1. Karl Rove
He did it again. He did it again. Dubya's deceptively named senior adviser obsessively masterminded every detail of the 2004 re-election campaign, and delivered a second term. He connected with Red loyalists with some of the savviest direct-marketing tactics ever seen in politics. And, oh yes, he kept the message almost painfully simple: Bush, we were told, again and again, is the country's only hope for keeping terrorism and moral decay at bay. Throw in some unmerciful battering of John "Flipper" Kerry, and it all adds up to four more years.
High-powered marketing for "The Passion of the Christ" resulted in a box-office blockbuster, raking in $370 million, making it the top-grossing R-rated film of all time. Odds were stacked against it-the film was too bloody, it was too religious, it was too polarizing, it wasn't even in English. But Gibson, who invested millions in the film, crusaded on, gaining evangelical support by screening "Passion" to churches, Christian radio stations, TV ministries and family-values organizations. In the end, "Passion" prevailed as one of the most outstanding success stories of the year-nothing short of a miracle.
3. Mark Burnett
Hollywood won't be the same after producer Mark Burnett. Following continuing ratings success for "Survivor" on CBS, his new formula for "The Apprentice" has rewritten the rules of TV economics. Fees for inclusion in the script of marketers-who are showcased as part of the apprentice's problem-solving task-have more than doubled from the $1 million charged during season one. Burnett's take from the sophomore season of "The Apprentice" alone is estimated at $13.5 million, and he may well have another hit on the way: Burnett scored a coup by signing jailed Martha Stewart for a new show.
Few athletes live stronger in marketing legend than this five-time Tour de France winner. Armstrong lost his relationship with the USPS, but picked up Discovery Communications as title sponsor. His foundation popularized the ubiquitous yellow "Livestrong" wristbands that have raised $6 million for cancer research. Armstrong remains a staple in spots for Subaru and Nike. He is also becoming a media fixture, not just on talk shows but on Discovery's "Overhauling" and Ben Stiller's slapstick feature film "Dodgeball."
5. Bob Liodice
The Association of National Advertisers president-CEO has taken what was in essence a polite and gentlemanly trade association to the next level as a forceful organization determined to steer its members through the shoals of changes in marketing. Out: conferences light on content and heavy on networking. In: an agenda of strong speakers facing head-on such issues as consumer control and return on investment. ANA has always had the power-but its sway had earlier focused mainly on lobbying in Washington. Now, its clout is being leveraged to solve marketing problems beyond the Beltway.
6. Ed Meyer
Grey's legendary chairman-CEO, reputed as the quintessential account handler, will likely have a new representation in advertising's history books: as the man who made more from the sale of Grey than the company made in the last five years. WPP Group is paying a record price for Grey shares and Meyer's stake comes to about $370 million, not including cash for "deferred compensation and supplemental pension amounts" and a contract "settlement payment." The deal also put to rest any lingering doubts about holding company conflicts, landing both Procter & Gamble and Unilever at WPP.
7. Ana Marie Cox
As the reigning queen of the blogs, the "Wonkette" creator gained fame on and off the Web as her much-read site (wonkette.com) is held up as a prime example of how influential Web logs are changing the media game. Part of the Nick Denton stable of properties, which also include Gawker.com and Fleshbot.com,Cox's potty humor, sex jokes and gossip give the Inside the Beltway set the Page Six treatment. And being camera friendly in the non-glam world of D.C. has landed Cox a fair amount of face time in the old-school media as well.
8. Donald Wildmon
Like him or hate him, this family-values crusader is having a big impact on marketing. Although his American Family Association has been around for more than 20 years, the influence of Wildmon's group, which targets advertisers in TV shows it finds offensive via its 200,000-strong OneMillionMoms and OneMillionDads e-mail network, is growing. Most recently, AFA convinced Lowe's and Tyson to pull their advertising from ABC's hottest new property, "Desperate Housewives."
9. James Dyson
It's no mean feat to make a vacuum cleaner a status symbol, but this British inventor's "dual cyclone technology" reinvented a decidedly staid and unsexy category in the U.S. The charismatic pitchman's yellow-hued, premium-priced machines that never get clogged and never lose suction have rocketed to the No. 2 position in this country. Along the way, Dyson changed the category dynamic-vacuums were primarily a commodity purchase and now premium-priced products command a third of the market. The company now vows to take the lead from Hoover.
10. Deb Henretta
Under her watch as global baby care president, Procter & Gamble introduced two blockbuster diaper lines that not only brought much-needed innovation to the category, but put the marketer within striking distance of unseating Kimberly-Clark's category-leading position. With Pampers Feel n' Learn and a restage of Luvs, P&G is edging closer to regaining the top slot it lost to its rival in the `90s. Henretta also credits an emotional appeal to moms. "Historically, P&G was very good at appealing to minds," she said. "We're finding it's appealing to hearts that is starting to develop very strong brand loyalty for Pampers."