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Business Insider's most innovative CMOs of 2024

Business Insider's most innovative CMOs of 2024 from left: Mayur Gupta, Kim Chappell, Kory Marchisotto, Asad Ayaz and Jonnie Cahill
From left: Mayur Gupta, Kim Chappell, Kory Marchisotto, Asad Ayaz and Jonnie CahillBI
  • CMOs are under increased pressure to grow their brands while reaching new audiences.

  • They're experimenting with new technology like generative AI and cookieless advertising.

  • Meet Business Insider's "Most Innovative CMOs" of 2024.

The role of chief marketing officers is only getting harder.

They're increasingly responsible for proving growth at their companies by boosting consumer spending, reaching new audiences like Gen Z, and using emerging technologies like generative AI and cookieless tools.

Business Insider's annual list of the "Most Innovative CMOs" spotlights CMOS rising to these challenges. This year's 34 CMOs came from nearly 80 nominations from their peers and industry experts.

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This year's CMOs include executives from big brands like Disney, Chipotle, and PepsiCo; direct-to-consumer names like Bobbie; and tech companies like Workday and Kraken Digital Asset Exchange.

Here are Business Insider's 2024 "Most Innovative CMOs," listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Asad Ayaz, chief brand officer, The Walt Disney Company and president, marketing, The Walt Disney Studios, Disney+, and The Walt Disney Company

CMO Insider: Asad Ayaz, chief brand officer, The Walt Disney Company and president, marketing, The Walt Disney Studios and Disney+ and The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company

Last April, Ayaz was named as The Walt Disney Company's first-ever chief brand officer, an expansion of his role as president of marketing for Walt Disney Studios and Disney+, responsibilities he still holds. He oversees marketing strategy, creative advertising, media, research, special events, promotions, and global publicity.

Not long after Ayaz was announced into his new role, the entertainment industry was faced with multiple strikes impacting film and TV production. Ayaz helped the company navigate these challenges while also driving the global campaign to celebrate Disney's 100th anniversary, which had kicked off with a Super Bowl commercial in 2023 and the introduction of a new logo.

Elsewhere, Ayaz pioneered new partnerships and social campaigns to bring the effort to a diverse set of audiences. Ayaz led a collaboration with TikTok, for example, to introduce a Disney100 hub experience, featuring interactive challenges and games, as well as music and sounds. The hub drove a significant increase in the popularity of Disney's songs, with some entering the Billboard Top 50.

Ayaz is also preparing to create a host of new consumer touchpoints as part of The Walt Disney Company's $60 billion investment to expand its theme parks worldwide. And Walt Disney Studios is set to release movies like "Deadpool and Wolverine," which became the most-watched trailer of all time during this year's Super Bowl.

Francisco Bram, VP of marketing and business development, Albertsons Companies

CMO Insider: Francisco Bram, VP of marketing and business development, Albertsons Companies
Albertsons Companies

"Customers for life" is part of Albertsons Companies' corporate mission. With that in mind, Bram last year harnessed health and wellness to try to transform customer relationships across its 22 supermarket brands, including Acme, Safeway, and Pavilions.

Sincerely Health, the app he launched in collaboration with healthcare providers and insurance companies, positions Albertsons as a wellness partner ­― and could fuel loyalty by rewarding healthful choices. The app integrates with Albertsons' e-commerce sites, serving up personalized health and nutrition tips based on purchases and buying history.

At a time when some customers are cutting back on discretionary spending ― and online grocery outlets grab larger market shares ― the app has helped generate a 46% jump in brand awareness for Albertsons Companies stores, the company said.

Bram also broadened Albertsons' potential revenue streams by launching the company's first B2B marketing organization. Albertsons now offers customized pharmacy and grocery services to corporate clients, including vaccine clinics, pharmacy services, and grocery delivery.

Bram's approach is ringing up results. In April, Albertsons reported same-store sales increased 1% year over year, digital sales increased 22%, and loyalty members increased 16% to 39.8 million; the numbers stand out in a year when online grocery sales dipped 1.2% year over year, according to one industry report.

Chris Brandt, CMO, Chipotle

Chris Brandt, CMO, Chipotle
Chipotle

Brandt, an early adopter who embraced gaming and esports for Chipotle in 2018, saw an opening last year among the Fighting Game Community (FGC)­, a gaming subculture largely untargeted­ by non-endemic brands. Chipotle gave away free entrée cards at the largest live FGC events, and used a promo code based on fan lingo to grant in-game currency to Street Fighter 6 players.

Both IRL and online, results were a win. At Evo Las Vegas, North America's largest FGC event, a crowd of 10,000 fans cheered ads from Chipotle, the first non-endemic brand to host one of the largest team tournaments in Street Fighter history. Through the campaign, Chipotle's brand sentiment score among US esports fans aged 18 to 44 rose from 29% to 41%, according to YouGov BrandIndex. The brand's FGC activations generated more than 1.5 billion impressions and 185 earned media placements.

Menu innovations, a key to consumer engagement, have been another platform for Brandt.

In early 2023, Chipotle introduced the Fajita Quesadilla, a permanent menu item inspired by a viral TikTok hack; its launch nearly doubled the company's quesadilla business. Its success led Brandt to create Chipotle's own hack­­s, like a sour cream/Chipotle Tomatillo-Red Chili Sauce combination.

The results have been promising. The company's same-store sales rose 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2023. And foot traffic rose 7.4% in the quarter while giants like McDonald's and Starbucks saw declines, Chipotle said.

Brandt's newest challenge: a wave of videos from TikTokers who claim Chipotle's portion sizes have been shrinking. "There have been no changes in our portion sizes, and we have reinforced proper portioning with our employees," a Chipotle executive told The New York Times in a statement.

Andrea Brimmer, CMO and public relations officer, Ally Financial

Andrea Brimmer, CMO and public relations officer, Ally Financial
Ally Financial

Brimmer has been instrumental in getting brand growth for Ally Financial, while pioneering new approaches to marketing and sponsorship that move the industry forward.

Since around 2022, Brimmer has been driving positive change across the investment of brands in women's sports. This year marks the two-year anniversary of Ally's 50/50 pledge, with the aim of spending equally on women's and men's sports by 2027. She continued these efforts in 2023 with a first-of-its-kind media deal with Disney and ESPN, which included spending more than 90% on women's sports. In 2024, Ally became the official banking partner of the USGA, and both US Open golf tournaments, sponsored several women-funded and women-owned media sports properties, and worked with the Sports Innovation Lab to create the largest women's sports networking group.

The Ally logo is recognized by around three-quarters of sports fans, and women's sports fans, in particular, have a 71% higher likeability rate and 82% higher preference for the Ally brand, the company said.

Elsewhere, Brimmer has led Ally's streaming strategy. This included the March launch of the "Side Hustlers" reality series, which spotlights women entrepreneurs and successful investors. The Roku Channel series exceeded viewership projections and boosted visits to Ally.com by up to 17%. Ally also ran a streaming-only Super Bowl ad this year — when a 30-second linear TV spot cost upwards of $7 million — to emphasize the brand's marketing messages around saving money.

Brimmer's marketing team is also testing generative AI to make marketing productivity gains and cost savings. Using the Ally.AI platform's large language model chat and prompt functionality, a group of its marketers was able to reduce the time required to create content by up to two to three weeks and reported average time savings of up to 34%.

Ally says that overall, its brand value, as measured by Brand Finance, jumped by 30% this year, while its trust score grew by 10%, a testament to Brimmer's efforts.

Jonnie Cahill, CMO, Heineken USA

CMO Insider: Jonnie Cahill, chief marketing officer, Heineken USA
Heineken

Cahill is on a mission to "make moderation cool."

Heineken 0.0 debuted in the US in 2019 and rose to become the country's top-selling nonalcoholic beer, with sales of $77.45 million last year, according to Statista data.

Heineken 0.0 represents around 7% of the total Heineken franchise in the US and was the focus of many of the brewer's biggest marketing activations, like the Coachella music festival and major esports tournaments. Sampling was key at these events last year.

Last year, Heineken also debuted the lower-carb, lower-calorie 4% ABV Heineken Silver, to appeal to drinkers looking for a lighter alternative to traditional lagers. It launched with a campaign dubbed "All the Taste, No Bitter Endings" and was the title sponsor of the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November. As part of the Las Vegas Grand Prix activation, Heineken Silver became the first beer brand to advertise on the Las Vegas Sphere.

Overall, Heineken devotes 10% of its global media spending to messaging around drinking responsibility.

"We can make moderation cool, and that will have a massive societal impact," Cahill told Business Insider last year.

Lisa Caputo, EVP and chief marketing, communications, and customer experience officer, Travelers Insurance

Lisa Caputo, EVP and chief marketing, communications, and customer experience officer, Travelers Insurance
Travelers Insurance

Caputo uses data and new platforms to keep the insurance company ahead of the curve.

She helped launch the brand's first TikTok account that posts clips and player videos about the annual Travelers Championship PGA event. The account is currently promoting this year's upcoming event. Travelers also works with social and gaming creators to market the event to a younger audience than golf traditionally focuses on. For example, a six-hour Twitch livestream event raised about $50,000 for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. The livestream had 41,000 concurrent viewers, according to Travelers.

Last summer, Caputo launched a campaign aimed at tackling polarization and divisiveness called "Who cares?" The campaign showed how many people care about issues like forest fires, hunger, and natural disasters. And it targeted people like public officials, CEOs, influencers, and independent insurance agents.

Caputo's team is also using AI and machine learning to create content, including drafting articles, identifying audience groups, and conducting research. The team has developed tools that sales teams use to track marketing materials and monitor brand reputation on digital platforms and social media.

Caputo has been in the role since 2011 and previously worked in marketing at Citi. She was also previously a Deputy Assistant to former President Clinton and Press Secretary to former First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton during Clinton's first term in office.

Marcus Casey, CMO, BMW North America

CMO Insider: Marcus Casey, CMO, BMW North America
BMW Group

At the center of much of BMW North America's marketing success this year has been the "data spine" Casey helped engineer. It connects customer data across platforms and has become a central source for BMW's marketing and agency teams to access insights and real-time analytics to see what's working.

BMW's 2024 Super Bowl spot, "Talkin' Like Walken," was based on the insight that its "Ultimate Driving Machine" positioning had been imitated many times, but still remained the ultimate. The ad showed stars Usher and Ashley Park imitating Christopher Walken's voice and cadence but ultimately proving there's no one else like the original.

The New York Times, Esquire, and iSpot ranked it a top Super Bowl ad of 2024. The continuing digital marketing campaign after the big game helped drive a 267% increase in people visiting the automaker's website to design their own BMW i5. Other programs included event and sponsorship integrations and the return of BMW's Ultimate Driving Experience tour, which lets consumers test-drive its EVs around a track. Sales of BMW EVs grew 27.9% in the first three months of 2024 to 82,700.

Casey and his team are also investing in AI. They use Unreal Engine and creative automation to create personalized content at scale. The team is also using AI for tasks like predictive analytics, driving efficiency across the organization.

Emma Chalwin, CMO, Workday

CMO Insider: Emma Chalwin, CMO, Workday
Workday

Chalwin joined Workday last year after working in marketing roles at Salesforce and Adobe.

She's tasked with explaining the cloud company to its enterprise clients, who use the technology to manage human resources and finances. She's used big branding campaigns on TV to reach B2B marketers.

Following Workday's Super Bowl campaign last year that starred rock stars like Ozzy Osbourne and Joan Jett, Chalwin helped launch two commercials in April with a similar theme that featured Gwen Stefani, Billy Idol, and Travis Barker. The ads premiered during The Masters, a key time for reaching business executives. Within one month of launching, the ads drove 50% more visits year-over-year to Workday's website, according to the company.

And this summer, Workday is going on a bus tour in 15 cities to promote its products and clients.

Internally, Chalwin created a program called "CMO School" that includes a learning curriculum and training for skills like upskilling to help marketers grow their careers.

Chalwin is also focused on AI. Chalwin uses AI to cut out time-consuming tasks like creating templates for campaigns and data analysis.

Kim Gebbia Chappell, chief brand officer, Bobbie

Kim Gebbia Chappell, chief brand officer, Bobbie
Bobbie

By focusing on parents, not just products, this direct-to-consumer baby formula brand has become the fastest-growing player in its category, claiming to feed more than 4.5% of babies born in the US.

Chappell, chief brand officer since November 2023 and a four-year Bobbie veteran, has made advocacy a key brand plank, positioning Bobbie as a force on issues including federal support for new parents. The company advised legislators on drafting the 2024 Infant Formula Made in America Act, addressing issues behind 2022's infant formula shortage.

Overseen by Chappell, an early 2024 partnership with tennis star Naomi Osaka brightened the brand's halo, launching a grant for working parents while campaigning for federal paid leave. Because Osaka had been public about her decision not to breastfeed daughter Shai, her choice as spokesperson both elevated Bobbie's brand and aligned it with mothers facing similar challenges. More than 11,000 parents applied for grants.

Chappell's brand vision is getting results. With 72% revenue growth from 2022 to 2023, Bobbie has exceeded $100 million in revenue and won a $70 million investment. But Bobbie may have been too successful, too fast; in mid-May, the company paused online sales and new subscriptions until it opens a new manufacturing facility this summer.

Lee Anne Grant, chief growth officer, Babylist

CMO Inisder: Lee Anne Grant, chief growth officer, Babylist
Babylist

Grant's job is to give soon-to-be and new parents all the information that they need.

Babylist's main offering is a registry program for managing shopping for baby products, but the site has also expanded into content such as guides for the best products and health content.

Since Grant joined in 2020, Babylist's website traffic has increased 25% and reaches about 10 million unique users per month.

Grant's role combines the CMO job with head of sales for Babylist's media business. She helped develop a content studio called The Push, where the company's editors, designers, and social-media team work with brands like Nike and Wayfair to run campaigns targeting Babylist's audience.

One of the challenges for parents is sifting through endless amounts of advice and information. Grant has developed new ways to reach this audience through platforms like TikTok and a physical showroom in Los Angeles. The showroom features more than 35 brands, including Gap and Etsy.

Last year, Grant helped expand Babylist into health content with the acquisition and relaunch of Expectful. She also spearheaded a program that offers free breast pumps through insurance plans, and more than 80,000 breast pumps have been shipped.

Under Grant's leadership, Babylist had more than $400 million in revenue during 2023 — a 40% year-over-year increase, according to the company.

Grant previously worked in brand and business development roles at The Assembly, Brandless, and PopSugar.

Mayur Gupta, CMO, Kraken Digital Asset Exchange

CMO Insider: Mayur Gupta, CMO, Kraken Digital Asset Exchange
Kraken Digital Asset Exchange

Gupta has the tough job of getting consumers to trust crypto after the sector's quick boom and bust — and subsequent resurgence — over the past couple of years.

Since joining in 2022, he has used his background as CMO of brands like Gannett and Freshly to convey that Kraken Digital Asset Exchange is not only stable but ahead of innovation in the space.

In October, he spearheaded Kraken's first marketing campaign, which targeted people new to crypto. A commercial depicts crypto as inspirational within the financial world. The campaign appeared on LinkedIn, X, and out-of-home ads in places including London.

Gupta has also landed deals with creators like YouTuber and Twitch streamer Kitboga, crypto media company Bankless, and Williams Racing to make Kraken more of a household name. With Williams Racing, Kraken sponsors areas of F1 races called Fan Zones, where the brand aims to educate people about crypto.

Brad Hiranaga, chief brand officer, Cotopaxi

CMO Insider: Brad Hiranaga, chief brand officer, Cotopaxi
Cotopaxi

Sustainable outdoor apparel brand Cotopaxi has described 2023 as "the year of collaboration for good" at the company, in which it partnered with like-minded organizations that share its commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

It teamed up with HOKA on a sneaker and hip-pack collab. Later in the year, purchasers of the limited edition Headspace x Cotopaxi hip pack or T-shirt received a two-month Headspace membership and other exclusive mindfulness content. It also joined other brands as part of the Outdoor Industry Association to work with suppliers to reduce their emissions and advance research in this area.

Such efforts helped boost brand awareness from 28% in 2022 to 39.2% last year, the company said. The company grew 35% and surpassed $140 million in sales in 2023. What's more, the company said it kept 2.75 million fabric yards out of landfills, "which, if laid out, would stretch from Miami to Boston."

Continuing the partnership theme, Cotopaxi launched the Más Vida trade-in program earlier this year, working with Trove and Tersus Solutions, to encourage people to swap and buy used outdoor gear and apparel. It also became a sponsor of the Sundance Film Festival, providing coats to jurors and filmmakers.

Jill Kramer, chief marketing and communications officer, Accenture

CMO Insider: Jill Kramer, chief marketing and communications officer, Accenture
Accenture

Kramer has led an effort to transform Accenture's marketing and communications function. She temporarily paused the team's output to thoroughly measure the impact, reach, and engagement rates for every asset and function it was producing using the same SynOps technology Accenture uses externally with clients.

The result was huge efficiency gains. After reducing the content on Accenture.com by 50% and the number of pages on the site by 45%, users spent 32% more time on it. Accenture decreased social posts by 33%, which led to a 55% increase in engagement. And, by implementing a universal content system in collaboration with Adobe, the company reduced manual tasks by 55%, saving $1.4 million and boosting campaign performance by more than 50%.

Kramer and her team also worked to position Accenture as a catalyst for change with its "Reinvented with Accenture" global marketing campaign, which highlighted the company's work with clients.

This year, she's been a champion of disability inclusion, having become cochair of a new coalition designed to advance disability inclusion in the marketing and communications industry. Accenture and Disability:IN released a joint report that found companies that excel in their disability inclusion efforts generate more profit and revenue and are more productive.

Kramer has picked up various industry honors in the past year, including Adweek's B2B Innovation Lifetime Achievement Award.

Marian Lee, CMO, Netflix

CMO Insider: Marian Lee, CMO, Netflix
Netflix

Lee is the marketing force behind Netflix's shows and experiences.

She's responsible for taking individual Netflix shows and plugging them into culture to get consumers' attention. She's also tasked with building Netflix's brand amid big changes to the streamer, like the clampdown on password sharing, an ad-supported tier, and growing competition from other streamers.

Within the past year, Lee has spearheaded some of Netflix's biggest campaigns — many of which are offline with activations and billboards. Most recently, Lee has been touting the third season of the hit "Bridgerton" show with fan events, products from brands like International Delight and Williams-Sonoma, and sneak peeks of the show leading up to its premiere.

For "Squid Game," she launched an experience in Los Angeles where fans can compete in games inspired by the show. And for Jerry Seinfeld's "Unfrosted," billboards in high-traffic areas like New York and Los Angeles oozed Pop-Tart filling with crumbs falling on cars. "Unfrosted's" ad campaign also included scratch-and-sniff magazine ads.

The hit "Wednesday" show, a spinoff of the "Addams Family" franchise, went viral with moments including actress Jenna Ortega's TikTok dance. Season two of the series is currently filming and is sure to get a marketing push from Lee behind it.

Lee joined Netflix in 2021 and was promoted to CMO in 2022, having previously worked at Spotify and Condé Nast.

Greg Lyons, CMO, PepsiCo Beverages North America

CMO Insider: Greg Lyons, CMO, PepsiCo Beverages North America
PepsiCo

Lyons wants to grow newer drink brands like Starry and Bubly Burst while also keeping bigger brands like Pepsi and Mountain Dew leaders.

He handles marketing for PepsiCo's $28 billion portfolio of beverage brands in the US.

One of PepsiCo's newest products that Lyons has worked on is Starry, a lemon-lime soda that ran its first Super Bowl ad starring Ice Spice this year. And to tap into the sparkling water craze, he helped launch Bubly Burst — a line of products slightly sweeter than sparkling water with no added sugar. The launch of the product included a social, TV, and digital ad that played up Bubly Burst's fruit flavors.

For Mountain Dew, Lyons created a Super Bowl ad starring actor Aubrey Plaza to promote Baja Blast. Baja Blast started rolling out nationwide this year after only being available for limited periods of time or at Taco Bell restaurants.

And for Pepsi, Lyons rolled out a new logo and packaging for the brand's 125th birthday last year, including an experiential pop-up diner in New York where people could order food like Pepsi-infused pulled pork, and chicken and waffles with Pepsi butter and maple syrup.

Since taking on the CMO role of Pepsi's beverages in North America in 2017, annual sales have grown 30%, according to PepsiCo.

Kory Marchisotto, CMO, E.l.f. Beauty and president, Keys Soulcare

CMO Insider: Kory Marchisotto, CMO, E.l.f. Beauty and president, Keys Soulcare
E.L.F. BEAUTY

Marchisotto has used standout marketing and nascent media platforms to put E.l.f. Beauty on the map in an incredibly competitive makeup field.

E.l.f. returned to the Super Bowl this year with a star-studded cast — including "Judge Judy" Sheindlin, "Suits" star Gina Torres, and Meghan Trainor, among others — to showcase its bestselling $14 Halo Glow Liquid Filter. The ad came together in just seven weeks. Marchisotto said in an interview with Glossy earlier this year that this kind of speedy approach means E.l.f. consistently stays culturally relevant in its marketing.

E.l.f. has grown a reputation for creating buzzy products that go viral on social media. Its unlikely collaboration with the canned water brand Liquid Death this March was no exception. The pair's limited edition $34 metal-inspired "Corpse Paint" coffin-shaped makeup set sold out in 45 minutes and delivered 12 billion media impressions within two weeks of its launch.

E.l.f. has leaned into newer platforms like Roblox and TikTok to capture the attention of younger consumers. Its Roblox game E.l.f. UP! has surpassed 10 million visits and is one of the top-rated branded experiences on the platform. E.l.f. was also the first brand partner for a TikTok Shop Super Brand Day, which turbocharged its followers and sales.

Under Marchisotto's leadership, E.l.f.'s marketing budget has grown to 22% of net sales, which rose 77% last year. E.l.f. was the No. 2 brand in the color cosmetics category in the US in March, according to Nielsen, and it's the top cosmetic brand among teens, according to the Piper Sandler Spring 2024 survey.

Samantha Maltin, EVP, chief marketing & brand officer, Sesame Workshop

CMO Insider: Samantha Maltin, EVP, chief marketing & brand officer, Sesame Workshop
Sesame Workshop

By leveraging social channels, live activations, cause marketing, and brand partnerships, Maltin is helping make 54-year-old Sesame Workshop, its characters, and its IP as relevant as ever.

With a Sesame-Warner Bros. Discovery streaming deal set to expire next year, Maltin has aggressively amplified Sesame's profile. With 5.6 billion global views annually, Sesame Street's YouTube channel is in the top 0.02% of all channels in its category, the company said. Sesame's TikTok videos have drawn 99 million views. On Instagram, Oscar the Grouch launched in February 2024 and already has 48,500 followers; Cookie Monster launched in November 2023 and has 153,000. Sesame's own Instagram Reels presence has seen 3,400% surge in follower growth year-over-year, a rep told Business Insider.

In January, Maltin's team leveraged a single X post from Elmo into a social-media phenomenon. With children's mental health in mind, "Elmo is just checking in. How is everybody doing?" became X's No. 1 trending topic, reaching 218 million people. President Biden and brands like Target joined the conversation; more than 850 media outlets covered the moment.

Brand partnerships included Oscar the Grouch's appearance in a United Airlines campaign introducing lower-carbon sustainable aviation fuel, giving Sesame IP a values-aligned promotional platform. And this summer, in partnership with NBC, Sesame characters will broadcast live from the Olympic Village in Paris.

Stephanie McCarty, chief marketing and communications officer, Taylor Morrison

CMO Insider: Stephanie McCarty, CMO and communications officer, Taylor Morrison
Taylor Morrison

Through influencer marketing, partnerships, and social-impact efforts, McCarty has helped make the home-building brand Taylor Morrison top of mind among millennial and Gen-Z homebuyers.

Last year, Taylor Morrison formed a partnership with The Home Edit cofounders Clea Shearer and Joanna Tepin from the Netflix Series "Get Organized with the Home Edit." The "New Homes, New Zones" content series saw Tepin and Shearer share tips for homeowners looking to organize their new homes. Taylor Morrison homeowners also receive a book with tips specific to their property's floorplans as part of their closing gift. Taylor Morrison and The Home Edit are also set to feature in ABC's reboot of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," which is currently in development.

Elsewhere, Taylor Morrison has updated its website to become an all-in-one transaction tool for customers to shop for, reserve, and design their dream homes. And it's begun embracing TikTok with its "Real Talk" series to help answer questions about home ownership.

On the social-impact front, Taylor Morrison partnered with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center's "Home Away from Home" program. It's helping build 16 new homes in Gilbert, Arizona, that will provide free lodging for patients receiving long-term treatment or recovering from surgery.

Last year, sales conversions hit an all-time high with a rate of more than 50%, while brand awareness has increased by more than 15% since 2022.

Lisa McKnight, EVP and chief brand officer, Mattel

CMO Insider: Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and chief brand officer, Mattel
Mattel

2023 was a record-breaking year for Mattel, thanks in no small part to the "Barbie" movie, which brought in more than $1.4 billion in box office sales worldwide. Barbie and the distinctive pink brand asset became a cultural phenomenon last summer, which extended to events like the Oscars that included brand activations and a memorable Ryan Gosling performance of "I'm Just Ken."

The movie followed years of work by McKnight's team to position Barbie as the ultimate girl empowerment brand. This May, for instance, Barbie honored nine women athletes, including tennis star Venus Williams and Canadian soccer player Christine Sinclair, with dolls made in their likenesses.

Partnerships were a big theme of Mattel's marketing last year. McKnight's team helped Mattel collaborate with the NFL to launch official products like a Fisher-Price Little People Collector NFL series, American Girl NFL cheer uniforms, and a UNO deck featuring the 32 teams.

Looking ahead, McKnight will turn her marketing team toward bringing the power of Grayskull to movie theaters in 2026, when Amazon MGM Studios is set to release the "Master of the Universe."

Vineet Mehra, CMO, Chime

CMO Insider: Vineet Mehra, CMO, Chime
Chime

Mehra is working to make the financial tech company a more mainstream name. The firm offers banking services with no monthly fees.

Under his leadership, Mehra requires that 80% of Chime's ads feature members to make the ads feel authentic to consumers. The brand's ads also don't use stock images or jargon about the banking industry and instead feature quick stories from users about how they use Chime's products. One ad highlights how direct deposits arrive early and a feature that lets people find nearby fee-free ATMs. The casting calls for these ads have generated more than 56,000 written and 6,000 video testimonials since Mehra joined, according to the company.

Another campaign, "Paying Progress Forward," featured entertainer Wayne Brady and explored Brady's financial journey. It generated 368 million impressions and 115 million video views. Chime has also worked with former NFL player Marshawn Lynch.

Mehra's team also helped develop a card game called Dollars & Sense, which asks questions about money. The game was sold at Walgreens, Amazon, and TikTok.

Mehra has worked at Chime since 2022 and previously worked in marketing roles at companies like Good Eggs, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Johnson & Johnson, and Ancestry.com. Some of his previous campaigns addressed issues like genetic testing at Ancestry and reassuring people it was safe to shop during the pandemic at Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Aila Morin, CMO, Merit Beauty

CMO Insider: Aila Morin, CMO, MERIT Beauty
MERIT Beauty

Just three years since its launch, Merit Beauty's "clean beauty and minimalist makeup" has exceeded $100 million in sales. At launch, its Solo Shadow eye shadow reached a coveted No. 1 position among eye shadows at Sephora. Morin's marketing initiatives have bridged digital, retail, and direct-to-consumer to propel the brand's growth.

Morin herself voiced frustrations with eyeshadow brands in a Solo Shadow pre-launch TikTok post whose 1.5 million views helped fuel a 12,000-person product waitlist. As a retention tool on Merit Beauty's direct-to-consumer site, Morin created the Signature Bag, a free, reusable makeup bag whose limited editions ― including a collab with New York designer Proenza Schouler ― have become coveted collectibles. Merit Beauty's sales are now split evenly between DTC and retail – a notable benchmark, considering that only 17% of US adults have purchased cosmetics or makeup products online directly from a brand or manufacturer, according to Forrester. The mix is key to Merit Beauty's "high levels of profitability," a rep said.

While the beauty business often focuses on Gen-Z consumers, Morin has led Merit Beauty to embrace older fans, who tend to be more loyal and higher-spending. Half the brand's website visitors are between the ages of 25 and 45, with an equal share over 55 as under 25, positioning Merit Beauty as a cross-generational brand.

Morin's now leading Merit Beauty's global expansion. To promote its February 2023 launch in the UK, Morin relied solely on owned channels; at launch, one product sold every 30 seconds and averaged a nearly 6% conversion rate — nearly triple the 1.9% industry average for 2023.

Manu Orssaud, CMO, Duolingo

CMO Insider: Manu Orssaud, CMO, Duolingo
Duolingo

In the staid language-instruction category, Orssaud has elevated Duolingo with a cheeky brand identity that feeds off social-media notoriety and pop-culture hacking.

Duolingo's rotund brand mascot, Duo the Owl, has soared from TikTok fame to IRL stardom under Orssaud's creative direction, inserting itself into events like the Barbie movie premiere and Taylor Swift concert tailgates ― and gaining enormous visibility across platforms.

This year, the avian influencer also starred in Duolingo's first Super Bowl ad, overseen by Orssaud. Themed around the owl's posterior, it racked up more than 84 million impressions. Likewise, an April Fool's campaign featuring an ersatz "Duolingo on Ice" musical scored more than 80 million impressions. Across the board, Duolingo's social-media impressions grew to 3 billion in 2023, up 170% year-over-year ― and correlating with business growth, the company said.

Orssaud has also tapped unconventional partners to give Duolingo an edge. For its Japanese-language course, Duolingo aligned with Japanese streamer Crunchyroll to incorporate phrases from popular anime shows. Along with global press coverage, the partnership generated more than 40 million impressions across social platforms, Duolingo said.

While marketers grapple with AI's practical applications, Orssaud has applied the technology strategically. His team uses an AI-powered data scraper, built in-house, to identify trends from social comments. Orssaud has also encouraged Duolingo's brand group to apply ChatGPT to help predict cultural moments for the brand to leverage.

Ryan Ostrom, CMO, Jack in the Box

CMO Insider: Ryan Ostrom, CMO, Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box

Under Ostrom, Jack in the Box has married pop culture with consumer research and segmentation to help challenge the fast-food status quo.

Last year, Jack in the Box partnered with rapper Snoop Dogg to launch a new "Late Night Munchie Meal." The limited edition launch was also supported by a pop-up "Dogg in tha box" restaurant in Los Angeles. It became one of the brand's most successful campaigns, delivering a 13.4% year-over-year increase in late-night sales — with the Munchie Meal making up 20.3% of the total. It's planning a follow-up this year with Ice Cube with a Chicken-Tater Melt to continue to promote the late-night eating occasion.

Continuing the brand's theme of supporting the underdog, Jack in the Box looked to support its California community impacted by the history WGA writers' strike. The brand brought on board out-of-work horror screenwriters to create "Feeding Time," a short film to promote the return of the brand's Monster Tacos. The campaign amassed more than 1 billion media impressions and helped to sell 8.5 million tacos.

New product development has been key to the marketing strategy this year. Ostrom has also spearheaded the launch of the Smashed Jack, the chain's first new burger in eight years. In just one day, the chain sold 70,000 Smashed Jacks, and in two weeks, the burger was sold out everywhere. Ostrom helped drive one of Jack in the Box's strongest-ever transaction weeks with the Mint Mobile shake, in partnership with Ryan Reynolds, which was timed with St Patrick's Day. And last year, Jack in the Box became one of the first quick-service restaurants to begin selling a Boba tea drink.

Jessica Padula, VP of marketing and head of sustainability, Nespresso USA

CMO Insider: Jessica Padula, VP of marketing and head of sustainability, Nespresso USA
Nespresso

Padula wants to make the coffee brand relevant to audiences beyond coffee lovers.

In October, she spearheaded a live sports partnership with Netflix around the "Netflix Cup," a golf tournament that featured players from Netflix's golf show "Full Swing" and the racing show "Formula 1: Drive to Survive." Nespresso's branding and products were integrated into the tournament, which increased awareness by 35% and increased messaging association by 10%, according to Nespresso.

She also helped develop a campaign aimed at gamers with Twitch streamers. Nespresso worked with influencers to show how a small coffee machine fits into Twitch's growing lifestyle content. One video from the campaign generated more than 3.3 million impressions and was watched until the end by 88% of viewers.

Targeting Gen Z is particularly important to Padula. To promote iced coffee, her team designed a series of mini café events in places like an elevator at One World Trade Center in New York and Santa Monica's Pacific Wheel that equipped a small coffee machine to give out coffee and create content.

She also runs Nespresso's sustainability efforts, reflecting how younger audiences like Gen Z value social issues. Padula oversaw the expansion of Nespresso's recycling program from New York City to Jersey City, New Jersey. In recent months, participation in the program has increased by 2%, according to Nespresso.

Padula has worked at Nespresso for eight years and was elevated to the role of VP of marketing and head of sustainability last year. She was previously director of brand and communications and social media marketing manager, and has also worked in marketing roles at Swarovski and Famous Brands.

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, Mastercard

CMO Insider: Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, Mastercard
Mastercard

"We need to be Leonardo Da Vinci marketers … embracing the art and the science," Rajamannar exhorted in an October op-ed for Business Insider. Rajamannar himself has exemplified that approach, amplifying Mastercard's far-flung creative activations with advanced AI and other technology.

With the support of small businesses as a major brand objective, Rajamannar partnered with the social-impact tech company Create Labs to launch Mastercard Small Business AI, an online mentorship tool aimed at minority-owned businesses. Within Mastercard, Rajamannar oversaw the creation of Mastercard Digital Engine, which merges millions of data and brand content points into marcomms content­ ― and generates its own media buying. Campaigns run on the platform have outperformed benchmarks by up to 90% on CPM [cost per thousand impressions] and seven times on engagement, Mastercard said.

Rajamannar also foresaw the post-COVID craving for experiences among consumers, dedicating 70% of Mastercard's recent marketing budgets to experiential activations. During the 2024 Grammys, multiplatinum-selling artist SZA debuted a new song, "Saturn," during a Mastercard commercial. The Grammys initiative also integrated Mastercard's Priceless Planet Coalition tree-restoration initiative, a SZA-related sweepstakes, and a Fortnite activation dubbed Restore the Forest Speedrun. The integrated campaign generated 440 million media impressions, Mastercard said.

A proponent of purpose-driven marketing, Rajamannar also led Where to Settle, an AI-powered platform that offered Ukrainian refugees guidance on work opportunities and home listings across Poland. The platform tailored recommendations based on data points like job experience.

Andy Rebhun, chief experience officer, Cava

CMO Insider: Andy Rebhun, chief experience officer, Cava
Cava

Rebhun is turning Instagram and TikTok posts into content that elevates the fast-casual chain.

He is the former CMO of El Pollo Loco, who joined Cava in 2023 — shortly before the restaurant chain went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Over the past year, he has spearheaded Cava's social-media presence to capitalize on memes, humor, and ingredient-focused videos. He's specifically focused on highlighting user-generated content, including a contest in April that awarded three customers $5,000 in credit for sharing the ingredients of their bowls on TikTok. The winners also had their bowl featured on Cava's digital and app menu as a limited-time product.

Rebhun has also improved Cava's digital-ordering platform with features like "click to claim" emails for customers to receive loyalty points and a feature that allows people to visualize building their food when placing an order.

Cava plans to relaunch its loyalty program this year. The program allows customers to collect points that can be redeemed for products. As third-party cookies disappear, the loyalty program will also give Cava more first-party data used for marketing.

Rebhun is also in charge of Cava's innovation and works with the company's culinary team to create new ingredients for its Mediterranean products. In one example, Cava tested grilled steak in the Dallas and Boston markets before rolling it out nationally this summer. Cava generated $717 million in revenue in 2023, up 60% year-over-year, and opened 72 net-new restaurants last year.

Natalie Sunderland, chief marketing and communications officer, BNY

CMO Insider: Natalie Sunderland, global head of marketing & communications/managing director, BNY Mellon
BNY Mellon

Sunderland has transformed marcomms for BNY  — a financial-services giant that recently marked its 240th anniversary — in just three years. Internally, she consolidated disparate teams into a central department, enabling more cohesive marketing strategies across divisions. Externally, Sunderland is breaking boundaries. She aligned BNY with community-level initiatives, making it first among the world's 29 G-SIBs (Globally Systemic Important Banks) to designate minority-, veteran-, and woman-owned firms as bookrunners for bank-note offerings, roles typically taken on by large global financial institutions.

Sunderland helped BNY partner with New York bank MoCaFi to underwrite a $500 million debt offering with minority-owned firms. The firm also tapped BNY's Vaia platform to partner with MoCaFi on broadening payment options for unbanked people. To address gender issues in financial awareness, Sunderland forged an alliance with Poker Power, a women-led organization that uses poker to teach women confidence, decision-making skills, and risk assessment. Sunderland also helped launch SPARK Shares, which lets clients donate investment proceeds to nonprofits.

Along with reputational benefits, Sunderland's work has reaped results. Brand equity has jumped eight points within 18 months, BNY said.

Dara Treseder, CMO, Autodesk

CMO Insider: Dara Treseder, CMO, Autodesk
Autodesk

Since joining Autodesk in 2022, Treseder has been instrumental in driving brand awareness for the design industry software company, boosting new business, and increasing customer satisfaction scores. Her efforts have helped Autodesk exceed its marketing-contributed pipeline targets by 41% and increase campaign conversion rates by 30%, the company said.

In 2023, Treseder led five attention-grabbing brand activations that reached 178 million people, improved brand reach by 4%, and boosted web traffic referrals from social media by 44%. Those included a campaign during the Oscars, a takeover of the Sphere in Las Vegas in partnership with Marvel, and turning every ad on The New York Times homepage into error messages that led to its State of Design and Make report.

Treseder has also been shepherding the launch of Autodesk's generative AI 3D-modeling technology. That's included Autodesk's marketing department launching its own internal generative AI tool that has reduced video content development time to minutes from weeks and from thousands of dollars to just a few.

Treseder has been particularly successful in driving growth for Autodesk's education business, with users increasing by 20 million since she joined the company. Autodesk provides students and educators with its software for free as part of an effort to expand careers and the diversity of the talent pool in professions like architecture, engineering, and video-game design. The company also recently donated $5 million to Howard University as part of an effort to increase diversity in industries like mechanical engineering, where just 3% of engineers in the US are Black.

Treseder continues to champion public health, women's issues, and diversity outside her work at Autodesk as the chair of the Public Health Institute and her position on the board of financial services firm Robinhood. She also serves on the board of the Autodesk Foundation and, since joining, has helped it invest in eight organizations and startups that tackle problems ranging from labor shortages in South Africa to the decarbonization of building materials.

Massimiliano Tirocchi, cofounder and CMO, Trafilea

CMO Insider: Massimiliano Tirocchi, cofounder and CMO, Trafilea
Trafilea

In eight years, 31-year-old Tirocchi has built a billion-dollar brand group with more than 10 million customers worldwide from Montevideo, Uruguay. The rare founder who doubles as CMO, Tirocchi has made AI and data cornerstones of Trafilea's growth plan, harnessing analytics to fuel both media buying and creative.

To maximize a $70 million annual ad budget for Trafilea's e-commerce brands, including intimates store Shapermint, skincare brand The Spa Dr., and adaptogenic beauty line Revel Beauty, Tirocchi built his own AI platforms. One, dubbed Antares, automates ad budget allocation and optimization of over 500 campaigns and 10,000 ads annually. Altair, a second, generates ads tailored to countries, local slang, and channels. Trafilea claims the platforms have slashed creative process times by 80% and delivered 10 times the output.

Tirocchi's data-driven approach to marketing has helped propel intimates brand Shapermint to over $800 million in revenue and 10 million customers since its 2018 launch, making it a serious contender against legacy brands in a fiercely competitive category. Three of its products are No. 1 in their respective categories; Macy's and Walmart stores now carry the brand.

Tirocchi expects more marketing milestones for Trafilea brands this year. On tap: AI-generated TV spots and out-of-home ads, with Antares optimizing their budget and targeting.

Kyle Watson, CMO, Celsius Holdings

CMO Insider: Kyle Watson, chief marketing officer, Celsius Holdings
Celsius Holdings

Under Watson's leadership, Celsius, an energy drink brand, has grown from its fitness roots to become a broader lifestyle brand.

Music has become a cornerstone of this strategy. This year, the company expanded its Celsius Essential Vibes Tour to become the presenting sponsor of the Breakway multi-stop music festival. The activation includes on-site workouts, sampling, meet-and-greets, and branded giveaways. The beverage brand also held a "Cosmic Desert party" at Coachella to launch its new Space Vibe drink flavors, welcoming celebrities like Megan Fox, Barry Keoghan, and Halle Berry.

Celsius is still very much embedded in the fitness and sports category. Last year, under Watson's marketing leadership, Celsius became the official sponsor of Major League Soccer in the US and the Inter Miami CF team. She also expanded the brand's multi-year partnership with the Scuderia-Ferrari Formula 1 team to help support Celsius's international launches in new markets like Canada, the UK, and France.

Celsius achieved record sales last year, doubling revenue and surpassing $1 billion for the first time. Watson's marketing and key moves in new product development — such as introducing new flavors in the fizz-free range, and launching the larger-volume Celsius Essentials line for performance athletes — helped it grow to become the No. 3 energy drink in the US, with an 11.5% market share, according to Circana.

Ben Webley, CMO, Scopely

CMO Insider: Ben Webley, CMO, Scopely
Scopely

Webley helps drive awareness and play for mobile games like "Star Trek Fleet Command" and "Monopoly Go!"

He's a video-gaming marketer who previously worked at Meta, Zynga, and Electronic Arts before joining Scopely in 2021.

Webley launched a marketing campaign for last year's hit game "Monopoly Go!" that generated $2 billion in revenue 10 months after launching — a rare feat for a mobile game. He studied initial player activity to see what parts of the game resonated the most with people, depending on their location and demographic. These insights were then used to create hyperlocal campaigns targeted by the language and cultures of individual countries. This approach helped Webley develop an audience that is highly loyal and engaged with games. "Monopoly Go!" has more than 150 million downloads, and eight million daily players.

He has also worked on campaigns for Scopely's "Star Trek Fleet Command" and "Stumble Guys" through big acquisition platforms like Meta and emerging platforms like TikTok and Discord. For "Stumble Guys," Webley spearheaded a partnership that incorporated the social-media star MrBeast through challenges, stunts, and characters within the game. The campaign reached more than 380 million views on social media, and the game has more than 50 million monthly players.

100 million people play Scopely's games every month, according to the company.

Sherry Weiss, CMO, Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal

CMO Insider: Sherry Weiss, CMO, Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal
Dow Jones

Weiss is responsible for all the media organization's marketing that spans The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, and Barron's.

She's tasked with promoting the media group to advertisers and clients, as well as consumers. Last year, she hired three new agencies — Mother, Mediahub, and TBWA Worldwide — to shake up its advertising. In one example, a campaign called "Missing Articles" featured a blank front page of The Wall Street Journal to remind the public about reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained by Russia since 2023.

Her marketing efforts have also helped increase news subscribers from 2.43 million in 2019 to 5.7 million as of the fiscal third quarter.

She also oversees marketing for the professional services arm, which includes Dow Jones Risk & Compliance, Dow Jones Energy, and Factiva.

She most recently rolled out a multimillion-dollar brand campaign promoting The Wall Street Journal's strategy under editor-in-chief Emma Tucker. The campaign aims to broaden the publisher's business readership.

Weiss joined in 2022 and previously worked in marketing at Citi.

William White, CMO and SVP, Walmart US

CMO Insider: William White, CMO and SVP, Walmart US
Walmart

White's job is to make the largest retailer in the US more digital.

He led a campaign last year called "Welcome to your Walmart" that used celebrities like Becky G, Patrick Mahomes, and Barbie to help people find and buy specific types of products, such as beauty, sporting, and home items.

White also developed a presence for Walmart on Roblox called Walmart Discovered, where players can save virtual items and play games. Since launching in September, Walmart Discovered has more than 20 million visitors, according to Walmart.

During last year's holiday shopping, White created a series called "Add to Heart" based on the growingly popular holiday romcoms. The 23-part series ran across TikTok, YouTube, and Roku and allowed people to buy 230 products. White also spearheaded a Black Friday campaign inspired by the original "Mean Girls" movie that promoted holiday deals.

Andrea Zaretsky, CMO, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and E*Trade

CMO Insider: Andrea Zaretsky, CMO, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and E*Trade
Morgan Stanley

Banks have adopted AI for tasks including compliance and credit decisions. Zaretsky embraced it further, leveraging a partnership with OpenAI "to deliver relevant content and insights into the hands of financial advisors in seconds," according to Morgan Stanley. Zaretsky has also encouraged experimentation with OpenAI in marcomms, fueling content creation, curation, and amplification, the firm said.

Internally, Zaretsky has harnessed metaverse and hologram technology. At Morgan Stanley's annual sales meeting, she launched a metaverse art gallery themed around helping sales associates work with clients to visualize retirement dreams. And at the firm's annual BtoB conference, Zaretsky oversaw a program allowing attendees to meet financial advisors via hologram.

Along with social platforms like TikTok, Zaretsky has used traditional media and live activations to elevate E*Trade's brand at a challenging time for investors. She extended the lifespan of E*Trade's "Babies" Super Bowl commercial with a post-game campaign dubbed "Money Monday," which rewarded consumers for investing with Morgan Stanley. Events, including financial-education sessions, saw "record attendance," Morgan Stanley said; new accounts saw double-digit growth.

Zaretsky's results have gone beyond the bottom line, though. When Morgan Stanley acquired E*Trade in 2020, skepticism about the relationship "were in double digits," a Morgan Stanley rep told Business Insider. "They now sit at a de minimus amount."

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