Meet The Drum's Future 50, part 3 – brand marketing's rising stars

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

Today we reveal part three of The Drum’s Future 50, which celebrates the world’s most exciting up-and-coming brand marketers.

To mark our year-long focus on the Marketer of the Future, in January we asked our readers to nominate the emerging stars of our industry. Hundreds of testimonials poured in.

And having carefully considered the merits of each nominee, The Drum's editorial team have now curated our inaugural Future 50 list which we are revealing each day this week.

Today's inductees include top talents from the BBC, PepsiCo and McLaren. All are either under 30 or have been working in marketing for less than 18 months, making their achievements already all the more impressive.

You can see the latest instalment of the Future 50 below, and catch up on part one and part two now. Join us again tomorrow when our countdown continues...

Dani Hughes, senior marketing strategist, British Heart Foundation

Dani Hughes has spent most of her career so far in the charity sector, but last year stepped out of her “comfort zone”, as she puts it, to join a fitness startup and take a voluntary marketing role at Pride in London. A member of The Drum’s 50 under 30 in 2018, Hughes is now applying what she has learned in the startup world at the British Heart Foundation.

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

I don't see jobs for life anymore really being a thing for everyone. What I see more and more of is part-time, flexible, side hustles and consulting becoming more commonplace. That's a really exciting future. What that also enables is someone in marketing to also experience first-hand launching services, being a client or developing a go to market product which is a brilliant skill-set to have as a marketer. I do this with freelancing on weekends or helping my partner launch a supper club and all of these skills I bring back to my current role at the BHF.

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

It would have to be at the very start of YouTube when Shishir Mehrotra was developing TrueView. His whole idea was around making advertising better, inspired by the Super Bowl effect and if that could be replicated all year round on YouTube. By introducing a skip button, not charging advertisers if someone skipped their ad, what they ultimately did was force advertisers to build better and better ads if they wanted someone to watch them. It took three years but YouTube stuck to this insight and it paid off, now being a multi-billion pound revenue source for Google.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

There's a really interesting article about how millennials became the burnout generation and that really resonates with me and so many people I know. What's important is to understand the reasons as to why these feelings of "I should be working all the time" happen and finding the best way to deal with them. It will vary from person to person, but for me it's been reflection, taking a step back and encouraging anyone I work with to do the same. Self-care in whatever form is so important – as long as it's not used as another way of "self-optimising".

Chris Edwards-Pritchard, marketing & communications director, Open Bionics

Since starting his career in environmental charities, Chris Edwards-Pritchard has worked solely for brands intent on changing the world. Today he applies his principles at Open Bionics, a UK startup building bionic limbs for children. His proudest moment is working with Star Wars actor Mark Hamill to produce a viral video message for children with limb differences.

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

As a newly elected editor of my university's magazine back in in 2009, I spent every moment in between first-term lectures redesigning the magazine's website, planning events and growing social channels. I found the challenge of building a brand far more interesting than that of editing a magazine, and that's when I scrapped plans to become a journalist and started to seriously consider marketing as a career. Both disciplines involve storytelling, but with marketing there is dynamism and data and real-time engagement and emojis – I was sold.

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

Integrity. Marketing is one of the most powerful tools in the world: it can elevate life-changing technology, bring about meaningful political change and, ultimately, save the planet. But with great power comes great responsibility. Marketers of the future must possess integrity – in each and every piece of content they produce, in every conversation with customers, in every tweet, in every CX optimisation, and also in the career moves they make and how they choose to represent their industry. Integrity means that the best marketing doesn't look like marketing at all.

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

I'm tempted to say Apple, at the very beginning in 1976 when Jobs changed its awful Newton scroll apple logo to the now ubiquitous bitten apple. To be a part of that founding vision would have been fun. However, more recently, I'd like to have played a part in transforming the marketing approach of the Remain campaign in the UK's 2016 EU referendum. The campaign struggled to identify and engage with its target audience on relevant platforms and completely failed to convert the undecided. The poor branding and marketing of this campaign has brought about unprecedented levels of political uncertainty.

Samantha Friedman, senior director, industry marketing, Group Nine Media (Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo, Seeker)

Samantha Friedman has worked on brand strategy for some of the most influential modern media companies including YouTube, BuzzFeed, Turner and now Group Nine Media. At BuzzFeed, she conceptualised the ‘Epic Everyday’ campaign in partnership with Amex, which earned 10m likes in the first 90 days. At YouTube, she partnered with leading creators to build a small but mighty merchandise line that dedicated its profits to Alzheimer's research. To date, the merchandise has raised over $100k for the cause.

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

I didn't consider marketing until I was tasked to market myself in my senior year at Boston University. The school had a writing competition and the winner was invited to deliver the graduation speech. I was thrilled by the possibility but had no idea how to cut through the sea of submissions. Ultimately, I decided to craft my speech as a slam poem and remarkably, I won. That's when I realised the power of marketing and it really excited me. There's a true appetite for marketers to surprise and delight an audience – you just have to take the leap.

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

Have you seen Gritty, the new official mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers? Talk about a brand making waves! I would have loved to have had a seat at the table when they conceptualised that masterpiece. Bold and unapologetic – Gritty is amazing.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

This is an extremely exciting, but tough business. It's really important to nurture young talent aspiring to join the industry. When I graduated college, I mailed 50 letters to senior marketers and creative directors across NYC asking for career advice. I heard back from one person. I'm still in touch with him to this day. I think people underestimate how meaningful that 15-minute coffee can be to someone new to the game.

Daniel Parker, Central Campaign Manager, Sage

Daniel Parker started his career in the marketing graduate programme at Sky, working within its data arm Sky IQ. He then moved internally to Sky Business, where he was responsible for the acquisition of pubs and clubs, before moving to EE as a senior marketing executive. Now he plies his trade at software giant Sage, where he is a central campaign manager in the accountants’ division.

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

I would have worked for Nike in their early days when it made the decision to focus on endorsements. Getting athletes to wear its footwear at high-profile events was the catalyst for the company's success. It identified that people are motivated by stories of sporting success, valour and overcoming adversity. This is one of the best examples of creating a brand which represents something. To then continue in this vain and go from a running shoe manufacturer to a leading global sportswear brand is remarkable. It would have been great to be part of that.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

The main thing I would like to change is the perception of marketing that sales teams tend to have. This statement is a broad generalisation and not always the case, but I would like to see the marketing industry place further emphasis on the lockstep with sales and how the alignment of these areas is paramount to success. I have come across this perception many times and some marketers are happy to brush it off rather than work on it – I believe this should be a fundamental practice within the marketing industry.

Stephanie Walker, associate marketing manager, PepsiCo

Stephanie Walker spent the first five years of her career working for a media agency, involved in every medium before specialising in the digital space. One of the last projects she had on the agency side was developing a global strategy for a client that impacted not just media, but also how it approached creative and in-store for all markets across the world. This inspired her to want to step onto the brand side where she could drive strategy more holistically

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

Any marketer of the future needs to be an endless learner. We live in a day and age where the world around us is constantly changing, which means as marketers we need to keep up with that change to connect with our consumer. The marketer who leans back on the status quo is the marketer who falls behind with inauthentic communication, lost consumer relevance and ultimately lost sales. We need to constantly be learning so that we can evolve how and where we communicate, the products we innovate and how the product gets in consumers hands. Otherwise, we're left behind.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

My ultimate goal would be to make the marketing industry more personal. Consumers today expect more personalisation from brands, and it's because we have access to data that allow us to fulfill this expectation. Brands of the future (and present) will harness the power of data to personalize the consumer experience from exploration to purchase and consumption. This creates a true two-way relationship and a feedback loop that requires brands to behave in a way that benefits the consumer first, which if done right ultimately benefits both consumer and corporation.

Joe Pascoe, chief marketing officer, Victorian Plumbing

Joe Pascoe has spent the bulk of his career so far at Victorian Plumbing, the online retailer he joined as a marketing manager in 2012. After leaving for a role in the transactional arm of a large publisher, Pascoe missed the buzz of the fast-paced environment he’d been used to and returned to Victorian Plumbing where he swiftly rose up the ranks to take its top marketing role.

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

Without a doubt, I'd work at Diesel in the 90s. Back then, Levi's are the dominant market leader, and Diesel choose provocative, funny creative with intelligent subject matter, rather than aligning with what seemed to be working for their competition. It really knew its young, cool market, and understood the need for a brand to be a content creator. I'm also a big fan of staged set-pieces in photography, laced with narrative and semiotics.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

I think the TV media model is outdated, cumbersome and doesn't work in the interest of advertisers. Sales houses need to understand that their inflationary market is detrimental to the needs of brands and if something doesn't change, we'll begin to move above-the-line spend elsewhere. Explaining how TV viewership is measured to people, even those without an understanding of marketing, they tend to laugh. That said, I love TV as a medium for brands to tell stories, there's nothing quite like it.

Lucy Round, marketing executive, younger audiences, BBC

Upon joining the BBC, Lucy Round was thrown into the busy department of media planning and has since gravitated to work on marketing for a range of the corporation’s brands. Her proudest achievement is working on the CBeebies ‘Everyone’s Welcome’ campaign, a piece of work that she says “came from the heart”.

What is your social network of choice and why?

Instagram. Whether I am just wanting to post a quick story about a small thing that has happened in my day or a bigger post, it’s perfect to be personalised. Whether it’s for my house renovation page, my rabbit’s Instagram or for work, I like how so many people can engage at so many levels. The real personality of a brand can shine.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

Through doing the Everyone's Welcome campaign on CBeebies I saw the success of tapping into what the world was talking about at the time. You see this with one-off other marketing campaigns too when they catch the essence of the nation’s feelings. Rather than just pushing sales or brand agendas, taking a step back and thinking as the customer and how they feel could really change how a brand or industry is seen.

Nikhil Patel, senior digital brand manager, McLaren

From inspiring students to pursue their dreams in education marketing, to the fast-paced and relentless world of high-technology and Formula 1 at McLaren, Nikhil Patel’s career to date has been diverse, challenging, and accomplished. His proudest achievement thus far is masterminding #FutureGrandPrix, a concept campaign which gave motorsport fans a vision of what grand prix racing my look like in 2050, when technologies such as AI, autonomy and mixed reality become commonplace.

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

I was nine years old when Budweiser released its 'wassup' advert in 1999. The saying 'wassup' was being said by everybody around me. Football players were using the 'wassup' action for their goal celebrations. It was the first time I recognised a brand using a marketing campaign to impact culture. I was fascinated. I asked myself, who came up with this idea? How did they come up with this? What are they trying to achieve? I knew as early as then that my strengths were in creativity, and I wanted to use those skills to affect culture.

What is your social network of choice and why?

If the world is ending, you'll probably catch me sneaking in one last YouTube video. I can't live without YouTube. I use it for research, to see which videos are trending, to learn new skills, and like most people, find myself sinking into an endless stream of watching video after video, cat videos and all. I think YouTube will still be around in 10 years because of the opportunity it has to grow in the streaming space, and I'm not sure I can say the same for the other social channels. Long live YouTube.

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

Working at McLaren was always my dream. I used to sleep in pyjamas with Mika Hakkinen’s face on them! Standing in the garage while the ferocious roar of a Formula 1 engine revs is spine-tingling. So, I'm working at the brand I've always wanted to work at, while we're going through a lot of changing, branching into new areas including esports and cycling. Aside from McLaren, I would have loved to work at SpaceX. The mystique, its cavalier approach, having a boss like Elon Musk, and of course, what's cooler than working for a brand that's going to mars?

Sarah Smith, social media manager, Floor & Decor

Sarah Smith joined US retailer Floor & Décor in 2015 as a digital marketing specialist, before transitioning into a social media and content strategy role and then moving into her current position as social media manager. In this role she has been building its social media team from the ground up, working on a social influencer programme and introducing its first user-generated content campaign, ‘Real People. Real Projects’.

What is your social network of choice and why?

Photography has always been a passion of mine, I even used to shoot for a magazine, so when Instagram rolled out it was the network I'd been waiting for. It is a place where I can fully embrace my passion while also stumbling upon amazing, rich, and uplifting inspiration. On the flip side, I am a huge advocate of Pinterest from a business perspective. The power of Pinterest constantly impresses me. It's overlooked and underestimated by many, but it is much more than a social network.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

I want to establish social media marketing as a need-to-have rather than a nice-to-have. Social isn't just a tactic, it's a complex channel with a multitude of networks that can truly drive your business forward. I want to bridge the gap from it being viewed as just a brand awareness play to it being needed because it is a revenue-driving channel.

Melanie Palmer, chief marketing officer, Exo Investing

From media agency executive to chief marketing officer at a fintech startup, Melanie Palmer’s career has always been linked to financial services. She ranks her proudest achievements as being promoted to chief marketing officer after six months of being head of growth; speaking on stage at Web Summit and on the Fintech Insider podcast; speaking on panels as an advocate for women in the financial services industry at events like 'Women, Power, Money' and being in a position where she can drive change through marketing initiatives such as 'Embrace Investing'.

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

It was only after I had been an agency executive for a year that I started to get really jealous of my client's job! I was working on the American Express account and while I Ioved doing the digital media and planning I wanted to know more about why they were taking the approaches that they were. What were the core marketing objectives? How did they impact the business objectives? So, it was really my need to understand the context of the work I was doing that propelled my career into marketing.

What is your social network of choice and why?

I love Twitter. It's a brilliant engagement tool. People can spark debate with a few words and a random stranger can answer your questions. I love that you can create relationships almost out of thin air from one tweet. I also think it's helped me to be bold. Years ago I don't think I would have been brave enough to randomly DM a cool fintech marketer or a tech journo to set up a coffee, now I do it all the time. The possibilities feel endless and it feels more frictionless for me than other social media channels.

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

TED (2002). I can't count how many TED talks I have listened to, but they live up to their tagline of 'Ideas worth spreading'. They have created communities, challenged the status quo and shone a light on the inner workings of society. Marketing to me is all about stories so to have a constant stream of so much raw human thought across so many different verticals, at a time when knowledge sharing on a mass scale was just getting going would have been incredible.

How do you want to change the marketing industry?

I want to be part of the shift from 'product-based' financial marketing to 'people-based'. Money is fundamental to our society and to each and every one of us. But it's not about which ISA to choose, it's about the lives we want to live. I want storytelling to be the vehicle to engage people from all backgrounds and at different points in their financial journey. I also want to use the passion I have in putting the customer at the heart of financial businesses, to help put trust back in this industry.

Read more from the Future 50:

Part 1

Part 2

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