Innovator 25 2014 | Holmes Report

The Innovator 25 - 2014

We launched the In2 Innovator 25 in 2013 to celebrate those who have contributed great work or ideas that have pushed our industry forward. The 2014 Innovator 25 now takes another glimpse at our industry’s future, shining the light on those individuals who are shaping what influence and engagement will look like tomorrow. This year’s innovators come from various corners of the industry — creative strategy, digital execution, online sales, storytelling — but together they represent the whole picture of what marketing and communications represents in the modern era.

Like any list, this one has its limitations, and among them is its geographic scope. Because standards of innovation vary from region-to-region, we kept the Innovator 25 2014 focused on the United States. Within the US, however, the innovators are spread across the country: San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas and New York are among the cities represented.

This year’s innovators overwhelmingly (65%) identified as working in the field of influence and engagement. Remarkably, only 35% believe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation is lagging behind other marketing disciplines — compared to the 67% of innovators who called the PR industry “lagging” last year. Moreover, 30% say comms/PR is more innovative than other sectors (compared to 10% last year) — indicating growing optimism within the industry for PR to adapt and thrive in the digital era.

When it comes to innovation, marketing and PR have the greatest opportunity to make an impact around content creation and creative copy, say 33% of the innovators, while social media/online marketing and planning/analytics each fared about 28%. Fifty-percent (both in-house and agency side) report into the CEO of their organizations — up slightly from last year — and one-in-four aren’t part of a reporting structure at all.

The CMO came out on top (63%) as the person who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is, meanwhile 32% believe it’s the CEO. Only about 5% said the CCO is most influential over a brand’s innovation in this area. Last year, 43% of the innovators put the CMO in the top slot. The innovators tended to favor San Francisco and New York as places where innovation thrives, but others pointed out that innovation can exist anywhere — and is not constrained by conventional geographic boundaries.



The 25 innovators profiled in this list have evolved the practice, and appreciation, of influence and engagement. In compiling this list, the Holmes Report relied on external nominations and industry input, along with its own editorial research. Accordingly, the innovators were selected based on their:

  • Challenging the industry’s boundaries and definitions of influence and engagement;
  • Wittingly or otherwise elevating the role of communications within their organizations or the industry at large;
  • Pushing communications into broader realms beyond media relations;
  • Only one person could be selected from a particular company or agency.

Where are they now? Updates from the 2013 Innovator 25

John Bell
Then: Global managing director at Social@Ogilvy
Now: VP of enterprise digital marketing at Travelers Insurance

Ashley Brown
Then: Global group director of digital communications and social media at Coca-Cola
Now: VP of social strategy at Spredfast

Ken Shuman
Then: VP of communications at Trulia
Now: VP of communications at NerdWallet

Mark Stouse
Then: VP of global communications at BMC Software
Now: Founding and managing member of Vaulting Ventures

Cricket Wardein
Then: US digital practice head at Edelman
Now: President of the Western region at Edelman