Meet Ad Age's 40 Under 40
Ad Age honors the innovative, young marketing leaders who have made their mark in the client, agency and media realms -- all before their 40th birthdays.
Kate Aronowitz has that rare quality of being able to understand the artistic complexities of being a designer, but combining it with the day-to-day practicality of also being a businessperson. Perhaps that's what has made her so successful at Facebook, where she has been in charge of growing and hiring designers responsible for features from Timeline to Gifts to Collections.
The team, which was just 20 people when it started, has grown to 120, and Ms. Aronowitz now sits on Mark Zuckerberg's executive team, showing just how important design is to the company. "When Mark has an idea, he'll email us and ask if there's a designer around he can run it by," she said. "It's like that."
About Me: Of anyone in the world, living or dead, which five people would you like as Facebook friends?
1. Grace Coddington: In another life, I'd love to have her job. As the creative director of American Vogue, she defines modern fashion and gets to work with the best designers and photographers in the world.
2. Hillary Clinton: Mother, former first lady, secretary of state. Hillary defines the modern woman, with all the opportunities and criticisms that come with it. I'd love to have her perspective on family, politics and being a strong role model.
3. Gertrude Stein: As an art collector and writer in the early 20th century, Gertrude gathered all the greats at the time for discussion and debate. From Picasso to Hemmingway, they all visited her Paris apartment on Saturday nights. That's an invite I'd like to snag!
4. Steve Jobs: The quintessential designer who never sacrificed his vision. Steve pushed people to go beyond what they and their team think they're capable of.
5. John Hughes: "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," "Ferris Bueller" and many more. His movies defined being a teenager in the 80s. They made me laugh and cry and made growing up a little easier. I'd love to hear what he thinks of all of us as parents!
After spending more than a dozen years at BBDO and clocking time at the agency's Paris, Singapore, Dubai and Japan offices, Simon Bond has reached the upper rungs of the Omnicom Group network. His ascent has been propelled by his work bolstering the agency's digital operations. Through an innovation and thought-leadership initiative, he was responsible for setting up its "Digital Lab," in which staff and BBDO clients are instructed on cutting-edge technologies and the ways to capture emerging-marketing opportunities.
Now based in New York, Mr. Bond is considered one of the few leaders who can help sketch BBDO's future. But when he's not plotting the agency's path forward, the motorbike enthusiast can be found hitting the road in far-flung locales and traveling to exotic destinations.
Did you know? His next passport stamp: "Uganda -- to see the gorillas in the wild."
Walmart's CMO says 100% of the company's growth will come from the multicultural consumer, and Sharonda L. Britton has a big role in making that happen. "We're increasing our multicultural marketing spend, and one of my biggest challenges is ensuring we're reaching consumers in the right channels in the right media and that creative [work] speaks to them," said Ms. Britton.
Her other top priority is getting everyone at Walmart on board. "You might have category ownership and not be on the multicultural team, but we ask you to understand who this core consumer is," she said. "We're asking every marketer to be a multicultural marketer."
Two years into her Walmart job -- after positions at Cadbury Schweppes and Colgate Palmolive -- Ms. Britton's year is off to a good start. This month, Black Enterprise will name her one of the Top Women in Marketing for 2013 as part of the magazine's Women of Power conference.
Did you know? She's an active member of Delta Sigma Theta and looks forward to celebrating her sorority's centennial this year.
When KBS&P was charged with creating a holiday campaign for longtime client BMW, a couple young creatives at the agency came up with the idea of "The Road Home," a collection of shots that would show BMW drivers on the way home for the holidays. But when the client ended up taking a different approach, the agency staffers banded together and created a film anyway, using footage of their own Thanksgiving journeys home. When Ed Brojerdi saw that it was something special, he called BMW late on a Friday and told them they had a "holiday gift" for them.
The spot ended up being given a 60-second slot during the football game the night before Christmas Eve. That kind of move is symbolic of Mr. Brojerdi, who believes that creativity can come from anywhere, not just from the creative department or from experienced executives. "The best idea might come from someone who has been doing something for two years or for 25," he said. In 2013, he plans to focus more on the shop's inventions that go beyond the physical – like the iPad wall the shop did for Puma, or BMW's amazing, futuristic iWindow display – to show that it can go beyond the traditional TV spot.
Did you know? He's a hardcore car aficionado and he loves "Kung Fu Panda."
When Ashley Brown joined Coca-Cola two years ago, it was just starting to "dip its toes" in social and digital from a corporate perspective. There was a corporate Twitter account but no LinkedIn account and little strategy behind social networks other than Facebook.
Mr. Brown, a Microsoft alum, set about giving the company a voice. In an effort to move toward a story-focused culture, he added former journalists to his staff and launched Coca-Cola Unbottled, a corporate blog. But his biggest project to date has been reimagining of the corporate website as an online magazine dubbed Journey. The company now has a variety of ways to tell corporate stories -- about overseas investments, sustainability and the empowerment of women -- that it struggled to communicate in the past.
Did you know? "I've built scale-model ships and airplanes since I was in high school to relieve stress. I'm a bit OCD. I spend hours under a huge magnifying glass -- on a scale model of a DC-3, I paint the detail on the seats inside the cabin. On my bookshelves right now are the Queen Mary, a Pan Am flying boat and the Hindenberg. I have probably three dozen more in storage. … I try to buy vintage kits. Next is the SS United States; the kit was modeled in 1955."
New brands have been rare in U.S. personal care, and Unilever had been sinking in facial skin care for more than a decade. So the launch of Simple skin care from the U.K. last year was a closely watched step. As VP-U.S. skin-care marketing, Rob Candelino helped pull it off successfully while simultaneously restaging Vaseline, continuing to build Dove Men+Care and gaining share for Unilever in bar soaps, body washes and hand-and-body lotion.
Did you know? Given his success, few would guess that Mr. Candelino got turned down for the first job he applied for at the company in his native Canada in 1997. But Unilever was the only big CPG company that returned his calls or gave him an interview, but didn't initially hire him. Yet he ultimately became the company's first-ever intern in Canada. "Nearly 16 years later," he said, "I've done a global tour in London and this is my second job in the U.S."
The youngest person to take the CMO post at Macaroni Grill, Brandon Coleman is tasked with differentiating the chain from competition and is overseeing its rebranding strategy using data and building what he calls a best-in-class CRM operation to make it happen.
Mr. Coleman, who joined Macaroni Grill as CMO in 2010, said that the chain's challenge positioning as an upscale but value-oriented option while consumers become more conscious of their budgets. "When pressed to reduce budgets, dining out is typically the first thing under scrutiny."
Despite his young age, he has the experience to carry out Macaroni Grill's plan. Prior stints include stops at McCann-Erickson, branding firm Big Picture Thinking, and Restaurants Unlimited, which operates chains Palomino and Kincade's.
Did you know: "I am a total technology geek. As we speak, I have a band on my wrist that is monitoring my activity (UP from Jawbone), a pen that is sending my doodles to Evernote and a lighting system that is controlled by WiFi."
Danielle DeLauro spends every day advocating the value of cable TV to media agencies and advertisers. As senior VP-sales and marketing at the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, Ms. DeLauro combs through research to create more demand for cable, a role that has become especially critical as media planners look to other video platforms and services.
Ms. DeLauro has been at the forefront of presenting cable as a complete video offering, rather than as just a one-dimensional sell. And she knows what agencies and their clients are looking for, having spent nearly a decade on the agency side. As VP-associate media director at Universal McCann, Ms. DeLauro managed 12 brands, including Maytag and Lowe's, with budgets totaling $100 million. Prior to Universal McCann, Ms. DeLaura was a media manager at Media.com, and spent time at DDB Worldwide where she was a senior media planner for Universal Pictures.
Ms. Finn is a digital strategist who worked on George W. Bush's re-election and Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential run and then co-founded her own D.C.-based digital agency, Engage. She joined Twitter in late 2011 just as the company was ramping up its political ad sales. In her role as Twitter's liaison for the Romney campaign and major Republican political committees, as well as issue advocacy groups and trade organizations such as the U.S Chamber of Commerce, her job was convincing political marketers to buy promoted tweets and trends.
Twitter went on to play a high-profile role in the election, and campaigns seized on the opportunity to rebuke each other with Twitter ads that would appear in searches for trending terms from the news cycle like "malarkey." "Our goal for the end of the year was to make Twitter a must-buy in the election, and we were largely successful," she said.
Guilty pleasure: TV programming with dance in the title like "Dancing with Stars" and "Dance Moms."
Georgina Flores leads Allstate's multicultural-marketing strategy, where she has overseen several award-winning efforts in the highly competitive insurance ad market. Recently she led the creation of the "Mala Suerte," campaign, which adapted the insurer's "Mayhem" campaign for the Hispanic market. Ads feature a character who unwittingly inflicts bad luck on everyone around him as a way of enforcing the need for insurance while plugging into cultural insights that fate plays a role when bad things happen. The effort took home a Silver Effie award in 2012 in the Hispanic category.
The marketer last year also won an award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for its "Equality Is" campaign, which urged people to share their vision of LGBT equality at a special website. In 2011, Ms. Flores added homeowners-insurance marketing to her list of responsibilities.
Did you know? Ms. Flores' husband, Manny Flores, is a former Chicago city alderman. She said: "I will stay in marketing and let my husband be the politician."
Blue State Digital has undergone a transformation since making a name for itself through its work for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. That's in no small measure due to Thomas Gensemer, who joined the agency in 2005 and helped guide it through its acquisition by WPP in 2010. Notwithstanding its DNA, political work accounted for just 10% of its revenue in 2012, and it now has a roster of clients like Ford, Dow Chemical, Google and Unilever.
That said, the firm boasted 26 electoral wins last year among its political clients including senate and house victors, new presidents in France and Mexico, and President Obama. Mr. Gensemer expects Democratic politics to remain core to the agency's identity. "That's still the anchor of what the business is and will be," he said. He also noted that the agency's pro bono work for Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project" to support and counsel LGBT youth is the accomplishment of which he's most proud.
Favorite political ad: Ronald Reagan's "The Bear" (1984).
Pet peeve: Digitally obsessive people who don't want to meet in person or even talk on the phone.
"Fancy Digital Exec At Flailing Glossy Deathstar Duped into Working For Evil Blog Kingpin." If Gawker had covered Andrew Gorenstein's mid-2011 move from Condé Nast to Nick Denton's Gawker Media empire in its usual fashion, the headline might have gone something like that. At Condé, Mr. Gorenstein had a posh job as senior executive director for the Condé Nast Media Group (he'd started as East Coast sales director at Portfolio in 2007, after stints at OgilvyOne, UBM and Forbes.com).
Could the elegant, Boston University-educated Mr. Gorenstein, a New Jersey family man, really thrive at a blog network led by a flagship known for its snark and often NSFW wit? Turns out, yes. Year-over-year sales were up 26% in 2012, and Mr. Gorenstein has spearheaded the development of innovative ad units and sponsored-content deals that have seduced A-list marketers including American Express, Mercedes-Benz, Louis Vuitton and HBO.
His favorite Gawker Media posts of 2012:
1. "The Bain Files: Inside Mitt Romney's Tax-Dodging Cayman Schemes" (Gawker): "Fantastic investigative journalism."
2. "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" (Gawker): "The most honest and powerful piece I read all year. Although this was a repost, we gave it the national attention it deserved."
3. "Why Your Team Sucks: New York Jets (Featuring Confessions Of A Meadowlands Security Guard)" (Deadspin): "Because it's true and I'm a sad Jets fan."
Jon Haber once skipped a college final exam to finish Nintendo 64's "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time." It's not exactly something to put on your resume, but without that rebel spirit, Mr. Haber wouldn't be the guy behind OMD's more-than-50-person innovation network.
At 32, he has already managed two large media agency innovation groups. He currently oversees OMD's Ignition Factory, as well as its gaming, emerging media and mobile departments. Some of the group's notable campaigns under his lead include an app hackathon for Spotify, a CW Twitter-in-print ad and a Foursquare-activated baseball-dispensing billboard.
Did you know? He's a comedy nerd, and "with the podcast renassance officially upon us," it's a good time for that, he said. "Podcasting has some real numbers in aggregate," he said. "I am expecting this trend to explode over the next few years as internet radio is built into most new cars." He said he overloads on Adam Corolla rants and pre-1995 musicals.
In eight years at MillerCoors, Dan Hennessy has gone from running MillerCoors' Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor to leading Coors Light, the brewer's best-selling brand. While Coors Light was ascending when Mr. Hennessy took it over three years ago, he has kept the Silver Bullet speeding forward. The brew last year passed Budweiser as the second best-selling U.S. beer, thanks to consistent marketing that has positioned Coors Light as Rocky Mountain cold refreshment.
Mr. Hennessy last year oversaw the brand's move from DraftFCB to Cavalry, a WPP entity created for the Coors account and new products. Recently, Coors Light has rolled out highly produced ads filmed on location in Alaska that double down on the cold imagery. Mr. Hennessey also oversees Coors Banquet, whose sales are climbing.
Did you know? As his Twitter handle suggests, Mr. Hennessy is a huge Rolling Stones fan, having seen the band live 13 times.
Smack in the midst of the recession in 2010, Brittany Hodak and Kim Kaupe bid adieu to their 401Ks at Fathom Communications and sat down to construct a four-word business plan (Make Money. Have Fun.). The result? Ms. Kaupe, who had worked for Condé Nast's Brides, and Ms. Hodak, who had worked at Sony, devised a product that would combine music, publishing and merchandising. Thus was born the 'ZinePak, which one month later would find its way onto the shelves of Walmart.
What's a 'ZinePak? It's composed of 60 to 120 pages of original editorial content, a CD or DVD tied to a musical artist and one or more custom merchandise items/ inserts from a variety of existing brand partners. "An example is the 'ZinePak we did for Taylor Swift's deluxe version of Red," said Ms. Hodak. "We offered samples via her partnerships with American Greetings and Elizabeth Arden and included ads for Cover Girl."
"We ended 2011 with $600,000 in revenue," said Ms. Hodak, whose company also produced 24 'ZinePaks in 2012 for artists such as Justin Bieber and Rascal Flatts. "We followed it up in 2012 with $2.6 million. We increased our business by over $2 million in 12 months while turning down projects."
What was your favorite music to listen to as a teen?
Ms. Hodak: "Mine was a tie between the Goo Goo Dolls and Garth Brooks."
Ms. Kaupe: "The Beach Boys - when we finally got to work with them I think I was uncomfortably glued to Mike Love's side!"
As top marketers wrestle with the task of figuring out how to best position their brands in the fast-changing digital age, Ms. Hofsetter is one person many Fortune 500 leaders have turned to. She helped set up one of the first social-media practices at any agency, which these days is serving as a hub for social community management at 360i.
The shop estimates it helps top brands connect with upwards of 150 million consumers daily, and the social practice shepherded by Ms. Hofstetter is one of the fastest-growing -- up 75% year over year. As Dana Anderson, senior VP-marketing, strategy & communications at Kraft Foods has said: "Sarah is bright, fascinating, compassionate and driven, which is a delightful combination to have in a collaborator."
He was Mark Zuckerberg's sophomore roommate at Harvard, where he became Facebook's first employee and spokesman. In return for being the face of the social network, he received a 1% stake in the company, making his net worth approximately $600 million, according to Forbes. But Chris Hughes is not merely the product of a fortunate roommate assignment.
He left Facebook to help President Obama get elected in 2008, serving as the director of online organizing for the campaign. Now, Mr. Hughes is bringing his startup sensibility to journalism. He bought a majority stake in liberal-leaning political magazine The New Republic in May and named himself publisher and editor-in-chief. Mr. Hughes said the magazine is redesigning its digital channels, instilling a subscription-based model, deemphasizing online banner ads and focusing on "native" advertising. "I never really understood banners and pop-ups as being that additive to the user from the digital perspective," he said.
Did you know? There's a Tumblr dedicated to him called "Chris Hughes Is Better than You."
At 13 she shoveled horse manure when her Dad insisted she earn the cash she wanted to spend on new clothes. A decade later she was getting to work at U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson's office at 4:30 a.m. to scour newspapers and build a clip book for the Texas senator.
That hardworking mentality eventually landed Dustee Tucker Jenkins in the role of press secretary for the senator, and she was later appointed the director-communications of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by President George W. Bush. She consulted for Target before coming onboard full time in 2010. Her arrival coincided with a significant shift at the retailer, which had long eschewed so-called trade publications -- it became more media savvy and press friendly.
Ms. Jenkins helped to cultivate a field team -- an idea plucked from her days in politics -- in order to better serve local Target communities. And A Bullseye View, the company's online magazine, quickly became a go-to resource for consumers and journalists under her watch.
What's your favorite section to shop at Target? Shoes and accessories. I wear something by Target every day -- today I'm wearing a blue belt. I don't think I can represent the brand if I don't live it day in and day out.
DunnhumbyUSA has been best known for running loyalty programs for retailers Kroger and Macy's, along with efforts linking those programs with brand marketers. But it's increasingly moving into the media space, using its retailers' trove of purchase data to help marketers create and evaluate media plans. And the key person behind that is Matthew Keylock, who led the company's 2011 partnership with set-top TV data tracker TRA.
What are five common data mistakes?
1. Trying to do things too fast in a "gold-rush mentality" without a well-considered plan.
2. Using data in a non-integrated way or not connecting data from disparate parts of the organization.
3. Letting data be run solely by the information-technology organization.
4. Not having consistent insight leadership on how data is used.
5. Companies not creating your own data sources but just relying on data that's captured or buying from proxies.
When the NBA and NFL lockouts threatened to knock out parts or all of their 2011 seasons, Leah LaPlaca felt a lot of pressure. A 10-year veteran of 22, Ms. LaPlaca is among a handful of top 22 brass who negotiate TV deals with the leagues. She is also the exec who oversees the programming of NBA and NFL games on 22's TV networks and digital properties. As the NBA lockout dragged on, Ms. LaPlaca worked with her counterparts in sales, marketing, and production to craft new contingency plans on an almost daily basis.
The NBA's work stoppage ended up shortening the season by 16 games, but in the end Ms. LaPlaca managed to fit a season worth of televised games into a compressed calendar. "I'm happy this year to have a full season," she said. "I prefer labor peace."
Did you know? My freshman year at Duke, I had a pre-major advisor who was a petite little English woman with hair down to her butt who did work with pigmy chimps in Zaire. So that set me on a path to be a Jane Goodall-type person who would do conservation type of work.
I later realized I didn't love it enough to make it my life. But I did spend a summer doing ecological observations and research in chimpanzees in the rainforest in western Uganda. Part of the time I ended up doing work with a chimpanzee that we were trying to reintroduce back into the forest after a farmer took her as a pet. It didn't work unfortunately.
Mr. Mason, 38, has overseen marketing for some of the biggest booze brands in the business. He has been at 24 Inc. since 2010, where he helms the marketer's bourbon portfolio, including the flagship Jim 24 franchise. Under Mr. Mason's leadership, the company has rolled out cutting-edge innovations such as Jim 24 Devil's Cut, a first-of its kind bourbon made by extracting and bottling the last drops of liquid trapped inside wooden bourbon barrels.
In the nine months ending in September, Jim 24 sales surged 8%, while Maker's Mark jumped 23% and Knob Creek soared 15%. Mr. Mason has a hand in 24's next big innovation, Jim 24 Jacob's Ghost, a colorless whiskey named for brand founder Jacob 24.
Did you know?A dual citizen of the U.S. and Brazil, Mr. Mason appeared in TV commercials when young, including for Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
As a young agent at Creative Artists Agency, Matt Mazzeo created a unique niche: helping Hollywood forge business connections to Silicon Valley. "I've been doing this version of the translation for a long time," he said. But late last year Mr. Mazzeo left CAA and partnered with longtime friend and prominent Silicon Valley investor Chris Sacca to start a venture fund focused on early-stage entertainment startups in Los Angeles.
Mr. Sacca, former head of special initiatives at Google, has $1 billion under management, including early stakes in Photobucket, Twitter, Uber and Instagram. And while VC money and content businesses have not traditionally mixed, Messrs. Mazzeo and Sacca believe the conditions are in place for a next great generation of companies to be born creating content for new platforms, pipes and devices. "YouTube is building infrastructure down here; Facebook is building offices down here. The center of gravity is moving down," Mr. Mazzeo said. "The audiences are huge and the monetization is getting there."
Did you know? Mr. Mazzzeo was a part-time Los Angeles sushi tour guide and leading rebounder of the Sherman Oaks street summer league.
Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, has been in the family business since high school, when she worked the company switchboard. But her training started a lot earlier, when as a child she sat in on her dad's creative meetings "pretending to be not listening, but I was. It's just really what I've always wanted to do." She began leading the WWE's creative writing team at age 22 and was promoted to her current title in 2007, where she oversees the development of TV, pay-per-view, print, digital and social-media programming.
A couple years ago, she merged the creative teams, which had been split by channel. "We are all telling the same stories. And digital and social offer the ability to continue storylines 24/7 so our fans can consume the content anytime, anywhere on the device they prefer." Her influence will soon grow if the WWE, as planned, launches its own network.
Did you know? Ms. McMahon, who is married to wrestling star Triple H, used to appear in WWE programming, just like her dad. But "it just got to be too much," she said, as she began having children (she now has three kids).
In a milestone transition in May 2012, Monique L. Nelson became chairman-CEO and majority shareholder of UniWorld Group, the third-largest African-American ad agency, when venerable founder Byron Lewis retired from the agency he started in 1969 and headed for more than 40 years. (WPP acquired a 49% stake in 2000).
Ms. Nelson was ready to step up. She joined UniWorld five years ago from the client side as senior VP-brand integration, after nine years at Motorola, where she was the global lead for entertainment marketing.
She's off to a good start. With a solid client roster including Ford Motor Co., Home Depot, and the U.S. Marines Corp. UniWorld won the African-American category at the Association of National Advertisers' annual Multicultural Excellence Awards in November 2012 for the agency's Ford Explorer TV campaign, and also picked up the prize for best print work, for U.S. Marines recruitment ads.
Did you know? She is a blue-ribbon equestrian and a Kentucky Derby enthusiast.
In November, Brett O'Brien was tapped to lead Gatorade, filling a spot vacated by Sarah Robb O'Hagan, who steered the brand's recent turnaround. A 12-year veteran of PepsiCo, Mr. O'Brien, most recently VP-marketing for Mtn Dew, Flavors and Amp Energy, relaunched Amp in the states and gambled with Dewmocracy, the innovative program that shifted almost entirely online a marketing budget representing more than $100 million in sales.
Mr. O'Brien, speaking from his new, mostly empty office -- it boasts only a New England Patriots football, so far -- seemed aware he's walked into a brand that's fiercely guarded, where the marketers are passionate and intense. "I'm sure there were a few people thinking at that first town hall, 'Do you get it? Are you really going to be a Gatorade guy or not?'" he admitted. "I want to be that Gatorade guy and protect this brand."
How does a New England sports fan adjust to life in Chicago? "I'm trying to subtly build my son's allegiance. He's 7, and I just took him to his first Patriots game. With this move, I'm trying to maintain the strong Boston connections, so he doesn't jump ship on me."
Taking a nearly 112-year-old pharmacy name and positioning it as a larger health and wellness brand is no small task. But Walgreens has made that a priority in recent years, and fundamental to that change is using digital resources. Leading the effort is Deepika Pandey, who oversees the company's online, mobile and multichannel strategy for Walgreens, drugstore.com, beauty.com and VisionDirect.com; she also oversees the social-media team, leads the company's e-commerce operation and launched Walgreens' iPhone, iPad and Android apps.
All of those things contribute to a better customer experience, making it easy to, say, refill prescriptions online, among other things. Ms. Pandey joined Walgreens in 2008 as director of online strategy, just as the company began its digital overhaul. Prior to Walgreens, Ms. Pandey spent eight years at McKinsey & Co., where she was a consultant in both the retail and marketing practices.
While young and ambitious marketing executives often jump around from company to company to rise to the top, Dave Penski's many years at Zenith have paid off. He worked at Publicis Groupe media agency Zenith on and off between 1999 and 2002, and consistenly since 2002. During the past three years that he has served as president, and most recently U.S. CEO, the firm has grown 75%.
In 2012, it also touts one of its best years of organic growth. Pre-2009, he was dedicated to Zenith client Verizon and over the years has helped grow the business to become a multibillion-dollar account. "When I started on it, it was Bell Atlantic Mobile and we were basically selling car phones with a budget of $65 million."
Did you know? He has a few tattoos -- undisclosed locations and designs -- loves to play poker, listen to hip hop and swim with sharks.
Jaime Robinson helped redesign storytelling for the social age, having steered major campaigns such as Intel/Toshiba's social film experiences "Inside" and "The Beauty Inside," viral hits that represent a new paradigm in branding and entertainment. Beyond that, she's made toys even more fun with Hasbro's recent Scrabble campaign, starring personified tiles; and in clever turns for Lego, including the "Click" community site and the accompanying short films "Click!" and "Brick Thief."
Prior to her current post, she honed her chops at other creatively inclined shops such as EVB, TBWA/Chiat/Day and Mad Dogs & Englishmen, and translated stories for brands such as Adidas and Ray-Ban. Challenge and innovation are built in to her M.O.: "These days, we find ourselves doing research in weird places, talking to highly unusual specialists to get stuff done," she said. "If we don't quite know how to get it produced, that's the work I personally want to do because that means it's new."
Did you know? Ms. Robinson, an avid knitter and sewer, is a mom to two young girls and manages to make it home for dinner, bath and bedtime every night. "My daughters are really interested in my job and love our LEGO and Scrabble work… and even 'The Beauty Inside'.My four-year old just became obsessed with writing her own stories. They almost always involve unicorns and cake, but they are very compelling!"
Though Nikhil Sethi's first two attempts at startup life didn't hit it big, they provided him with an idea for his third: How do you build a following and marketing strategies for a business on different social networks with different use cases? With the help of his co-founder Garrett Ullom, Mr. Sethi created Adaptly to attempt to solve that dilemma.
The startup's products aim to help brands do three things: build followings on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter; create appealing content for their audiences; and run cohesive advertising campaigns across several networks despite their different ad formats.
As CEO, Mr. Sethi spends a good chunk of his time educating both current and prospective clients from the CMO level down to the junior media planner on why they should care about the potential of marketing on social-media networks and how to value those campaigns. Today, Adaptly has amassed $13 million in venture funding, is 70 employees strong and is competing for ranging from $2 million to $5 million a pop, Mr. Sethi said.
Did you know? His two dream board members are Ross Levinsohn, "because of his views on content and that good paid media isn't purely one-sided, but that there should be legit consumer value in it," and And Elon Musk "because what he's doing with transportation is so alluring and because the distribution of ideas and messaging that we're involved in is in a way a mode of transportation."
A perennial overachiever, Clara Shih cut her teeth in tech with stints at Google and Salesforce.com before co-founding her company, Hearsay Social, with a former Stanford classmate in 2009. With clients like Goldman Sachs, Farmers Insurance and Berkshire Hathaway signed in 2012, the company's focus is on social-marketing and sales tools for companies with thousands of affiliates, such as insurance agents, who need to connect with local customers on their Facebook pages while still incorporating the brand message.
Hearsay grew to 100 employees from 40 last year, but Ms. Shih is intent on expanding into verticals like real estate. Notwithstanding the acquisition path that social-enterprise giants like Buddy Media and Wildfire have taken, Ms. Shih says she intends to keep Hearsay Social independent. "Big companies, no matter what they try and how they do it, can never innovate as fast as startups," she said.
Did you know? Her pet peeve is not being at inbox zero.
Scott Spirit entered the ad world in 2003 when he took a job as WPP chief Martin Sorrell's assistant, a position akin to an apprenticeship. After three years traveling the world at Mr. Sorrell's side and meeting key stakeholders, he was appointed to the newly created role of China strategy director, then oversaw Asia-Pacific strategy before taking on his current role in 2010.
These days, Mr. Spirit, who is based in Shanghai, helps WPP agencies around the world grow their business -- particularly in fast-growing markets like China, southeast Asia and parts of Africa. That could mean identifying acquisition targets, entering new markets or creating new products. He also oversees collaboration among WPP agencies. Might he take over the WPP reins from his 67-year-old mentor one day? Mr. Spirit responds with a quip and a laugh: "I would say the chances are I'll retire before he does."
Did you know? Mr. Spirit now lives in a city of 24 million but hails from a tiny village in the north of England. "I think it has population of about 50 people," he said. "It has a church and a castle and no pub, which is pretty unusual for an English village."
For Lincoln Stephens -- so named for his grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Stephens, born on our former president's birthday -- working in a string of prominent agencies was a means to finding his true passion. After serving as an account exec at Dallas ad shops such as Carol H. Williams and TracyLocke, Mr. Stephens felt he could parlay his experience into something broader. While he enjoyed his work on top brands such as Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola, and Cadillac, it nagged at him that young talent didn't have more avenues to be recognized and supported throughout their careers. So in November 2008, he quit his job to launch a nonprofit called The Marcus Graham Project (a fun reference to the movie "Boomerang," in which Eddie Murphy portrays a hotshot ad exec named Marcus Graham).
The group is focused on bringing more diversity to the advertising industry through mentorship, exposure and career development. His community-organzing skills don't stop there; he's been a leader for "Rock the Vote," African-American Leaders of
Tomorrow, and the Dallas Urban League for Young Professionals, among others. To honor his grandfather, he's about to embark on another project using the 150 acres of land in east Texas to open a Vocational Agricultural camp for inner-city kids in Dallas and Houston.
Did you know? "I love cooking and learned how to do so from my father at age 6. One day I hope to retire opening up a restaurant or small deli serving my favorite dishes, including gumbo and a Haitian French Toast recipe made with pound cake."
Josh Stinchcomb's latest promotion at Condé Nast last July elevated the company's VP-digital sales in the crucial corporate sales operation to VP-corporate partnerships across digital, print and whatever else Conde can sell. It stood out not because of his relative youth, but because he succeeded a print veteran -- signaling the growing place for digital in a company that had clung to print tighter and longer than others.
In another such indicator, Mr. Stinchcomb recently walked the halls at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where he met with clients and explored new technology with them.
Did you know? Mr. Stinchcomb explored another life, as a bond trader, after he left Wired to attend business school at New York University. "I'm sort of a quant person by nature, and business school kind of makes the path into finance easy," he said. "Those wheels are greased."
If an MTV or NBC Universal started today, what would it look like? Would it have 10 channels or 10,000? That's the riddle George Strompolos set out to solve when he launched Fullscreen two years ago and built it into the largest network on YouTube. Backed by former News Corp. President Peter Chernin, Fullscreen takes care of the business stuff so creators such as David So and Michael Buckley can do what they do best: make content.
That means connecting those producers with advertisers. It also works with established brands such as NBC, 20th Century Fox and Ford to make sure their content gets an audience. It's a landscape that Mr. Strompolos knows well, having spent six years at Google and YouTube, where he co-created the YouTube Partner Program and made some of its first content deals, including Seth McFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy.
"The thesis here is YouTube is the next evolution of cable," he said. "We've set out to build a company that is kind of like a Viacom would be if it were built on YouTube."
Did you know? He "used to make beats for gangster rappers in the Bay Area.'
As senior director-retail marketing at Caribou, Michele Vig has a big job. The coffee chain is expanding its footprint -- currently it has about 500 locations in 16 states as well as overseas -- and its coffee is available in more places than ever before. To that end, Ms. Vig said her greatest challenge in the upcoming year is ensuring a "steadfast commitment to delivering our customer promise at every single touch point."
Since 2007, when she joined Caribou, she has overseen the introduction of new products such as carbonated beverages, revamped breakfast sandwiches and fruit and yogurt smoothies. Previously she spent four years as senior director-marketing at Wild Wings.
Guilty pleasure: "Anything chocolate."
Favorite all-time movie: "Rudy."
Sloan White is not afraid to stand out. In high school, she chose to play the bassoon. There weren't any other bassoonists, but that meant she'd have a good shot at top billing, she reasoned. In college, she played lacrosse for the University of Richmond and joined a sorority -- a dichotomy, she said, that surprises some. And at an age when many are still figuring out what they want to do, Ms. White is leading all of the marketing efforts for the Capital One Mascot Challenge -- which generated 45 million votes and 2.5 million video views last year -- and the Capital One Bowl.
She also manages the agencies that support those programs, as well as internal hospitality and ticketing teams. In just five years she's helped make Capital One a top brand in college sports. "Do not undervalue your perspective," she advises young marketers. "The demographic you represent might be the one you're trying to reach. You can contribute."
What's in her wallet? "Capital One card, a little cash; nothing very exciting. It's a new Coach wallet. I left my last one on an airplane."
In just over two years, Rodney Williams went from intern to brand manager on Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pampers to the holder of two patents for social-media marketing. Just months into the brand manager post, he left to launch Lisnr, an app that automatically unlocks marketer-supported exclusive content on mobile devices when certain songs play. He already counts Mondelez and Warner Bros. as clients.
Mr. Williams didn't travel far, moving to P&G space lent to Cincinnati marketing-tech-accelerator Cintrifuse. Ironically, he'd starred in a music video a year earlier at a P&G award ceremony about a fictional prodigal marketer who leaves for a West Coast tech company but returns to P&G and Cincinnati for its marketing savvy.
Did you know? Mr. Williams made what he counts as his coolest real-life trip last March to SXSW in Austin aboard the "Startup Bus," where he and four team members developed Lisnr in 72 intensive hours and made contacts leading to seed-stage funding.
One in three moms are the breadwinners in their household, and the average mom has just 47 minutes a day -- including bathroom breaks -- to herself. These are the types of facts that Katherine Wintsch knows off the top of her head, and her understanding of mom behavior is why marketers such as Walmart turn to her for guidance.
Ms. Wintsch has been a staffer and head of planning at Martin Agency for over a decade. Last September, the Interpublic Group of Cos.'s shop entrusted her to launch a new unit to assist clients eager to target one of the most important demographics in America: moms.
How have moms changed in the last few decades? "The difference between moms in 2013 vs. moms 20 years ago is that they are finally recognizing and leveraging their own buying power. Loyalty goes to the brands that make better products and services for moms, not just better advertising."
Victor Wong is a web entrepreneur with a passion for small business. Luckily, his company PaperG unites those two interests by providing technology that allows small-business owners a simple way to create and serve digital ads. Founded in 2007 by Mr. Wong, Victor Cheng, Ka Mo Lau and Roger Lee while they were all Ivy League students (Mr. Lee at Harvard, the rest at Yale), the company became profitable in summer 2012 and earned more than $7 million.
Integral to PaperG's success has been licensing its technology to media companies including AOL's Patch, Hearst and Gannett so they in turn can provide automated, customized local ads to small businesses across the country.
Did you know? His dream is to become a writer. He's not far off: He also writes for Forbes.com and Gawker Media's Lifehacker.