The Marketing Society Leader of the Year 2016: The Nominees

Presenting the shortlist for The Marketing Society Marketing Leader of the Year 2016, in association with Marketing. The winner, as voted for by readers of Marketing and members of The Marketing Society, will be announced at the Society's Excellence Awards on 15 June at The Artillery Garden, HAC. Read on and cast your vote by 5pm on 20 May.

Marketing Leader of the Year shortlist 2016

Matthew Barwell

Chief marketing officer, 


Barwell’s role just got tougher, but the Diageo veteran is the best person to navigate Britvic’s future amid increasing scrutiny and regulatory pressure over levels of added sugar in soft drinks. 

No surprise, then, that he is focused on inspiring children to get more active. Partnering Tough Mudder, the obstacle-adventure event company, to launch Fruit Shoot Tough Mudder was a masterstroke. 

Meanwhile, Barwell has played a lead role in encouraging advertisers to reconsider their approach to marketing to children, to restore public trust. For its part, Britvic has committed to not advertise to children under 12 or use licensed characters in marketing. 

Despite last year’s success of pocket-sized Squash’d, creating a £15m category in a stagnant market, Barwell is not resting on his laurels. 

Nina Bibby

Marketing and consumer director, 


O2’s sponsorship of England Rugby put Nina Bibby and her team in the spotlight last year. The World Cup hosts may not have made past the group stage, but O2 pushed England fans to make the home team giants by "wearing the rose". 

Under Bibby’s leadership, O2’s consistent achievements in rewriting the rules of the mobile sector
cemented its place as The Marketing Society’s Brand of the Year 2015. 

From the success of its Priority Moments loyalty programme to its important work on building the biggest mobile-recycling programme of its type in Europe, O2 is a force to be reckoned with. 

Bibby also oversaw the introduction of a next-day phone-delivery service, as well as a partnership with the NSPCC to educate families on online safety. 

Mark Evans

Marketing director, 

Direct Line Group

Evans is determined to change the way we think about insurance. Responsible for brands including Churchill and Green Flag, and with a committed focus on restoring trust and value to the sector, he wants consumers to re-imagine Direct Line as a ‘fixer’. 

A Pulp Fiction-inspired Winston Wolf campaign has re-energised the brand – in an interview with The Guardian, Evans said the campaign launch led to Direct Line "trending on Twitter, which I’m confident is an insurance first". The ads promoted new offers including a ‘photo diagnosis’ service to speed up claims. 

But it’s not just about flashy advertising. Evans has also invested in experience, empowering customers to interact with the insurer via their chosen channel, including Twitter, Facebook and webchat.  

Anna Hill

Chief marketing officer, 

The Walt Disney Company UK and Ireland

There’s a new kind of Disney heroine in town – she doesn’t wear pink and she’s better at fighting than falling in love. Star Wars pilot Rey and Frozen traveller Anna are two brave characters inspiring young girls. 

It doesn’t stop there. Under Hill’s leadership, Disney is using its characters’ influence on children to encourage healthy living. 

The entertainment brand increased its investment in Public Health England’s ‘Change4Life’ campaign. 

For December’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, merchandise included a water bottle, in an attempt to get children to drink water rather than fizzy drinks, and a tie-up with Danone on yoghurt. 

It’s something Hill is passionate about: "This is about how we use our characters for good," she says. 

Kenny Jacobs

Chief marketing officer, 


Jacobs reckons the bravest thing he’s ever done is accept the CMO role at Ryanair. "Look at how it’s turned out, how we improved the brand and trust," he said. 

He’s a marketer on a mission, transforming Ryanair from an outspoken budget airline into a brand that wants to make cheap flying better. 

Since his arrival, Ryanair has invested in improving the customer experience, with a better website, a mobile app and focus on data. 

Even better, his straight-talking CEO, Michael O’Leary, has been quieter; replaced with conversations about the brand and the business. 

"No one calls me a marketing genius for saying ‘Let’s be nice to customers’, but I’m most proud of the speed at which we’ve done it," says Jacobs. 

Alistair Macrow 

Senior vice-president and
chief marketing officer, 

McDonald’s UK, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland

McDonald’s has undergone a step change in marketing on Macrow’s watch, becoming more agile in its approach to reach audiences. This includes using its own YouTube channel, Channel Us, to target young people and content including a Jessie J gig on a London bus. 

Macrow’s strong retail background, including roles at Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Blockbuster, ensures he’s well-placed to help the fast-food chain navigate this brave, new world. "We are, for the first time, engaging audiences on their chosen channels and on their own terms," he says. 

Meanwhile, McDonald’s is rolling out table service across 400 restaurants in the UK and making sure its customers are aware of the strides it has made in evolving the contents of its Happy Meals for children. 

Sarah Manley

Chief marketing officer, 


Manley has worked in close partnership with Burberry’s creative director, Christopher Bailey, since 2001 – and it shows. 

The luxury brand offers an example of best practice in how digital can embed and strengthen consumer relationships. 

Under Manley’s leadership, Burberry was early to digital and has built an impressive online following – more than 38m across 19 global social-media platforms. The label’s shows can even be followed on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. 

From selling through its own social networks and marketing via video-streaming app Periscope and photo-sharing app Snapchat, Burberry is one of fashion’s most dynamic, responsive and consumer-facing brands. 

At its London Fashion Week show in February, the brand announced a ‘see now, buy now’ strategy, meaning shoppers can buy clothes as soon as they have been seen on the catwalk. 

Alison Orsi

Vice-president marketing,
communications and citizenship 

IBM, UK and Ireland

Most CMOs, when quizzed on the greatest challenge ahead, talk about the pace of technological change. 

This is something Orsi is will versed in. Indeed, in a marketing world awash with data, she is on the front foot. 

Orsi is a true renaissance marketer and sees the potential in combining data with behaviour, science with art. 

She is also working hard to encourage children to get excited about technology. 

"STEM skills are becoming increasingly important, so that we, as an economy, can maintain our record of scientific discovery and innovation," she says. 

Orsi is not a fan of silos and has suggested that the world of B2B versus B2C marketers is no more: "We are all customer to business (C2B)." 

To vote, visit, Have your say on Twitter: tell us who you are voting for @TheMarketingSoc and @MarketingUK #msocawards

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