Book of Tens 2011

Most Influential Players in Marketing (But Who's No. 1?)

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Ad Age has highlighted 10 who are making an outsize mark on marketing. But who wields the biggest influence on the business of media and marketing? We're letting subscribers decide. Check out the list below; then, to register your vote for which of our 10 you think is the industry's most influential, go to the poll. But note -- only Ad Age subscribers will be allowed to weigh in.

Sheryl Sandberg
Chief operating officer, Facebook

Sheryl Sandberg's set for her next IPO payday as Facebook preps a 2012 public offering (her first came at Google), but first she's got to lead it there. The COO of the largest social network heads up its ad-based business strategy, which has been made easier thanks to brands' rush for fans. Now comes the hard part: Scale Facebook as a publicly traded company.

Paul Polman
CEO, Unilever

He's shaken up management and beaten alma mater Procter & Gamble Co.on organic sales (up more than 7% the past two quarters) and stock price (up 12% year to date). Unilever is hiking prices amid sluggish consumer spending, and doing it more successfully than some rivals. But in 2012, Polman must deliver the margins and consistency investors love while hoping to restore the creativei honors Unilever was known for in the past but got less of this year.

Neal Mohan
VP-product management, Google

Neal Mohan is the mind behind everything Google has done in ad tech since it bought DoubleClick, and the architect of an ambitious plan to create one massive platform to power digital advertising. And as every channel goes digital, the endgame is much bigger than display ads. He's not alone in this vision, as plenty of companies from Adobe to Microsoft have similar ambitions, but he's got deep pockets and a bigger head start.

Ross Levinsohn
Exec VP-the Americas, Yahoo

If Google is all about automating the future of advertising, it'll have to get past Ross Levinsohn to do it. The Yahoo Americas chief has shaken up the online-ad ecosystem by demanding that data-driven third parties don't hijack the value chain. He's made some enemies along the way, but if it works, expect other publishers to take up the cause.

Bonnie Hammer
Chairman, NBCU Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios

The queen of cable has been lionized for her reworking of NBCUniversal's vaunted USA Network, a one-time grab-bag of wrestling, "Silk Stalkings" and cheap moviefests. You can see her operating influence spill into rival networks, such as FX and TNT, and in 2012 she has the opportunity to extend her MO further into Comcast. Hammer has been given aegis over E!, long a network obsessed with Hollywood, Chelsea Handler and the D-list.

Kalle Lasn
Founder, Adbusters

He doesn't own the Occupy movement, he just branded it. The Adbusters co-founder has railed against commercialism for years, attacking the very practice that is this publication's raison d'etre. But while he may not like marketing, it's clear he respects its powers -- his mission is to make memes that go viral. With Occupy Wall Street a legitimate global news story, it's clear he's pretty good at it, too.

Olivier Francois
Chief marketing officer, Chrysler Group

One of the industry's more demanding clients, Chrysler Chief Olivier Francois has been churning out award-winning work all year and, in the best spot of the Super Bowl, did what decades of Detroit auto marketers have attempted: make Motor City heritage a brand asset. But Francois' biggest test will come in 2012, the first full year he has oversight of the Fiat brand. Can he reverse the slow start for the reintroduction to the U.S.? It won't be easy.

Eric Hirschberg
CEO, Activision Publishing

For an industry that laments a lack of respect in the C-suite, the Eric Hirschberg experiment is worth watching. The former chief creative and co-CEO of Deutsch, Los Angeles, made the jump in January to CEO of Activision Publishing, where he leads a giant chunk of the world's largest video-game company. That includes the Call of Duty franchise, responsible for the biggest entertainment launch of all time.

Frank Abenante
Global VP-brands & insights, Anheuser-Busch InBev

He may not be the most well-known beer marketer, but this Venezuela native oversees the flagship brands for the world's biggest brewer. Called fiery and tough but fair, Frank Abenante joined InBev five years ago before it acquired U.S.-based Anheuser-Busch in 2008. From the start he was said to be deeply involved in the brewer's U.S. marketing, which has increasingly relied on stricter ad-testing standards than the old A-B. Of late, the brewer has shaken up its agency roster, including ending a long relationship with DDB .

Duncan Milner
Chief creative officer, TBWA/Media Arts Lab

Will people continue to copy Steve Jobs' advertising in the post-Steve era? That will depend on Duncan Milner, a Lee Clow protege who took creative reigns of the marketers' agency, TBWA's Media Arts Lab, in 2009. Milner met with Jobs on a weekly basis and helped to create an environment where the agency was not just a vendor. New Apple CEO Tim Cook will lean heavily on Milner to keep delighting consumers in the way Jobs would have wanted.

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