, whose unorthodox branding is an inspiration to agencies and marketers alike. To quote Lizzo, who also made the list, these companies had a 2022 that was good as hell.

Web production by Corey Holmes.