Meet The Drum's Future 50, part 1 – the world's best new marketers revealed

The Drum's Future 50 champions the best new marketers in the world

Today we are proud to introduce The Drum’s Future 50, our celebration of the world’s most exciting up-and-coming brand marketers.

As part of our year-long focus on the Marketer of the Future, at the start of 2019 we asked our readers to nominate the colleagues and clients they considered the most outstanding new talents in our industry. The response was overwhelming.

And now, after the hundreds of nominees were given careful consideration by our editorial team, we can reveal who has been chosen to be in The Drum's first Future 50.

The final list spans talent from Bangalore to Berlin via London and Los Angeles. It encompasses marketers from major brands like Amazon and PepsiCo to innovative startups like Hyperloop and HQ Trivia. All inductees are either under 30 or have been working in marketing for less than 18 months, making their achievements already all the more remarkable.

We'll be revealing the full list each day this week. Enjoy part one below, and part two here.

Isabelle Ambler, brand marketing manager, The New York Times

Isabelle Ambler has worked with legacy businesses undergoing profound transformation like Campari and The New York Times. As the lead marketer on the latter's acclaimed 'The Truth is Hard' campaign, it was Ambler's job to guarantee creative development, implementation and measurement matched the speed and quality of the Times' newsroom.

How did you first become aware of marketing as a career?

Unaware of it at the time, I got a taste for marketing when I branded my first entrepreneurial endeavour at age nine: a party planning business called Fee Fi Fo Fun. It lived on the sidelines, however, as I pursued becoming a philanthropic baker then architect then statistician. I was looking for ways to apply left- and right-brain thinking to real-world problems and my marketing career delivered.

What is your social network of choice and why?

Social media has the power to connect people around the world but also the power to inundate you with noisy, unhelpful and misleading information. That's why I turn to Instagram. It's not the place to post anything and everything. It's curated. It's fun. It offers multiple canvases to inspire and express yourself. It's a choose-your-own-adventure kind of platform.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

Businesses have begun to recognise that they can no longer afford to ignore their role in a rapidly-changing world. In reaction, brands are loudly proclaiming their 'purpose'. However, for most, it's inauthentic and these missteps can have real consequences. Instead, I want to push marketing to become the force for change... internally. We must use our storytelling powers to mobilise management, employees and partners and begin the rewiring process.

James Saker, senior marketing manager, Amazon Prime Video

In his role at Amazon Prime Video, sports specialist James Saker is focusing on the 2019 launch of the platform's Premier League, US Open and ATP Tour live coverage. Previously, he was the head of social media at Manchester City, managing the fastest growing fanbase in Europe.

How did you first become aware of marketing as a career?

As a sports enthusiast, I grew up fascinated by marketing in the Premier League. My interest was in why brands picked certain clubs or athletes to align themselves with. Whether it was Carlsberg's logo emblazoned on the Liverpool shirt or Adidas' partnership with Beckham, marketing in sport intrigued me. The industry matured as I began my studies and the game became global, driven by the value of marketing. This was exemplified by the Oreo 'dunk in the dark' Super Bowl tweet in 2013, and the power of creativity led to my desire to work in the industry.

If you could have worked with any brand at any point in history, what brand, when, and why?

Working for Snapchat between 2011 and 2013 would have been fascinating. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat for $3bn, but the young startup declined the offer. The company was seeing rapid growth in the US market but the brand was tarnished as a 'sexting' mobile app. To believe in the product and brand, to turn down that money and remain independent and go to war directly with Instagram (which Facebook later purchased) must have been exhilarating. From a marketing perspective, it is a real-life underdog story.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

There is an accepted theory that 50% of marketing works, we just don't know which 50%. If I leave a legacy that sheds light on which 50% of marketing does contribute to business objectives, I will retire happy. In order to do this, we must highlight the requirement for transparency around exactly what is working. Attribution modelling is in its infancy but technology is evolving, increasing the capabilities to optimise marketing and minimise wastage of resource and budget. It is an area of the industry that marketers often ignore, but it could change how we fundamentally operate.

Hannah Martin, brand manager, Old Mout Cider, Heineken UK

Hannah Martin started on the Heineken graduate programme, learning the ropes in the world of on-trade sales. Today, she's responsible for guiding the UK's fastest growing premium flavoured cider to a market leading position. She is most proud of her work on the brand's purposeful 'Save the Kiwi' campaign, which drew international coverage last year.

What is your social network of choice and why?

I'm fascinated by the power of Instagram. Images can go viral quicker than you can click a camera, people can create their own 'brand' simply by playing around with composition and filters, brands are accepted as part of the conversation and smart content and positioning can cut through, making you magnetic to your target market. Most importantly of all, if done right it can quickly grow your tribe into loyal customers. I am an avid Instagram user. I browse, I like, I comment, I share... knowing the platform inside out helps you generate the most relevant content for your brand.

If you could have worked with any brand at any point in history, what brand, when, and why?

I would have liked to have written the comms brief in the 80s for the Nike 'Just Do It' campaign. You can imagine how concise a brief it would have been, the clarity on the issue and joy to receive as a creative. Identifying such a simple path to take on the competition by tapping into such a powerful consumer insight and hitting on that core issue in all of the messaging can often be overcomplicated in marketing. It was inevitable in a category with such ingrained communication norms, that this campaign would connect with consumers on an emotional level.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

There is a very 'blinkered' view of what marketing 'should be' based off a history of large-scale media, large budgets and the objectives of agencies to 'win a Cannes Lion'. People in the industry forget the simple things, like the fact we're all consumers or that there is no such thing as an over-simplified message, the power of a cultural insight and hook for relevance. The industry needs to become more raw and honest. As consumers and customers become more sceptical, brand and marketing needs to be foolproof and real.

Tim Ma, senior associate, brand marketing, Pandora

Tim Ma started at music streaming service Pandora during college in 2016 as its summer social media intern, working part-time while finishing his degree and transitioning onto brand thereafter. He has since spearheaded Pandora's cultural/seasonal campaigns and the launch of its flagship genre stations, building a collective audience of 7+ million station owners. His highlight was the recent 'Sound On' campaign, which he and colleagues delivered in just six weeks.

How did you first become aware of marketing as a career?

To my parents' despair, I entered college declaring that I would major in theatre with the intent of becoming a playwright. After trying it out for a year, I eventually decided the program wasn't for me and switched to media studies. There, I discovered the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) and joined our school's team. It lit a spark, and I quickly gravitated toward the storytelling aspect of brand strategy and marketing, creative action driven by strategy and insights.

What do you believe is the main quality the marketer of the future will need to possess?

Empathy: the ability to see your audience in both collective and individual terms. As our insights capabilities continue to expand in scale, it becomes even more crucial to not only understand the data but to empathise with the people behind each data point. And as marketing tech reaches a one-to-one level of personalisation, a good marketer sees through the eyes of their customer and holistically takes into account their context, concerns and community. They view them as individuals deserving of respect and understanding, as opposed to appropriation and blind assumption.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

Diversity in marketing matters to me. It means making space for equitable representation of gender, racial and sexual identities, at all levels. That applies to the people you feature in your ads, but also to the marketers and creators who work behind-the-scenes and the executives at the very top. From experience, there's a notable difference when you are not the only LGBTQ+ person/person of colour in a room. Whether a single person can change an industry is debatable, but I like to think this starts with listening a little harder and taking steps to become a better ally and advocate.

Chandini Malla, senior manager, online media, Diageo

Post-MBA at the Indian Institute of Management, Chandini Malla joined Google as a digital media manager, working with international clients across diverse sectors. Curious about how clients decide on their marketing programmes, Malla then moved to Diageo where she works on media planning and digital strategy across all brands under the drinks giant’s India portfolio.

How did you first become aware of marketing as a career?

With the launch of Twenty20 in a cricket-crazy country like India, all Indians ate, slept, talked, breathed and danced to was the Indian Premier League for six months. With a bit of research, I realised that the secret to its success lies in its amazing marketing and value creation. Being fascinated by this, I decided to be a marketer. One thing led to another and in time I pursued a post-graduation in business. The marketing projects, courses, and the internship all indicated to me that this was my calling.

If you could have worked with any brand at any point in history, what brand, when, and why?

De Beers in 1938. It was a monopoly market and the brand was struggling to create a demand despite the economic crisis. In the US, diamonds were perceived as a luxury reserved for the super wealthy. The main challenge was that the stone itself wasn't intrinsically valuable, given the resale value. To be able to sell more diamonds in a depressed economy, De Beers decided to associate these stones to be a representation of 'purity and durability'. The brand mastered the art of creating an occasion around it of 'celebrating love and marriage'.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

The shift that I'd like to make is where consumers are chasing brands and not the other way around. We need to stop bombarding people with intrusive ads by creating unique, money-can't-buy experiences. The spenders of tomorrow will open their wallets willingly for authentic experiences that add value to their lives. Case in point is the brand Apple, which has created an aspiration just by the experience, design and not the product itself.

Chris Drachkovitch, manager, brand strategy, Ritual

Starting out agency side, Chris Drachkovitch began his career as a strategist at Deutsch LA where in two years he worked on campaigns including Taco Bell’s #BiggerThan Super Bowl push and Uber’s first national rider and driver activity. From there, he joined Team One as a strategist on Lexus, repositioning and relaunching the ES 350. Since October 2018 he’s been brand side at Ritual, an LA-based tech startup on a mission to shape the future of vitamins and women’s health.

How did you first become aware of marketing as a career?

My parents are TV producers, so growing up I was surrounded by entertainment, storytelling, and technology. I knew that I wanted a career that gave me all three, but it wasn't until 2009 that I realised advertising could check all three boxes. Nike had just launched its 'Take It To The Next Level' campaign. It followed a young, up-and-coming soccer star from his beginnings to competing at the highest level for his country. It wasn't just an ad trying to sell jerseys and cleats. It told a story that millions of kids including me dreamed about every day.

What do you believe is the main quality the marketer of the future will need to possess?

Staying connected to their humanity. Technology will continue to shape our industry. But we should never forget that people are at the receiving end of what we do. Our ability to make people feel something is what leads to effective marketing. Marketers of the future should encourage a stronger connection to our humanity, not technology.

If you could have worked with any brand at any point in history, what brand, when, and why?

In 2008, Volvo announced its Vision 2020 – that by 2020 nobody should be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo car. The Volvo brand has taken up the challenge to reduce the 1.3 million deaths that occur every year due to road traffic accidents. It's not only a noble mission but also a single-minded one that drives the actions of the brand every single day. I respect any company that aligns its business with making a positive impact on the world.

Alexa Saller, global marketing manager, Kind

Alexa Saller cut her teeth as an agency planner but moved client-side because she wanted to be responsible for brand execution from idea to shelf. Highlights have included creating some of Mars' most effective social content and a whirlwind three years running M&M's where she doubled the size of the brand in the UK. In November, she took on a new role to handle the global launch of KIND Snacks, a startup brand that endeavours to be a force for commercial and social good.

How did you first become aware of marketing as a career?

I am extremely fortunate that my mom works in the marketing industry. Although we've never talked much about the intricacies of work or 'marketing' as a discipline, she is determined, innovative and commercially savvy, qualities I aspire to. Upon entering marketing I appreciated that the best companies featured leaders that used insights to build strong foundations for their business and they (like my mom) were generally the ones that invested the most in developing their teams and that is exactly the type of leader I want to be.

What is your social network of choice and why?

Tough one. I would probably plump for Pinterest. It's not because I'm deep into wedding planning at the moment (although I do often find myself in a Pinterest hole) but because the data behind it and the visual search functionality is brilliant. I am a very visual person and I love that I can search the internet through images rather than just the sterile Google search bar. Pinterest can be repetitive and it lags behind Instagram in terms of commercialisation but it's definitely the one I personally enjoy engaging with the most.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

I want to make the marketing industry more diverse and share our successes with people in other walks of life so that women of all backgrounds can make the most out of their careers. Two-and-a-half years ago I founded a women's network called Working Girls to do just that. I had received incredible support and coaching across my career but I felt many women I knew hadn't got the same. We run events and workshops for women from many different backgrounds to equip them with the skills and personal understanding to get ahead.

Charlie Holman, campaign manager, the UK's Department for International Trade

Public sector specialist Charlie Holman started his career at the University of Reading, where in a single academic year the marketing team raised applications by 21% against a sector backdrop of 2% and were voted in the Top 10 Universities by the Youth 100 awards. His current role is with the UK’s Civil Service working on the 'Great' campaign, the government’s most successful international campaign ever.

What do you believe is the main quality the marketer of the future will need to possess?

People will always remain people. Marketers that stay eternally curious – and to a certain degree obsessed – in understanding their audience will create the most compelling and effective work. Marketers also need to become leaders within their organisations and not just their department. As marketers, we know the consumer best. We should be doing more to champion our profession outside the four walls of the marketing department, helping to steer board-level decision making, and in the public sector realm becoming a key player in formulating policy rather than coming in at the last hour to execute policy.

If you could have worked with any brand at any point in history, what brand, when, and why?

On the back of the fever of the Guinness Six Nations, I am going to be really cliched and say that I would have loved to have been involved in the curation of the 1999 Guinness 'Surfer' ad. It is the one advert I very vividly remember at the age of only seven and every time it was shown my eyes were glued to the TV. I am not quite sure I understood fully what it was saying, but it clearly resonated with an innate human instinct that stopped me in my tracks and got the adrenaline pumping.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

The word 'marketing' has often been a dirty word in the public sector. While most are aware of the need for effective communications, wider staff are all too often sceptical about our work. Proving our worth as a profession in the public sector is important to me and that means better showcasing our work's impact and effectiveness. Key to achieving this, I believe, is creating work which challenges the notion that government marketing can't be bold and creative.

Jessica Tryde, manager, destination marketing, Marriott International

With an education in hospitality, anthropology and French, Jessica Tryde’s vision was to understand why consumers behave the way they do. She kicked off her career in PR and then transitioned into copywriting before taking up the destinations manager position at hotel giant Marriott. There, she melds her communications and creative skills to “sell travel to wanderlusters”. She is particularly proud of mastering Cantonese in four years.

What do you believe is the main quality the marketer of the future will need to possess?

Adaptation and guts. The world is changing faster than we can process – generations are growing up with a new way of life. If we revert to traditional ways of doing things, it won't resonate with the new generation of consumers. A mentor once told me – if you're looking to innovate, don't ask for a case study. Learn to adapt and have the guts to try something that's never been done before.

If you could have worked with any brand at any point in history, what brand, when, and why?

Airbnb. It still amazes me how this company managed to get the world's buy-in in a concept where you book and live in a complete stranger's house. It has built itself a compelling story – riding on the right insights (authentic experiences, sense of belonging) and have sold it seamlessly to the public. And it all began with one single pain point – 'I need a place to stay but hotels are fully booked.'

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

Rather than reacting to today's consumers, I want to be able to predict tomorrow's consumers. I often see companies repeat and repurpose tactics, stories, marketing campaigns. And I want to remove that sense of fear that marketers often get when they're offered a new way of doing things. Successful campaigns, to me, are a result of having a good understanding of what problem the consumer is looking to resolve, and marketing that through digital innovation.

Chris Doe, senior brand manager, Old El Paso, General Mills

Chris Doe has worked primarily in FMCG food for the past nine years, mostly within the marketing department, but with short stints in sales and commercial strategy too. He has helped turn around Old El Paso brand from 2% to +2% RSV and led a £5.5m relaunch of the Birds Eye Inspirations brand which spanned comms, NPD and a packaging redesign

What do you believe is the main quality the marketer of the future will need to possess?

The current rate of change is unprecedented, with challenger brands, industry consolidation and e-commerce all impacting the way people notice, choose and consume products. Resilience and agility will, therefore, be important qualities for marketers in the future; we'll need to adopt a 'test and learn' mentality, embrace failure, and resist the urge to dismiss initiatives because they don't offer an immediate return. This will require a far more analytical skillset, as well as feeling comfortable with quickly pivoting and abandoning the original plan if it's not working.

If you could have worked with any brand at any point in history, what brand, when, and why?

The launch of Häagen-Dazs in 1961. It was so different from anything else at the time, occupying a premium positioning and targeting adults. The brand's founder, Reuben Mattus, was passionate about creating high-quality products with the best ingredients and spent six years fine-tuning the recipe. The fact that Häagen-Dazs still lives by these standards and is in double-digit growth is a testament to the strong foundations that were laid in those early days. We can learn a lot from this relentless, uncompromising desire to delight consumers, which inevitably creates value for both them and the business' stakeholders

What is your choice of social network and why?

Instagram. Aside from the filters making my average photographs look 10-times better, I'm now always on the lookout for 'the perfect shot' wherever I go. I find that it acts as good inspiration for new places to visit and whenever someone posts an amazing photo, I always add it to my mental checklist of things to do. I must admit that I've never got into Instagram stories though, it feels a bit too disposable.

Read more: The Future 50 - Part Two

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