Forbes: the world’s most influential CMOs – 10 who are leading on the performance marketing front

Forbes recently unveiled its 2023 list of the 50 most influential global CMOs, recognising the marketing leaders who are driving the most impact on the largest scales. PMW delved through those named and has identified 10 CMOs who are setting the standard in performance marketing.

Forbes 11th annual list of the World Most Influential Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) recognises 50 Chief Marketing Officers globally – 25 of which made the list for the first time in this latest edition…but which ones stood out to PMW for their use of performance marketing to lead their organisations to success over the past 12 months?

1. William White, Chief Marketing Officer: Walmart (US)

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer and as CMO, White is responsible for a broader marketing strategy than almost all of his counterparts. In the past year, White has been particularly instrumental in Walmart’s digital transformation and e-commerce evolution, focused on driving demand, fostering customer loyalty and maintaining relevance for the Walmart brand. Under White’s leadership, Walmart launched the ‘Walmart Creator Platform’, aimed at building relationships with younger audiences by harnessing these customers’ propensity for being creators, collaborators and user-generated content (UGC) mines and giving the tools to recommend, sell and be rewarded for it.

3. Connie Braams, Chief Digital and Commercial Officer: Unilever (UK)

After more than three decades with Unilever, Braams recently announced that she would soon be leaving the company. Overseeing a brand portfolio with over 400 brands and spearheading the FMCG multinational’s end-to-end digital transformation, Braams has done plenty in the past 12 months to ensure she goes out on the highest of highs. She has been a long-standing advocate for Unilever’s switch to a purpose-driven marketing approach, epitomised by her championing a tech-forward brand loyalty building strategy and making significant changes to the company’s sustainability ethos.

6. Marian Lee, Chief Marketing Officer: Netflix (US)

As CMO of one of the globe’s largest entertainment companies, Lee’s past year has seen the launch and promotion of 800 Netflix Originals to its 232 million global subscribers. Lee took the lead on the streaming service’s pivot to in-platform advertising and broader expansion into gaming. As of the company’s latest financial report, 25% of its newest subscribers came in from this new ad-supported offering, highlighting the success of Netflix’s strategic shift from marketing to audiences to marketing with them and through them.

14. Tariq Hassan, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer: McDonald’s North America (United States)

The McDonald's brand has traditionally adopted a fan-based marketing approach and Hassan has built on this and created momentum across McDonald’s 14,000 US stores. The corporate monolith has become more approachable to consumers and other brands because of the way it uses digital mediums to communicate with the public. Highlighted by campaigns like the McRib Farewell Tour and collaborations with the likes of Cactus Plant Flea Market, Hassan’s marketing leadership has helped the iconic brand lean into and not away from the control today’s consumers have over most every brand.

16. Sarah Franklin, President: Salesforce (US)

Having been Salesforce’s CMO up until 6 June 6 when she was promoted, Franklin re-shaped how the cloud-based software goes to market and drives brand and business growth. Her ethos as a marketer was to encourage the development of work that inspires conversation, community, co-creation and open idea exchange. From performance campaigns like The Shift – a show about Salesforce and its customers produced for CNBC – to the launch of EinsteinGPT– the first generative AI-powered platform for CRM – the company has enjoyed much marketing success in the past 12 months, culminating in a 30% stock increase year-on-year.

18. Craig Brommers, Chief Marketing Officer: American Eagle Outfitters (US)

Having taken the reins of American Eagle in 2020 during the pandemic, Brommers has had plenty of time to think strategically, specifically on how to reinvigorate the youth retailer’s cultural relevance among Gen Z shoppers. With attention from this audience fleeting at best, capturing it and keeping it is in many ways the toughest marketing challenge of today. To achieve this, Brommers has invested in experimental campaigns and partnerships with the likes of Snap, TikTok and Roblox. To meet young consumer’s demand for sustainable shopping, he took the lead on the introduction of a resale merchandise section within the organisation’s retail offering, allowing shoppers to purchase second-hand goods directly from the retailer itself.

20. Angela Zepeda, Chief Marketing Officer: Hyundai Motor America (South Korea)

In her fourth year as CMO for Hyundai, Zepeda led the brand to record-breaking global growth, largely by leaning on channels like social media and influencer marketing. Zepeda’s strategy has placed an emphasis on engaging with a diverse audience across differing digital mediums, such as Hyundai’s first-to-market virtual showroom on Amazon. This approach allowed for significant gains for Zepeda’s organisation among younger consumers in the US market.

21. Asmita Dubey, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer: L’Oréal (France)

Dubey places among this list because of her ability to take the world’s leading beauty company and embrace new technology in its marketing. With oversight of a portfolio of 36 global brands, Dubey made significant marketing investments in Web3 and BeautyTech and other augmented products and services to help people discover, try and buy beauty products that are right for them. Leading this marketing evolution and ushering L’Oréal into the next digital age has put the brand in a good place to succeed long into the future.

22. Zach Kitschke, Chief Marketing Officer: Canva (Australia)

After joining Canva in 2013, Kitschke became CMO in 2021 and now controls the marketing direction for an online design platform with over 130 million monthly users globally. Focusing on the brand’s international growth, Kitschke has embraced the power of generative AI to expand Canva’s suite of content creation assets and leverage this new expanded product platform and the word-of-mouth it generates to facilitate continued growth into the future. His mission is to democratise the tools of creation in an increasingly virtual world and this is what’s being sold to Canva’s customers.

45. Carrie Palin, Chief Marketing Officer: Cisco (US)

Charged with increasing demand for the multinational digital communications company’s products and services is no small feat, but one Palin has carried out with aplomb – particularly in the past year. Palin is heralded as a risk-taker and in the times of today, risks have become necessary ingredients to successful performance marketing. She has led on a potentially industry-redefining approach to marketing by transforming the company’s messaging to represent itself as a more personalised “everything-as-a-service” model. This has led to investment in performance channels such as social media, primarily TikTok, which is an approach not often taken by B2B tech companies, as well as partnerships with global sports brands like Real Madrid and most recently the FIFA Women’s World Cup.