Keith Weed tops Forbes list of world’s most influential CMOs

Keith Weed, Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, is the most influential chief marketer globally, according to the latest Forbes World’s Most Influential CMOs report.

Visibility and engagement

The report – compiled by Forbes in partnership with Sprinklr and LinkedIn – ranks the world’s most influential chief marketing officers, along with a look at what brought them to that position. It also examines how today’s marketing environment is changing and what it takes to be the CMO of tomorrow.

Keith, who has headed Unilever’s marketing function since 2010, takes the top spot primarily due to his broad visibility and engagement across multiple channels. He is vocal about key industry issues, calling on digital platforms to deliver on ‘value, viewability and verification’, and promoting the need for sustainable brands.

He has also been instrumental is setting up the Unstereotype Alliance – a partnership with UN Women and industry leaders including WPP, Facebook and Google – that aims to banish stereotypical portrayals of gender in advertising and all brand-led content. The Alliance was launched earlier this week at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

“As marketing has shifted from being all about the brand to being all about the customer, the role of the CMO has completely changed,” said Ragy Thomas, Sprinklr CEO and Founder. “Leading CMOs must orchestrate more personalized, more holistic experiences for customers. They have to go from being the mouthpiece for the brand to being the eyes and ears.”

This year’s list reflects the growing diversity of the marketing world, with a third of the top 50 being women, including three of the top ten. Technology, telecommunications and Internet companies dominate the list – accounting for 40% of the top 50 – followed by financial services at 18%.

How the report is compiled

CMO influence is defined as the impact a chief marketer’s actions and words have on his or her internal organization’s motivation and performance; corporate brand perception; broader marketing and advertising industry trends; and, ultimately, corporate financial performance, including stock price.

To assess influence, CMOs were evaluated based on brand performance indicators, such as engagement rate on brand posts on social media; personal impact on brand awareness (such as total direct and indirect Twitter mentions); and industry and internal influence (such as a CMO’s volume of LinkedIn connections).

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