1. Mel Karmazin
CEO, Sirius Satellite Radio
Howard Stern was handing out free Sirius radios in a New York City park and talking the service up on "The Late Show with David Letterman" as the news was breaking of Mel's return. When these two were building Infinity Radio, Karmazin was king of packaging ad sales in such a way that a local medium could be sold nationally while cutting costs along the way. Now he's CEO of a company that needs to convince advertisers that it can deliver a national audience, and figure out a way to get consumers to pay.
CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
While he was president-chief operating officer of Coca-Cola Co., Heyer seemed to feel trapped and didn't like reporting in to higher-ups. Rumor had it he was looking for his own playpen, and now he'll, ummm, need to play nice with Barry Sternlicht, 43, Starwood's executive chairman, to drive revenue for a mix of big and small hotel brands, such as Sheraton and W, as well as Bliss spas. At Coke, he established his credentials as a leader in new marketing methods, so: Bliss TV anyone?
3. Andrew Keller
Creative director, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami
Working with advertising "It Boy" Alex Bogusky, Keller has figured out a way to shine all on his own. Keller works not only on the agency's biggest, baddest client, Burger King, but still directs campaigns for BMW Mini and Virgin Atlantic. "Subservient Chicken," the slightly creepy but ever-so-effective way of snagging young men to think about "having it your way," was a breakthrough in integrated marketing. Andrew Keller, this year's "It Boy"?
4. Eddie Lampert
Financier orchestrating the Kmart/Sears merger
Will the financier find himself in a box? America is overstored and overmalled, so Sears' collection of mall stores and Kmart's smallish, worn-down boxes may prove less valuable real estate than Mr. Lampert and his fans had been banking on. Lampert knows how to close deals and close stores, and he's sure to be cautious and stingy on the risky scheme of converting Kmarts into Sears. The smart money wonders how long Kmart and Sears will be around.
5. E. Neville Isdell
CEO, Coca-Cola Co.
Isdell has shown he's the kind of Coke executive that bleeds Big Red, which may or may not be what the soda giant needs right now. Once viewed as a maverick who helped Coke break into new markets in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, Isdell now says he believes the future is selling more syrup to bottlers. Figuring out how to successfully position Classic Coke will be key to this growth strategy, and we'll be watching closely to see which agency (prize fight of 2005: McCann vs. Berlin) comes up with the winning idea.
6. Steve McPherson
President-prime time entertainment, ABC
Desperate? Lost? Those words no longer worry the Walt Disney Co. network the way they did before McPherson arrived. Thanks to the murder in Wisteria Lane and airplane-crash survivors battling mysterious island forces, ABC is finally getting some respect, and most importantly, viewers aged 18-49. Those hits were already in the works when he arrived, so it remains to be seen what he'll greenlight. But last upfront, media-buying executives didn't know him. This upfront, he's likely to be a tad more popular.
7. Susan Lyne
President-CEO, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Martha apparently doesn't like waverers; MSLO President-CEO Sharon Patrick and fervent Martha loyalist seemed to waver in her belief in the power of the Martha Stewart name. Lyne, as Patrick's successor, has set herself up as Stewart's champion. It's all about redemption at this point, and Lyne, who was part of the ABC team behind "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" before she was replaced by No. 6 (above), seems to know a thing or two about recovery.
8. Vincent Bollore
Founder, Bollore Investissement
This French financier suddenly became a regular in the financial press (and Ad Age) as he amassed a 20% stake in Havas in 2004 and became one of the holding company's top four investors. But is he flirting with Maurice Levy and Martin Sorrell to sell his shares? Bollore has increasingly put Havas management, including CEO Alain de Pouzilhac, on edge as he keeps his intentions to himself. Just how uncomfortable he'll make them in 2005 will likely determine Havas future.
9. David Lubars
Chairman-chief creative officer, BBDO
When you get nine pages in New York Magazine before you start a new job, you have a lot to prove. True, he's got BMW Films-not to mention hundreds of great 30-second commercials and a mantelpiece full of ad gongs-under his belt, but that was at his old agency. This is the year the Brooklynite must prove BBDO Worldwide CEO Andrew Robertson right in ousting longtime Ted Sann for a Titanium Lion winner from Fallon. Can he come up with the work to reach out to the new Pepsi Generation?
10. William D. Perez
Wow! They are some large and hip sneakers you've stepped into, Mr. Perez. Succeeding the master marketer Phil Knight is no easy task, especially when you have the added burden of proving that you can go from selling floor wax to footwear for the phat crowd. Much was made-thanks, PR chaps-of the fact that he's a loyal runner and Nike consumer himself. But does that make him the best CEO for Nike? Fortunately for Perez, Knight plans on staying in the office next door as chairman.