Judging process and criteria

The CMO50 annual list is aimed at recognising Australia’s 50 most innovative Chief Marketing Officers driving business impact within their organisation. The 2021 list is brought to you by our exclusive sponsor, Adobe.

Now in its seventh year, this annual list celebrates those leading the marketing function who are demonstrating innovative, strategic thinking, driving business change and commercial success, showcasing modern marketing leadership, and enabling greater collaboration and better customer engagement as a result. Through this, we again hope to meet our ultimate objective, which is to shine a spotlight on the increased importance of Australian marketing leaders in business.

The CMO50 is only open to the top Australia-based marketer within an organisation with responsibility for the vision and strategy of the whole company marketing function. In order to be included in the judging process, marketers have to either self-nominate, or be nominated by a suitable peer, via a standardised submission form. Specifically, this year’s questionnaire is about showcasing:

  • Business contribution and innovation
  • A customer engagement-led approach to marketing thinking and effectiveness
  • The application of data and/or technology in marketing strategy and programs
  • Empowered, bold and strategic thinking
  • Resiliency and adaptability in the face of change
  • Inspired marketing and team leadership
  • Demonstration of marketing’s commercial effectiveness

To ensure our CMO50 is as comprehensive and commendable as possible, we have compiled a strong industry judging panel to determine the final 50 list. Our judging panel encompasses respected figures from different parts of the industry, including former marketing and brand leaders, agency and industry association representatives, along with creativity, leadership, innovation and data experts. All have extensive experience in marketing and its changing demands. We sincerely thank all of our judges for the time and effort they spend in helping produce this list.

The 2021 judges list includes:

  • John Batistich, former director of marketing, Scentre Group (Westfield)
  • Andrew Baxter, former chair of Publicis and senior advisor to KPMG's Customer, Brand & Marketing Advisory business
  • Mark Buckman, former CMO and senior advisor, Accenture Interactive
  • Susan Massasso, former chief brand and growth officer, The a2 Milk Company
  • David Morgan, brand consultant and founder, MacMorgan
  • Michele Phillips, managing partner, 100 Percent Partners
  • Michael Rebelo, CEO, Publicis Groupe A/NZ
  • David Scribner, former chief customer officer, oOh!media
  • Georgina Williams, board director, former CMO
  • Lisa Winn, building business strategies and innovative solutions
  • Mike Zeederberg, managing director, Zuni

Judges are asked to read all completed submissions and judge each on key areas: Demonstrating innovation and bold thinking; demonstrating data and/or a technology-driven approach; demonstrating strategic performance and commercial acumen; and demonstrating adaptability and resiliency. The final combined score for each individual used as the basis for the list. Judges will meet in person to debate their scores and the final order of our CMO50 list.

As part of our submissions process, an invitation to nominate will be circulated to more than 300 of Australia’s top marketing leaders, identified by CMO’s editorial team as well as our judging panel. We also provide online links and calls to action on our website,, and CMO Digest newsletter.

While there was no minimum tenure set for marketers wanting to participate, a number of CMOs have previously chosen not to enter because they have been in their respective positions for less than 12 months. Applicants need to have been in the position detailed in their application up until June 2021 in order to be eligible for consideration. In addition, as part of the program and at the discretion of our judging panel, we highlight a number of new or recently installed CMOs as ‘ones to watch’ each year.

NOTE: Nominations have been extended and are now due to be submitted by no later than Monday 16 August 2021.

Final selections are confirmed by our judging panel and are not open to further discussion or negotiation. All scores will be kept confidential and are not being released publicly, nor will they be discussed with any individual applicants.

The 2021 CMO50 will be revealed at our special in-person CMO50 event in October, in CMO magazine October 2021, online in our dedicated portal:

This year, we're delighted to confirm the return of our exclusive dinner event to celebrate the achievements of the CMO50 on 21 October 2021. The exclusive, invite-only occasion provides a valuable networking forum for Australia’s leading marketers.

Announcing The Marketer's Champion

As part of our 2021 program, we're also pleased to announce the judges will be introducing a new annual accolade, The Marketer's Champion, to recognise one individual's contribution to progressing the marketing community's role within the wider business community.

The Marketer’s Champion is about recognising one individual no longer in a CMO position and who has progressed their career beyond marketing leadership, but who continues to contribute and give back to the marketing community to ensure the profession is respected as an active business contributor and growth driver.

We’re asking all of our judges as well as CMO50 nominees this year to put forward 1-2 individuals they consider worthy of such an accolade. These names will be collated and presented to our CMO50 judging panel in 2021 for discussion to determine our final choice.

Our inaugural Marketer's Champion will be revealed alongside this year's CMO50 list at our special CMO50 dinner in October. If you'd like to contribute a suggestion for this award, please email CMO Publisher and Editor, Nadia Cameron:

We welcome constructive feedback on how we can further enhance this list in recognition of the industry.