The rising stars of brand marketing

Introducing the rising stars of  brand marketing.

This is Business Insider’s inaugural list recognizing the rising talent reshaping marketing at established brands like Procter & Gamble and Frito-Lay and challengers like Kin Euphorics and Verb Energy.

Whether leading breakthrough campaigns, setting up internal agencies, or building media plans to reach consumers in new ways, these marketing professionals are shaking things up at their companies.

Scroll on to see the 25 rising stars of brand marketing, listed alphabetically.

Kyle Banahan, VP of marketing, SkinnyPop

Kyle Banahan


With double-digit growth in 2019, SkinnyPop has been a star addition to Hershey’s portfolio, and leading its marketing is Banahan.

Banahan, who at 36 is Hershey’s youngest VP, helped promote SkinnyPop as a snack that’s both healthy and tasty and extended it to  microwaveable and cake versions.   

In the pandemic, he promoted SkinnyPop as a healthy choice for remote workers and shifted media dollars toward online channels, helping the brand grow by 10% and e-commerce grow by 200% during the period, according to the company.

Banahan’s responsibilities were recently expanded to include Pirates Booty.

Stephanie Danzi, head of marketing, Ship

Stephanie Danzi


Danzi has helped Ship — Match Group’s biggest product launch since Tinder — carve out a niche in a crowded online dating arena with tie-ups with brands like Crocs and Instagram memes. 

Her work has boosted its awareness with 18- to 35-year-olds and reached 100,000 users faster than any other product that Match has launched since Tinder, according to the company.

She also got Ship to adopt a new way of measuring its marketing that the company claims has helped it cut customer acquisition costs by over 30%.

During the pandemic, she helped people get used to virtual dating through initiatives like “Date from Home” and backgrounds to help make users’ video dates less awkward.

Raphael Diallo, head of inclusive marketing, Google

Raphael Diallo


Over the past four years, Diallo has made inclusion a priority for Google and its advertisers. 

He audited Google’s creative assets to make its own advertising more inclusive; worked with organizations like AdColor and GLAAD to develop diversity guidelines for ads; and created resources for people at Google who work on campaigns.

He also set up a group at Google of marketers from underrepresented backgrounds who volunteer to help make ad campaigns more inclusive. So far this year, the team has reviewed over 200 campaigns, helping to create a Black-owned business badge in Google Maps, for example.

Meg Donovan, head of consumer product marketing, Uber

Meg Donovan


Donovan joined Uber nearly six years ago as one of its earliest marketing employees, and has since helped scale the ride-sharing app from around 75 cities to over 500 cities worldwide while leading its marketing research & strategy in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Donovan was behind Uber’s anti-racism campaign “If you tolerate racism, delete Uber.” During the pandemic, she led campaigns like “Move What Matters” to help prevent the spread of Covid-19; and “No Mask, No Ride,” as well as on-demand services like Uber Connect, a contactless way for people to send packages.

Jessica English, VP of brand, Oura

Jess English


English landed at the sleep and activity tracking startup this year after building Dropbox’s brand marketing.

At Oura, she’s expanded a community blog, built out the company’s stance against social injustice, and worked with partners including the NBA, the WNBA, NASCAR and UFC — helping grow its customer base from 150,000 when she started to over 250,000, according to the company.

Spencer Gordon, VP of digital, Anheuser-Busch InBev

Spencer Gordon


Gordon has quickly risen up the ranks at Anheuser-Busch InBev, leading brands like Bud Light and Michelob Ultra along the way, and now oversees a digital media budget of more than $150 million.

He launched the company’s digital creative agency Draftline, which has grown to a full-service creative agency with 90 people working on A-B’s 42 brands in just under a year.

During the pandemic, Draftline adjusted its marketing and produced more than 500 digital ads in one week alone. When bars and restaurants closed, Gordon’s team created hundreds of assets for platforms like online alcohol delivery service Drizly as shoppers shifted to e-commerce.

Sarah Henry, senior director of content and influencer marketing, Walmart

Sarah Henry


Grocery has become an increasing priority for Walmart, and Henry has been behind some of the retail giant’s most notable grocery pushes, including a content partnership with BuzzFeed’s Tasty that let people add ingredients from recipes right in their Walmart carts and a deal with Nextdoor to help get groceries to vulnerable people during the pandemic.

Henry also helped promote Walmart’s new membership program, Walmart+, which used new channels and media partners like NBC and the NFL and the “Plus Up” campaign about giving missed moments back to people in the pandemic.

Joslin Higgins, senior manager of media, Dunkin’

Joslin Higgins


Since coming on board two years ago, Higgins has doubled Dunkin’s digital media investment, helping its campaigns reach more people while also being more targeted.

In the pandemic, she promoted contactless ordering, curbside pick-up and drive-thru on search engines as well as on platforms like Waze, increasing store visits by 2x, according to the company. 

Most recently, she helped launch Dunkin’s national fall campaign, which the company says is its most efficient campaign launch since 2018, with Dunkin’ paying 60% less than it has in prior national launches to boost incremental store visits.

Charanya Kannan, lead of consumer insights and market strategy, PayPal

Charanya Kannan


The digital payments space is getting increasingly crowded, but Kannan is helping PayPal stay competitive with robust consumer data.

Her team uncovers data about PayPal’s users and merchants and presents it so the company can make business decisions faster. One of her projects presented five years of data on PayPal users not as a never-ending spreadsheet but an easily digestible two-page storyboard.

During the pandemic, she quickly turned around a market study to guide company strategy and created new marketing material for the sales team so they could get more merchants on the platform quickly as e-commerce sales exploded.

Michael Kotick, director of brand marketing, Chipotle

Michael Kotick


Kotick joined Chipotle in 2018 as the company was starting to recover from its food-safety crisis and has helped it grow consistently over the past two years.

He helped push out a new tagline, “For Real,” led purpose-focused campaigns like “Cultivating the Future of Farming,” tested new menu items like cilantro lime cauliflower rice, and helped roll out items like the queso blanco and carne asada — leading to a 7.5% bump in new customers.

In the pandemic, he produced campaigns highlighting tamper-evident packaging and initiatives like the Virtual Farmers’ Market with Shopify that helped farmers improve their e-commerce sites.

Dana Lichtenstein, VP of brand marketing, HBO and HBO Max

Dana Lichtenstein


When the pandemic struck, Lichtenstein’s team had to condense HBO Max’s launch from months to weeks.

The result of that was two campaigns: “Where HBO Meets So Much More” to educate consumers about HBO Max and how it differs from HBO; and “We’ve Got” that showed all the content available on the new streaming service.

She also was behind HBO’s Webby Award-winning pro-social marketing campaign called “It’s OK” that sought to destigmatize mental illness by discussing the mental health issues portrayed in HBO shows.

Melissa Lowry, VP of brand and consumer marketing, Zelle

Melissa Lowry


Zelle has a formidable competitor in Venmo, whose name is synonymous with peer-to-peer payments. But 3-year-old Zelle has defied the odds under Lowry.

Zelle processed over 700 million transactions valued at nearly $187 million in 2019, thanks in part to her campaigns like “This is How Money Moves” and the recent “Pay it Safe” campaign that pitched Zelle as a safe and easy way to send money.

Transactions have risen during the pandemic as people have increasingly favored digital payments, with the network already processing 519 million transactions valued at nearly $133 billion in the first six months of 2020.

Larissa May, director of brand marketing, Kin Euphorics

Larissa May


Kin Euphorics is trying to establish a new category of “functional” non-alcoholic beverages with destressing ingredients like adaptogens, nootropics and botanics — and May is the creative horsepower behind many of its launches and marketing.

She helped roll out products including Kin Spritz, High Rhode, and Dream Light; launched an old-school, alcohol ad-inspired campaign replete with an experiential speakeasy in Los Angeles; and created a sampling program that’s served 12,000 people in seven months.

Jessica McGlory, head of growth marketing, Verb Energy

Jessica McGlory


At direct-to-consumer nutrition bar company Verb Energy, McGlory has led projects like Starter Kit, which lets people build their own kits and chat with a company rep via text; and the fundraising ad campaign Verb Love, which donated more than 600,000 bars to healthcare workers in the pandemic.

On the side, she’s spearheading We’re Not Saving Lives, a collective of marketers fighting systemic oppression and support Black-owned businesses.

Before joining Verb Energy, she helped ESPN+ reach a million subscribers in five months, and drove the Bombas Pride campaign on Facebook and Twitter that helped lead to more than 460,000 pairs of socks donated to homeless LGBTQIA+ youth.

Ligia Patrocinio, senior director, Dos Equis, Heineken US

Ligia Patrocinio


Since 2019, Patrocinio has been on a charge to make Dos Equis competitive with other Mexican beers and appeal to younger drinkers. She’s also launched new products like the Dos Equis Mexican Pale Ale and struck new partnerships with college football teams.

When the pandemic hit, she rushed out a campaign that promoted socializing with a more product-focused ad and developed the Dos Equis 6-feet cooler to encourage social distancing, and reconfigured its college football season plan, producing three spots virtually.

The Unilever vet previously led Heineken brands Desperados and Lagunitas.

Brandon Pierce, VP and executive creative director, Hulu

Brandon Pierce, Hulu


Pierce started leading the streaming service’s new in-house creative studio, Greenhouse, a year ago and quickly made his mark with the 2019 holiday campaign “Home is Where the Hulu is.”

In the pandemic, he reworked the campaign “Hulu Has” to make the point that Hulu’s content is broad enough to suit all the different emotions people were feeling. His team also adapted Hulu’s Newfront from a large-scale, in-person presentation to short videos online.

Most recently, he oversaw the filming, production and promotions of Hulu’s original series “Your Attention Please,” which spotlights upcoming Black talent in the arts, science, and tech.

Lana Rainier, media analytics and insights leader for North America, Procter & Gamble

Lana Rainier


No. 1 marketer Procter & Gamble has been on a push to make its media dollars go further, claiming it’s reduced waste by 20% while increasing reach 10%.

Much of the credit goes to Rainier, who created a cross-media planning and measurement platform for TV and print and created a system to help P&G gather consumer data faster.

In the pandemic, her data chops helped the CPG giant’s brands adapt their media strategy, which contributed to P&G’s single largest sales quarter in history for North America, per the company.

Brandi Ray, senior director of marketing, Frito-Lay

Brandi Ray, Frito Lay


Ray helped Cheetos Popcorn become one of the buzziest brands at the Super Bowl this year — putting Cheetos on its way to becoming PepsiCo’s newest $2 billion brand in 2020, according to the company.

The 10-year PepsiCo vet has worked across various marketing teams and brands including Lays, Tostitos, Ruffles, and SunChips, and has been key to the company’s response to Black Lives Matter, where it committed to spending $430 million to support the Black community in the next five years.

Kate Rouch, VP of marketing, Facebook

Kate Rouch


Rouch built Facebook’s consumer marketing team from three people 10 years ago to 900 today, all while handling brand, product marketing, and media buying.

Last year, she rebranded Facebook to make its name more prominent across its apps as the flagship app’s audience growth has slowed.

During the pandemic, her team quickly created Facebook consumer campaigns “Never Lost,” which promoted how Facebook’s Community Help feature can help in tough times; and “Born in Quarantine,” a Mother’s Day ad that aimed to reassure new mothers by sharing the experience of a 1918 influenza survivor.

Her team also promoted how Facebook supported small businesses with things like the Support Small Business hub to promote local shops and restaurants. 

Mili Shah, head of global business brand, Twitter

Mili Shah Headshot


While still small compared to Google and Facebook, Twitter’s ad business has hit its stride in the past few years, and big credit goes to Shah, who drives much of its marketing with B2B clients.

Her rebrand promoting Twitter as the place for live action across sports, politics and entertainment was used with clients, investors, and employees. She also oversees the global team that sells sponsorships for key events across 12 markets. 

When live events were cancelled due to the pandemic, she got the sales team to focus on selling sports events, resulting in a 200% increase in revenue for Twitter year-over-year when live sports finally returned, per the company.

Michelle Taite, VP, global marketing, Intuit QuickBooks

Michelle Taite


Quickbooks is best known for its B2B accounting software, but Taite has gotten people to start thinking of it as a suite of smart tools that help businesses.

She did this with campaigns like “Backing You” and “Happy Business,” aimed at small businesses and the self-employed.

After Congress passed the CARES act, QuickBooks automated a PPP loan application process so small businesses could keep paying their employees in the pandemic. 

Taite’s team also provided tips for small businesses to get through the pandemic, from managing employees remotely to handling cash flow.

Andy Tu, senior director of brand, content and social, Postmates

Andy Tu


As food and other home-delivery orders surge during the pandemic, Tu has kept Postmates top of mind through partnerships with Hulu, Rick and Morty, and Netflix, and campaigns to support local merchants and Black-owned businesses.

Last year, he promoted the delivery app as a verb with national campaigns like “Postmate It” that featured Martha Stewart trying to salvage kitchen disasters by using Postmates, and  ‘When all you can Think about is” that showed what it’s like to be consumed by cravings.

Tu also drove “The Receipt,” an influencer-fueled video series starring celebrities like Kylie and Kendall Jenner and John Legend and Chrissy Teigen.

Jordan Viola, head of brand, Eat Just

Jordan Viola


Since plant-based startup Eat Just (formerly Hampton Creek) started seven years ago, Viola built everything from the company’s logo and website to packaging and marketing materials.

He’s overseen campaigns like “#TheNewBreakfastClub;” helped the company weather allegations over juiced sales numbers, mislabeled products and food safety and adulteration issues; and launched new products like Just Egg, which became the No. 1 egg substitute across grocery stores, according to IRI.

During the pandemic, he’s led initiatives like “Plant-based hits” that promoted Just Egg with recipes, tutorials and influencer content. And he just launched the Future Food Studio in China, a cooking pop-up where chefs will teach people how to cook with Just Egg.

Caroline Watts, brand marketing manager, YouTube

CAROLINE WATTS.JPG


Watts’ job is to make sure YouTube features underrepresented people in its marketing materials.

She does this by elevating Black creator and artist voices across the platform, funding initiatives around Juneteenth and the March on Washington.

During the pandemic, she was key to coordinating YouTube’s global consumer campaign “Stay Home #WithMe” that promoted the platform as a source of useful and inspiring content.

Zoe Zeigler, VP of brand and advertising, Chase Sapphire, JPMorgan Chase

Zoe Zeigler


Zeigler has helped jazz up Chase Sapphire’s marketing over the past three years with star-studded ad campaigns featuring the likes of Mark Ronson and Awkwafina; media sponsorships; and tie-ups with brands like Lyft.

With travel falling off in the pandemic, she shifted Chase Sapphire’s focus to perks that supported local dining with campaigns that gave users benefits on places like DoorDash. She also promoted benefits like points on Instacart and streaming services to reflect how customers are shifting their spending online.

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