2020 list revealed!
Announcing the 2020 CMO50

Recognising Australia's innovative and most effective marketing leaders

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CMO50 2020

  • 1

    Leisa Bacon


    Director of audiences

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  • 2

    Alexander Meyer

    The Iconic

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 3

    Melissa Hopkins


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 4

    Brent Smart


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 5

    Jeremy Nicholas


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 6

    Sweta Mehra


    Chief marketing officer

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  • 7

    Martine Jager

    Westpac Group

    Chief digital and marketing officer

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  • 8

    Jonathan Kerr

    Auto & General (Budget Direct)

    Chief marketing and delivery officer

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  • 9

    Joel Goodsir

    Inspirations Paint

    Head of marketing

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  • 10

    Andrew Hicks

    Woolworths Group

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 11

    Mim Haysom

    Suncorp Group

    EGM brand and marketing

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  • 12

    Susan Massasso

    The a2 Milk Company

    Chief brand and growth officer

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  • 13

    Michael Branagh

    Tourism and Events Queensland

    Executive director, global marketing

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  • 14

    Lara Thom

    Guzman y Gomez

    Global chief marketing officer

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  • 15

    Melina Cruickshank

    REA Group

    Chief audience and marketing officer

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  • 16

    Matt Fletcher

    Fitness First Australia

    Head of marketing

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  • 17

    Martin Brown

    Nestle Australia

    Director – eBusiness, strategy and marketing, Nestlé Oceania

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  • 18

    Nikki Warburton

    Audi Australia

    Chief customer and marketing officer

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  • 19

    Natalie Ashes


    Head of marketing and ecommerce

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  • 20

    Josh Grace

    Samsung Australia

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 21

    Monique Macleod

    Commonwealth Bank

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 22

    Chris Taylor

    National Heart Foundation

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 23

    Ryan Gracie

    Catch Group

    Chief marketing officer

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  • 24

    Allan Collins


    Chief marketing officer A/NZ

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  • 25

    Brent Hill

    South Australia Tourism Commission

    Executive director of marketing

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26 - 50 (In alphabetical order)

  • Aisling Finch


    Director of marketing A/NZ

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  • Anny Havercroft

    Verizon Media ANZ

    Director, brand innovation and marketing

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  • Anthony Lieu


    Head of marketing

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  • Bianca Bryson

    International Justice Mission Australia

    Chief marketing and partnerships officer

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  • Caroline Bonpain


    Marketing director A/NZ

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  • Chaminda Ranasinghe

    RMIT University

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Daniel McDermott


    Marketing director A/NZ

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  • Darryn Wallace

    Lion Dairy & Drinks

    Marketing and innovation director

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  • Emily Dowling

    Mars Pet Nutrition Australia

    Marketing director

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  • Fabian Marrone

    Monash University

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Josie Brown

    Tennis Australia

    Chief marketing and insights officer

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  • Kellie Cordner


    Chief marketing officer

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  • Luke Waldren


    EGM marketing, customer and product

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  • Mike Scott


    Chief brand and marketing officer

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  • Natalie Sarich-Dayton

    Brownes Dairy

    Director sales and marketing

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  • Nicole McInnes

    WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

    Marketing and commercial director A/NZ

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  • Nikki Clarkson

    Southern Cross Austereo

    Chief marketing and communications officer

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  • Pip Arthur


    Chief marketing officer and communications director

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  • Simon Cheng


    Chief marketing officer

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  • Stuart Tucker


    Chief customer officer

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  • Susan Coghill

    Tourism Australia

    Chief marketing officer

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  • Suzana Ristevski

    National Australia Bank

    Executive, group marketing

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  • Tony Quarmby

    Northern Territory

    Executive general manager, marketing

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  • Vivianne Arnold

    Hudson Global Resources

    Chief marketing officer, Asia Pacific

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  • Yves Calmette

    World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)

    Chief marketing officer

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Ones to Watch (In alphabetical order)

  • Julia Edwards-Smith

    McMillan Shakespeare Group

    Group executive, marketing and digital

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  • Renee Garner


    Chief marketing officer

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  • Jason Olive

    Movember Australia

    Marketing director

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  • Victoria Primrose

    Aurora Expeditions

    Global head of marketing

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Leisa Bacon Director of audiences ABC
Alexander Meyer Chief marketing officer The Iconic
Melissa Hopkins Chief marketing officer Optus
Brent Smart Chief marketing officer IAG
Jeremy Nicholas Chief marketing officer Telstra
Sweta Mehra Chief marketing officer ANZ
Martine Jager Chief digital and marketing officer Westpac Group
Jonathan Kerr Chief marketing and delivery officer Auto & General (Budget Direct)
Joel Goodsir Head of marketing Inspirations Paint
Andrew Hicks Chief marketing officer Woolworths Group
Mim Haysom EGM brand and marketing Suncorp Group
Susan Massasso Chief brand and growth officer The a2 Milk Company
Michael Branagh Executive director, global marketing Tourism and Events Queensland
Lara Thom Global chief marketing officer Guzman y Gomez
Melina Cruickshank Chief audience and marketing officer REA Group
Matt Fletcher Head of marketing Fitness First Australia
Martin Brown Director – eBusiness, strategy and marketing, Nestlé Oceania Nestle Australia
Nikki Warburton Chief customer and marketing officer Audi Australia
Natalie Ashes Head of marketing and ecommerce GraysOnline
Josh Grace Chief marketing officer Samsung Australia
Monique Macleod Chief marketing officer Commonwealth Bank
Chris Taylor Chief marketing officer National Heart Foundation
Ryan Gracie Chief marketing officer Catch Group
Allan Collins Chief marketing officer A/NZ Domino’s
Brent Hill Executive director of marketing South Australia Tourism Commission

26 - 50 (In alphabetical order)

Vivianne ArnoldChief marketing officer, Asia PacificHudson Global Resources
Pip ArthurChief marketing officer and communications directorMicrosoft
Caroline BonpainMarketing director A/NZDe'Longhi
Josie BrownChief marketing and insights officerTennis Australia
Bianca BrysonChief marketing and partnerships officerInternational Justice Mission Australia
Yves CalmetteChief marketing officerWorld Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)
Simon ChengChief marketing officerMenulog
Nikki ClarksonChief marketing and communications officerSouthern Cross Austereo
Susan CoghillChief marketing officerTourism Australia
Kellie CordnerChief marketing officerCarsales
Emily DowlingMarketing directorMars Pet Nutrition Australia
Aisling FinchDirector of marketing A/NZGoogle
Anny HavercroftDirector, brand innovation and marketingVerizon Media ANZ
Anthony LieuHead of marketingLegalVision
Fabian MarroneChief marketing officerMonash University
Daniel McDermottMarketing director A/NZMimecast
Nicole McInnesMarketing and commercial director A/NZWW (formerly Weight Watchers)
Tony QuarmbyExecutive general manager, marketingNorthern Territory
Chaminda RanasingheChief marketing officerRMIT University
Suzana RistevskiExecutive, group marketingNational Australia Bank
Natalie Sarich-DaytonDirector sales and marketingBrownes Dairy
Mike ScottChief brand and marketing officerSweat
Stuart TuckerChief customer officerhipages
Luke WaldrenEGM marketing, customer and productTabcorp
Darryn WallaceMarketing and innovation directorLion Dairy & Drinks

Ones to watch (In alphabetical order)

Julia Edwards-Smith Group executive, marketing and digital McMillan Shakespeare Group
Renee Garner Chief marketing officer amaysim
Jason Olive Marketing director Movember Australia
Victoria Primrose Global head of marketing Aurora Expeditions

The very essence of marketing

The battle lines between creative, brand-led marketing and CX, data-driven marketing have been drawn for some time and were in the spotlight during this year’s CMO50 judging. Nadia Cameron reports

There was a serious, earnest tone to the bulk of the CMO50 submissions this year. That’s not surprising given the crises we’ve had to navigate in this unfathomable of years – from devastating bushfires to a global COVID-19 pandemic and the health, economic and societal tsunamis created in its wake.

But also lying at the heart of the CMO50 this year was one of the most important questions our profession is still working to answer: Just what exactly does modern marketing even mean?

The industry has been debating the battle between creative, reach-driven, brand-led marketing on the one hand and data and technology fuelled, customer engagement-oriented, performance-driven marketing on the other, for quite some time now. If this year’s CMO50 submissions are any indication, that battle is still raging.

Yet there’s also growing consensus the very best CMOs will find a way to do both, and that one can’t ultimately exist without the other.

It’s the sixth year of the CMO50, an annual program recognising the work done by Australia’s most effective and innovative marketing leaders. In this year of the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, being effective and innovative took on very different meanings depending on the category and products and services you happen to be marketing.

As to COVID responses, several consistent approaches shone through. For one, smart marketers took the opportunity to snap up cheaper media such as TV to push brand messaging, asking for and securing additional media budget in order to take advantage of growing numbers of consumers turning on the TV in their locked down homes.

Google search data and social platforms were also clearly popular ways to keep a frequent pulse on what consumers were seeking. Others relied on quick pulse surveys, market research offerings and if they were set up for it, first-party data such as voice of customer or online usage patterns.

It was also clearly a time for brand building and fostering a strong sense of engagement with existing customers. Initially, this approach largely meant crisis communications and messages of support, safety and trust and turning off overt sales messaging. If you happened to be working for a business that didn’t already have digital engagement or commerce channels down pat, it was a time for rapid digital product, service or functional capability delivery. For those with the foundations in place, rapid acceleration ensued as consumers and businesses digitised at breakneck speed.

But as the crisis progressed, more marketers recognised they were better off differentiating through the very brand purposes they’ve been working so hard to build buy-in around. A good chunk of this year’s CMO50 shared programs of work pursuing brand purpose frameworks, development and collaboration over the past year.

Then there was the elevation of emotional IQ. Almost all CMO50 nominees talked about the resiliency and adaptability demonstrated by teams throughout the crisis. The great leaders invested

significant time and effort into caring for the holistic wellbeing of their teams. Everything from walking challenges and virtual trivia to standups, town halls, one-to-one check-ins and Wellness Wednesdays was on the list.

But outside of the adaptability, resilience and ability for marketing teams to see the COVID environment as a glass half-full was the much bigger question for judges this year: Just how are we judging the modern CMO?

Non-executive director, former CMO and CMO50 judge, John Batistich, pointed to the diverse role scope represented through submissions this year, and an increase in marketers demonstrating complete product control.

“It’s very noticeable who has control and is influencing product in their organisations,” he commented in response to their impact. Batistich also pointed to heightened focus on purpose than in previous years – a side effect of the COVID crisis and bushfires but clearly something CMOs have had their hearts set on developing well before the pandemic hit. It’s work buying them influence across the organisation.

Batistich, along with several other judges including former Coca-Cola marketing chief and marketing strategist, Lisa Winn, noted continued elevation and maturity of digital and technology skills. There remains a gap between those who are investing and operating digital programs at a tactical level versus those who’ve strategically employed these tools for marketing success, Winn said.

“We saw more examples of strong digital and measurement, brand, insights and big idea thinking coming together more. That level of maturity was good to see,” she said.

Judges also agreed CMO50 contenders showed true resiliency in the face of COVID, levelling up to the challenges and work that needed to be done with a sense of optimism. “You could sense some wanted to embrace this change and saw it as an opportunity to take things in a new direction,” Winn said. “It’s good to see that positive approach to the challenges coming through.”

Yet the very essence of the CMO role was ultimately challenging for judges to arrive at this year. Experienced marketing leader and founder of Macmorgan, David Morgan, described a clear delineation between “those of a CX with martech skills and performance metrics bent, versus those driven by brand development”.

“Then there’s those few who are bringing both these sides together,” Morgan said. “There was definitely more emphasis on the CX and personalisation programs of work this year, and then the brand focused work. Many still see these two things as separate.”

That leads us to the burning question: What do we call marketing now? And which of these should be in the remit, versus in someone else’s? “Is it all about brand management, and therefore not critical to commerce; or CX, and learning to be more commerce oriented?” Morgan asked.

While the answer is both, we haven’t yet arrived at an ideal balance of the two. If this year’s list is anything to go by though, we’re getting closer.

Meanwhile, judges noted less prevalence this year of ‘big bold bets’. Instead, submissions were dominated by examples of connectivity, commerce and gaining consensus first and foremost.

There’s also an ongoing quest to earn a place at the executive leadership table. For some judges, CMOs still have a way to go before they connect the dots on their work and driving commercial

impact. Many are still shaped by sales over profit outcomes, former CMO and non-executive director, Michele Teague commented.

Former marketing and partner for 100 Percent Partners, Michele Phillips, agreed truly earning that seat requires greater effort linking to commercials that matter to the board, such as shareholder returns. “We want to see more of that from CMOs to ensure they play a vital role on the ELT and in driving business focus,” she said.

KPMG adviser and adjunct professor of marketing at the University of Sydney, Andrew Baxter, also pointed to the divide between sophisticated users of data versus those still doing customer journey mapping for the first time. In all of this, he advised marketers to be wary of the “balance of human and digital” as they work to mature in both areas.

“But we are seeing that sense of leadership coming through. It felt there was a more holistic mentality of leaning in to running the company and enacting change on the employee and culture, which is edifying,” Baxter added.