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Jonathan Mildenhall IBM Watson Creative

Who’s most assertive, Rupert Murdoch or Arianna Huffington? And is Keith Weed more cheerful than Nicola Mendelsohn?


By Katie McQuater, Magazine Editor

June 20, 2016 | 3 min read

The Drum was given the opportunity to play with the power of IBM Watson and decided to use it to analyse the character of the marketing and media industry, based on the Twitter profiles of some of its most influential practitioners which we then turned into a game of Top Trumps.

Now, what we want to determine is whether the most influential people we analysed possess certain personality attributes that could explain their success. Do top influencers trump the rest of us? And what makes them stand out?

From a list of influencers that included Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington; media mogul Rupert Murdoch; Ogilvy Group’s Rory Sutherland; Unilever chief Keith Weed; DDB Worldwide’s Wendy Clark; Coca-Cola chief marketer Marcos de Quinto; Airbnb’s Jonathan Mildenhall; Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn; Dentsu Aegis Network’s Tracey de Groose; and Havas Media Group chief executive Paul Frampton, we found that, on average, key influencers are 30 per cent less conscientious than the rest of the profiles, and almost 30 per cent more curious. They also score 26 per cent higher on emotional range and are 27 per cent more likely to take on challenges.

Influencers are also 15 per cent less likely to display conservation/tradition, meaning they are less resistant to change and less likely to emphasise self-restriction than the rest of the group.

Family is more important to the influencers, as they are almost 30 per cent more likely to value closeness than others in the sample.

Positively, adventurousness is also a stand out metric for our influencers, slightly ahead of our wider sample of marketers, and higher than 80 per cent of the general population.

Our influencers’ writings suggest a slightly higher level of altruism than the population as a whole, in addition to moderately lower levels of assertiveness. For both assertiveness and altruism, our influencers sit in a higher percentile than our remaining analysed marketers, but scores are broadly in line with the industry average.

From the results it is therefore possible to surmise that the average top influencer in the industry is driven by curiosity, an urge to succeed, and values the connection of family and setting up a home. Their emotions are more sensitive to their environment, but they are less likely to act in an organised or thoughtful way.

How do you compare to the industry’s most influential? Do you possess the attributes needed to be a success? Head to to find out.

top trumps the drum
Top Trumps The Drum
Top Trumps The Drum
Top Trumps The Drum
Top Trumps The Drum

The scores on the cards are all percentiles, comparing one person to a broader population. For example, a 90 per cent on extraversion does not mean that the person is 90 per cent extroverted. It means that for that single trait, the person is more extroverted than 90 per cent of the people in the population (‘population’ refers to the baseline; a sample population analysed by Personality Insights).

Jonathan Mildenhall IBM Watson Creative

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