Meet the winners of this year’s CMO Vanguard Awards. By spearheading efforts that are culture focused, customer first and data driven, these marketing execs are finding new ways to make their brands both of the moment and ahead of the curve.
On the night of the Super Bowl, Hulu attached itself to the sports world’s biggest story—the future of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The resulting spot, in which Brady confirmed he wasn’t retiring while pitching the service’s offerings, marked another cheeky iteration on “Hulu Has Live Sports” campaign, in which professional athletes cashed in while promoting Hulu.
“We wanted to tap into a conversation that was alive and vibrant, and combine it with a campaign that has broken through,” explains Campbell, who was promoted from CMO to president in February.
The numbers suggest the strategy is working. In a competitive streaming space, Hulu is growing: The service had 30.7 million subscribers in February, even before new programming from FX flooded the platform in March. While Campbell is tasked with continuing the company’s upward trajectory, including a 2021 international push, Hulu’s marketing efforts will continue to center on the programming that makes the service beloved by millions.
“At the end of the day, our shows are the heart of Hulu,” says Campbell.
In her more than three years at LinkedIn, Selcher has quickly risen through the ranks. She started in her latest role, that of CMO, earlier this year, expanding her purview to oversee the brand’s massive international presence. Previously the vp for brand, communications and social impact, Selcher led a team of over 150 in offices around the world as she worked to develop consistent messaging for the growing company.
Her hard work paid off. In her vp role, Selcher’s rollout of a rebranding effort—including changes to the logo, typography and colors—extended the professional networking brand to younger generations. The award-winning messaging helped LinkedIn grow to the more than 675 million users it has today.
“We really understand what our members and customers need from us,” Selcher told Adweek at the time. “They want us to be telling the stories and doing the things we’re doing in the world. For 16 years, we’ve had the same vision and the same mission. They wanted us to tell that story in a more human, more consistent, more approachable way.”
When you run marketing for a service that released nearly 400 new shows and movies in 2019 alone, you might be tempted to take a one-size-fits-all approach. But that’s not how Lee-Joe, who joined the streaming giant in July, does things. The campaign for 6 Underground featuring Ryan Reynolds was irreverent, while a transformation of Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood into 1975 promoting The Irishman required fans to engage by telling participating retailers that “Jimmy sent” them.
Lee-Joe’s job also involves keeping fans engaged in shows between seasons. A teaser for the fourth season of Stranger Things that dropped in February, for example, became the service’s most-ever-retweeted trailer, and was the service’s most-commented-on post on Instagram.
Lee-Joe says she will continue looking for the right balance between show-level promotion and overall brand building to keep Netflix’s global fans more tuned in than ever. “We are focused on building deep affinity and long-term loyalty to the Netflix brand,” she says, “so we’re constantly asking ourselves how we can deliver more value to our consumers.” —Kelsey Sutton
Maria Dillon Kemp
WeWork made coworking spaces mainstream, but competitor Convene, which offers both flexible work environments and facilities for corporate meetings and events, is looking to take over the throne. And Dillon Kemp is at the center of those efforts. “Nine months ago, Convene and all the other flexible office operators were playing for No. 2,” says Dillon Kemp, who was named to the top marketing post in December. “Now the spot for No. 1 is open, and people are responding to our messaging.”
Tasked with attracting individual and corporate customers to Convene, Dillon Kemp plans to build on the company’s success with experiential. At the commercial real estate CoreNet Global Summit in October, Convene erected a two-story pop-up that netted more than $8 million in new business. She’s also leading behind-the-scenes work, like streamlining internal messaging and navigating broader discussions about the coworking industry.
Convene is pushing into global markets with two London locations, and Dillon Kemp will use the opportunity to continue taking calculated risks. “Innovation in our marketing plans is the best way we will set ourselves apart,” she says.
Since Brandt joined Chipotle in 2018, the restaurant chain that helped establish the fast-casual segment has made a marked turnaround in how consumers view the brand. The company had a busy year in 2019, beginning by teaming with Postmates to offer free delivery during the college football championship series in January and again during Super Bowl weekend. The savvy move was a page out of direct-to-consumer brands’ marketing strategies.
To bookend the year, Chipotle cooked up a new restaurant design to feed its growing mobile business. The quick-service Mexican chain’s digital operation was already a billion-dollar business. But according to Brandt, Chipotle hopes to further capitalize on this success with restaurant features such as walk-up windows and better placement of its digital pick-up portals.
Both moves built on the introduction of the “For Real” ad campaign launched in 2018, which repositioned Chipotle as a lifestyle brand, and emphasized its use of fresh ingredients, telling the stories of what goes into its food. The results? Growth in both the company’s sales and its stock price. —Richard Collings
This past year under Goldin, Lego launched its first global brand campaign in 30 years. The message of “Rebuild the World” is meant to inspire kids to use their imagination—and Lego bricks. To communicate the idea, a roughly two-minute animated film took viewers inside a child’s mind and featured characters past and present from the Lego universe.
This inventive initiative was inspired by a slump in sales—growth was up 5% during the first half of the year, a decline compared to past years—and is part of Lego’s broader efforts to remind consumers of its initial value proposition, learning through play. The ad campaign came on the coattails of a number of efforts, including new products such as learning sets and systems that aim to spark an interest in STEM, as well as its digital platform, Lego Life, which offers children a way to connect with the brand online. The company also teamed with organizations via its Lego Foundation, such as a $100 million partnership with Sesame Street Workshop to provide Legos to children living in refugee camps.
As Goldin said during a presentation at Cannes in June: “Retail landscape changes. New digital games are coming out. Kids get into other things. You can’t avoid not being challenged, but you have a choice. You can either be disrupted, or you can embrace the changes and leverage them to continue to develop, delivering on your purpose.”
Under Flatley, McDonald’s made a number of big moves this past year. In September, the fast-food chain named Wieden + Kennedy New York as its new lead creative agency in the U.S., shaking up its advertising roster. The decision was made after a comprehensive review of the company’s marketing strategy. McDonald’s has also been rolling out a new visual identity that seeks to simplify brand elements from the logos to the interior design of its restaurants, courtesy of Publicis Groupe design firm Turner Duckworth.
Also on Flatley’s watch, McDonald’s made its largest acquisition in 20 years with the purchase of Dynamic Yield in March for a reported $300 million. The deal bolstered the restaurant chain’s digital transformation by adding the Dynamic Yield’s personalization abilities to its tool belt. McDonald’s is using the technology in its digital drive-throughs, giving its signage the ability to change food recommendations based on the time of day or the weather, as well as feature menu options that are trending. And then there’s McDonald’s branded clothing line, which launched in December and can now be bought online year-round.
Meanwhile, with Flatley—who joined the company in 2017—leading the way, McDonald’s has been driving same-store sales growth with promotions, store upgrades and a greater focus on technology.
Two words best sum up Machado’s year: “Whopper Detour.” The award-winning campaign, which nabbed a Grand Prix in the Direct Lions and six gold Lions across two categories at Cannes, resulted in 1.5 million Burger King app downloads and 3.5 billion earned media impressions—all as a result of telling consumers they could unlock a one cent Whopper if they visited a rival McDonald’s location. It was a modern twist on a classic direct marketing campaign and produced a 37-to-1 return on investment, the burger chain claimed.
To cap off the year, Burger King partnered with video game publisher Activision to celebrate the release of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot in October. It provided fans of the video game an opportunity to enjoy food from its Burger Town restaurant in real life. Burger King transformed one of its locations in Long Beach, Calif., into the fictional restaurant for a day, and was open to the public, serving menu items inspired by the game.
And last month, the burger chain had a hit again, this time with an unlikely premise: showing a Whopper slowly succumbing to mold to underscore that the popular sandwich no longer contains artificial ingredients and can degrade naturally. As Machado told Adweek when the campaign launched: “We created a path to be more comfortable with work that is bold and challenges the rules of advertising.”
Villagomez oversaw the company’s biggest marketing shift in early December, when it unveiled its new tagline, “How doers get more done.” (It replaced “More saving. More doing,” which was launched in 2009.) The change shifted Home Depot’s focus from lower prices to capability, as well as built on its brand platform of being handy around the home. The fresh catchphrase is being featured in the home-improvement retailer’s digital outreach, social media and television ads, which were first aired during the SEC championship football game.
Notably, the tagline also showcases the retailer’s progress in creating a more seamless shopping experience across its stores and online. One of Home Depot’s TV ads, for example, highlighted its mobile app, which features image search and a product and inventory locator. Earlier in the year, Home Depot made an appeal to those in the process of moving to a new home by rolling out in-store workshops, how-to materials and social media outreach, replete with a mover’s landing page, all in an effort to capture that audience. —Richard Collings
With the wireless industry at a critical juncture as carriers unveil 5G networks, Scotti has set Verizon apart by crafting emotional stories around what might otherwise be a dry, technical concept. Whether it’s a Super Bowl ad about how faster speeds help first responders or an Oscars spot highlighting how families rely on the service in tough situations, Scotti’s marketing department always looks for a moving human angle on the next generation of connectivity.
That strategy is paired with on-the-ground activations that let people experience the technology firsthand, like sponsored gaming competitions featuring NFL players and esports stars or interactive experiences in Los Angeles and New York that virtually transported people to the Academy Awards red carpet. “You have to think about how 5G will affect some of the biggest problems in society,” says Scotti, “all the way from healthcare to access to communication.” —Patrick Kulp
Lewnes has managed to deftly expand Adobe’s marketing arm to include anyone with access to Photoshop through a series of campaigns that elevate work from users of the company’s creative suite and emphasize a sense of community among these digital artists. The sentiment was perhaps best expressed in a recent campaign that debuted during the Oscars, a dazzling visual ode to the concept of creativity and its democratization through Adobe’s software.
The company has also driven that user-empowerment theme home through creative contests, such as a fan-art competition judged by Billie Eilish that drew 8,000 entries or a challenge to remix the Terminator: Dark Fate trailer. “One of the coolest things we do at Adobe is cocreate with our communities,” Lewnes says. “Empowering everyone to express their creativity is at the heart of the company, and it’s really inspiring to see this come to life.” —Patrick Kulp
O’Brien has held numerous leadership roles within Deloitte since joining the accounting and consulting giant in 1985. But she began reinventing the company’s b-to-b marketing strategy when she was appointed its first U.S. CMO in 2015 and global CMO in 2018. O’Brien launched “Make Your Impact,” the company’s first global ad campaign, which for the past year has aimed to build awareness in 20 countries across three areas—digital, transformation and workforce—about the way the company helps customers.
“The global campaign is successful because it wasn’t a dictate. Deloitte’s business leadership, brand and marketing community, and our agency partners came together with diverse ideas to create a unified strategy and purpose-led message,” O’Brien says. “That diversity of thought is the key to innovation and the strength of Deloitte—312,000 people from around the world—individually, in small and large teams, and as a connected organization, making an impact that matters.” —Ian Zelaya
Johnson joined PayPal in January 2019 and says it is the brand’s holiday campaign that year, “Give Better,” that stands out as the effort “which brought to life our values as a company.”
Through “Give Better,” PayPal encouraged consumers to support small businesses with a shoppable holiday-window experience in New York. It also sought to inspire donations to charitable causes by teaming up with Pose actor and activist Billy Porter and the organization behind Giving Tuesday. To start, PayPal matched donations by 10%. It also shared “stories of generosity from around the world” to encourage additional contributions, volunteering and acts of kindness. As a result, PayPal says more than 1 million customers in 184 markets donated $106 million on Giving Tuesday 2019. In a similar vein, PayPal Australia launched a #BuyFromTheBush to encourage shoppers to buy gifts from drought-affected small businesses.
“Since joining PayPal last year, it has been a privilege to be able to champion the company’s two-sided network through thoughtful and considered marketing,” says Johnson, “connecting our millions of consumers with thoughtful, impactful merchants around the world.” —Lisa Lacy
The start of 2020 has been anything but quiet for Google vet Twohill, whose team has already managed to create three different ads that ran during this year’s Grammys, Oscars and Super Bowl. But that’s not all that’s keeping her busy: Over the past few months, Google’s conducted more than 15 tests around the world to prove YouTube’s ability to provide the same reach as TV like-for-like. “The results have been strong from the U.S. to the U.K. to Japan,” she says.
Twohill is also focused on improving Google’s “in-flight agility,” which essentially involves adjusting a campaign while it’s running as opposed to after it’s wrapped. According to Twohill, Google routinely optimizes 30% of its marketing spend while the campaign is in-flight thanks to capabilities like automation of decision making, smarter algorithms and identification of key data signals. “This makes our money work harder, smarter,” she says. —Minda Smiley
Under Hernando-Presse’s leadership, Danone united the international food company’s thousands of marketers under a portfolio of over 100 wide-ranging brands, from plant-based products to specialized nutrition. She brought Danone together to reframe and strategize its vision of “One Planet. One Health,” as it innovated to become part of a healthier world.
Hernando-Presse has also initiated new consumer research techniques and oversaw the creation of The Collective, Danone’s international marketing community. Her forward thinking and ideation fit into the broader organization’s commitment to establishing solutions for food trends that are yet to come, like research into infants’ immune system development. —Sara Jerde
When looking to fill the top marketing position at Unilever last year, CEO Alan Jope said he was looking for something more than just a CMO. Indeed, he wanted a “CMO++.” Enter Conny Braams, a 30-year Unilever veteran who began her role as the CPG giant’s chief digital and marketing officer in January 2020. Previously, Braams served as evp of Unilever Middle Europe and general manager of Unilever Benelux, where she led efforts to transform the region’s digital and marketing capabilities.
Now she’s tasked with turning the 90-year-old British-Dutch company into a modern organization built for the future. One of the first big moves made with her at the helm: Unilever pledged to stop marketing food and beverages to kids by the end of 2020 due to concerns over childhood obesity. “Our promise is a genuine commitment to make and market products to children responsibly,” Braams wrote on her LinkedIn account. —Paul Hiebert
For Duncan, who did stints at Under Armour and Nike before joining the Jacksonville Jaguars, marketing technology isn’t about an arms race. “It’s not about having something just for the sake of having it,” he tells Adweek. “We want to make sure it’s meaningful to our fans.”
In light of this approach, last season the Jaguars amplified the organic buzz surrounding backup rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, a sixth-round draft pick known for his mustache, jorts, headband and aviator sunglasses. The franchise created AR filters to turn fans into Minshew, sent Minshew merchandise to influencers and teamed up with ESPN to create a video starring the young athlete alongside elder doppelganger Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. What became known as Minshew Mania boosted apparel sales and social engagement across all platforms. An October home game against the New Orleans Saints saw $100,000 in incremental ticket sales, placing it within the top five revenue-generating games in the team’s 25-year history. —Paul Hiebert
Much of what Zarate-Bayani has spent the past year doing is preparing and testing for the upcoming season. Not only are the Los Angeles Rams on the verge of releasing a new mobile app and debuting a new logo, along with rebranded colors, uniforms and helmets, but the team is also moving to a new venue. SoFi Stadium, located in Inglewood, Calif., and scheduled to open in July 2020, will feature a double-sided, oval-shaped video board called the Oculus. Suspended from the roof above the field, the giant screen, which measures 120 yards long and 50 feet high, can be programmed to display whatever content the organization desires.
For Zarate-Bayani, the technology allows her to reimagine what’s possible for sports entertainment. “We’re really thinking of it as an end-to-end story production with the game being the center,” she says, noting that her approach involves using data to be deliberate about which story gets told. “On a day that we won, this is how we engage and round out the story. On a day that we didn’t do so well, this is how we engage and round out the story to keep our fans coming back.” —Paul Hiebert
Lucio joined Facebook as global CMO in August 2018, after more than three years in a similar role at HP. He immediately began efforts to repair the social network’s tarnished image, starting by implementing a global consumer marketing strategy. “We are here to build brands that stand the test of time, and this takes time, consistency and focus,” he says. “Our focus has been on rebuilding trust and driving value for people who use our products and services.”
He led the company’s move to new creative lead agencies for each of its family of applications, with a focus on diversity and inclusion, saying, “I believe that to drive diversity, we need holistic and systemic change across our own teams, agency partners and production houses.”
Lucio kicked off Facebook’s “More Together” campaign, including the company’s first-ever Super Bowl ad. And he oversaw the rollout of Facebook’s first-ever corporate logo last November in an effort to differentiate the company from its apps. —David Cohen
After two years as Cadillac’s CMO, Wahl now oversees GM’s entire global marketing strategy. She’s responsible for telling audiences about the brand’s electric ambitions, as GM seeks to make cars with “zero emissions” by the end of the decade. Enlisting LeBron James for its Super Bowl commercial this year, GM reintroduced the Hummer, once seen as an elephantine excuse for male masculinity, as an entirely electric and effortlessly silent vehicle.
Wahl also partnered GM’s Buick brand with Amazon, integrating Alexa into the driving experience. Drivers have the ability to have an Amazon package shipped directly to their parked Buick. “If you’re going to develop even better experiences … Alexa is the key player there,” says Wahl. “That kind of technology is moving up pretty significantly in terms of purchasing decisions.” —Ryan Barwick
While some brands pay millions to appear during the Super Bowl, Chang’s 49ers actually got to play in the game. To keep fans of both Joe Montana and Jimmy Garoppolo interested, he’s invested in the team’s “Faithful Then, Faithful Now” campaign, highlighting the squad’s hall of fame history with an eye on the future of the franchise. Chang has also turned to TikTok, where apparently mascots perform better than athletes, to reach younger audiences the team wouldn’t otherwise address. “Winning certainly drives engagement, but it can’t all be about winning,” says Chang.
While fans may have noticed the team’s partnerships with Pepsi and Levi’s, it’s the partnership with SAP’s Silicon Valley office that’s actually changing the fan experience, as the software company tracks data points along their journey, from ticket volumes at each gate to concessions sales and inventory, allowing the team to stay ahead of any pain points during game day. —Ryan Barwick
Before moving to Hyundai in October, Zepeda was a mainstay at the brand’s in-house agency, Innocean, making her transition to the auto brand seamless. In fact, Zepeda was still with the creative agency during the early stages of what would become her first hit, Hyundai’s Super Bowl commercial.
The star-studded spot featured a range of Boston-born celebrities like Chris Evans and John Krasinski speaking with an exaggerated Massachusetts inflection, introducing Hyundai’s new remote parking technology, Smart Park (“Smaht Pahk”). The spot tallied 43,000 mentions across social platforms, 93,000 site visits to Hyundai’s website and more than 42 million YouTube views, almost double the amount of last year’s spot—walking the fine line between a celebrity-centric approach and an emphasis on Hyundai’s new features. —Ryan Barwick
In an industry that isn’t exactly known for comfort or reliability, Delta routinely ranks among the world’s most reliable and innovative airlines. And it shows on the bottom line, as this year Delta brought in $47 billion in total revenue, a best for the carrier. Mapes, a 27-year Delta veteran, credits the fact that he and his team routinely look outside of the travel category for inspiration.
“We think of ourselves as much more than just an airline. We think of ourselves as a consumer brand,” Mapes told Adweek at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Delta headlined this year’s keynote. In 2019, the airline introduced hyper-local campaigns in metro hubs like New York, releasing a “docu-series” that highlighted the city’s tight, uncomfortable spaces, juxtaposed with Delta’s spacious first-class cabins. —Ryan Barwick
In the two years since Tifford joined WW International, she’s played a large role in ushering in a new era for the company formerly known as Weight Watchers, one that’s more focused on health and wellness than pounds on a scale. And she’s touched various aspects of the business along the way, helping relaunch its product line with refreshed packaging as well as forging partnerships with unconventional organizations like Daybreaker, which hosts alcohol-free dance parties around the world.
For Tifford, 2019 was all about launching, listening and—perhaps most important—iterating based on feedback. For instance, when members and consumers expressed concerns that WW had strayed too far from its original focus on weight loss, her team was quick to make amends in its advertising.
“We iterated in our campaign to address that and really bring weight loss to the core,” she notes. —Minda Smiley
Sweetgreen’s accomplished what many startups aim to do but don’t always achieve: reinvent a category to make it fun and exciting. For Sweetgreen, it meant making a salad feel like a new and radically different lunch option for office workers across the country. With more than 100 stores nationwide, including a shop in a new market—Houston—Ru’s paving a path of success and nationwide recognition for the brand. The salad shop’s also expecting to expand its “outpost” service (which delivers Sweetgreen to corporate offices) to 2,500 locations by the end of 2020.
Last year, the company released its first national video and print campaign, dubbed “Follow Your Greens,” highlighting what people love to put in their Sweetgreen orders. “Our goal at Sweetgreen is to create a brand that can make an impact on the food system,” Ru says. “In 2019, we set out to get stronger, not just bigger.” —Ann-Marie Alcántara
Dirk-Jan “DJ” van Hameren
Even for an iconic brand like Nike, it’s not easy to capture the world’s attention. But under Hameren’s leadership, Nike celebrated 30 years of its “Just do it” tagline, kicking off the anniversary in a bold way with its “Dream Crazy” campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Created by Wieden + Kennedy Portland, Ore., the ad featured Kaepernick telling viewers to “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Despite criticism, the campaign won two Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Lions and added a reported $6 billion in brand value. —Ann-Marie Alcántara
Daniel Cherry III
Since being appointed CMO in 2018, sports and entertainment marketing pro Cherry has launched the video-game company’s global esports leagues, and continues to evolve his innovations. For example, games for the first two seasons of Overwatch League were held mostly in Los Angeles. But this year, the league’s 20 teams are traveling city to city as part of the brand’s effort to reach more fans across the U.S. and open new revenue streams. In January, Activision Blizzard launched a second franchised esports league for Call of Duty, which consists of 12 teams.
Together, the leagues have 32 teams representing 22 cities and states across six countries and three continents. The teams compete in weekly live, ticketed events in their home markets, but fans around the world also stream the competitions on platforms like YouTube Gaming, OverwatchLeague.com and CallofDutyLeague.com. According to Cherry, Activision Blizzard Esports has sold out back-to-back Overwatch League Grand Finals events at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2018 and the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in 2019.
Cherry has also led efforts to make esports more inclusive. The brand has released videos in 2019 spotlighting women who work for Overwatch League and members of the LGBTQ community who are fans. In order to succeed in marketing today, he says brands need to “move at the speed of culture” rather than on a strict planning schedule, and be open to new people and ideas.
“In order to remain in touch with the masses, you must have a radically inclusive organization that reflects global pop culture. You must embrace the unknown and experiment with a consumer-first or fan-first mindset,” he says. “You have to look outside yourself to ensure you’re not hiring clones. I hate the old adage, ‘Well, they’re not a good cultural fit.’ You should question your corporate culture if it doesn’t reflect the culture.” —Ian Zelaya
Lara Hood Balazs
Since joining Intuit in 2018, Balazs has taken the financial software company’s “powering prosperity around the world” mission statement beyond just product offerings. In fall 2019, Balazs and her team launched “Together We Prosper,” the brand’s first purpose-driven marketing campaign, focused on creating economic success in communities.
The campaign is anchored by Prosperity Hub, an ongoing program that brings full-time job opportunities, vocational training and education resources to underserved regional communities. Intuit works with customer partner-employers, including Alorica and Concentrix, to hire full-time employees, who are trained to provide domain expertise for the company’s products like Mint, QuickBooks and TurboTax. The firm has created 1,500 jobs in five towns in the U.S., including Wise, Va., and Johnstown, Pa., as part of the pilot program. Intuit hopes to fund around 1,500 more jobs by 2021.
Balazs, who’s based in San Francisco, previously led marketing efforts at Amazon and Visa. She also spearheads Intuit’s incorporation of technology to drive growth. Efforts include an AI-driven expert platform as part of Prosperity Hub, which could foster higher retention rates and faster response times for Intuit’s 50 million customers globally.
“More than ever, your marketing efforts need to be a reflection of a purpose-driven mission,” Balazs says. “And if that mission is not authentic or based on customer needs, your marketing will not drive growth.” —Ian Zelaya
Capossela is unique among executives in that he has worked at Microsoft since 1991. While a company rep stresses “everything that comes out of Microsoft is truly a team effort,” Capossela’s tenure as CMO includes the adoption of human stories in brand messaging to showcase how “Microsoft products and services are designed to empower customers to do bigger, bolder things.” The brand has released a series of ads under this umbrella, including its 2019 Super Bowl spot, “We All Win,” which focused on how children with disabilities bond through gaming thanks to its Xbox Adaptive Controller—and which was No. 3 in USA Today’s Ad Meter. (Then, in July 2019, Microsoft opened a retail location in London, which it describes as its “most accessible store yet.”)
For the 2020 game, Microsoft focused on San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers, who was not only the Super Bowl’s first female coach, but also the first openly gay coach. Microsoft fell a few spots to No. 9 in USA Today’s Ad Meter, but the commercial was rated the most emotionally effective of the Super Bowl by predictive marketing firm System1.
“Everything we do at Microsoft is driven by our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” says Capossela. “Marketing helps us innovate, helps us think of how we can serve customers and helps us challenge ourselves to be the best company we can be.” —Lisa Lacy
While Kohl’s says it has been focused on value and convenience since its first store opened in Brookfield, Wis., in 1962, the retailer saw an opportunity last year to tweak its brand positioning so that it came across more clearly, energetically and confidently. “I think that the strongest brands stand out in one and, at most, two ways,” Revelle says. “In retail, there’s so much you have to do well, but it’s important to distinguish yourself. That distinguishing characteristic has to matter and be absolutely believable to every customer on every visit.”
After talking to customers, Revelle says, “One thing came up again and again: More than any other retailer, customers feel rewarded when shopping with us.” That’s what led to Kohl’s Rewarding the Everyday Sweepstakes in March 2019, which it says focuses on busy, hardworking customers who “we believe … should be acknowledged and rewarded for the effort [they] put into creating and leading [fulfilled lives] for [their families].”
Revelle stresses the brand has not changed who it is but rather is focused on listening to its customers and answering their needs, including innovations like online pickup and self-checkout, savings through a new loyalty program and, of course, its Amazon returns partnership. —Lisa Lacy