Between the pressure to perform and keep up with a rapidly shifting marketing landscape, being a chief marketing officer is a tough gig in a normal year.
Throw in a global pandemic, and that job got even harder in 2020.
As COVID-19 rocked the global economy, supply chain and workforce, marketers took a crash course in agility. From quickly adapting messages to strike the right tone, to pausing media spend based on local regulations, getting it right and providing real value to consumers required next-level creativity and nimbleness, as well as a complete overhaul of marketing strategies as business was disrupted.
As the year went on, the global reckoning on racial injustice topped marketers' agendas, as brands aimed to rectify disparities both within their verticals and in the marketing discipline in productive ways. Calls for brand purpose and authenticity put pressure on marketers to create more than messages, while an emphasis on more diversity in the C-suite led corporations to look inward at their own organizations and outward at their supply chains.
The chief marketing officers on this list aim to capture the spirit of resilience, adaptability, diversity and innovation that the industry embraced this past year as the world turned upside down.
From companies such as Zoom, Amazon, FedEx and USPS, which served as lifelines during the pandemic, to Netflix, Clubhouse and TikTok, which kept us entertained, to brick and mortar giants like Walmart, Target and Home Depot that adapted to new consumer shopping habits, the brands on this list helped us navigate an incredibly difficult time.
A special nod to Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna, which achieved a scientific miracle by bringing a COVID-19 vaccine to market within a year of the outbreak.
With the average CMO tenure slipping again this year to just 40 months, the job of the modern marketer continues to get more challenging every year. These 50 creative problem solvers demonstrate the caliber of talent this industry has to offer.
We also recognize that this list by means covers all of the hardworking, innovative and boundary pushing chief marketers out there. We see you and appreciate your work.
— Alison Weissbrot, editor of Campaign US.