Marketing is evolving at lightspeed. The credit for this goes to several defiant “Madmen” (and women) who dare to shake things up, whether it’s updating social algorithms, rethinking how ads are produced, or challenging our entire perceptions about a particular product.
It’s such a treat to study these minds. Following their work alone can teach you so much, possibly more than what you learned in the classroom. So here’s to their bold ideas, techniques, theories, and campaigns!
As part homage and part refresher, I’ve compiled a list of 100+ names and faces every marketer should know. Whether you’re a student or a veteran, this directory will guide you through our industry’s Hall of Fame. Who knows, maybe you’ll find the inspiration to be the next name on the wall?
Akshar Pathak (1989- )
Zomato is the most viral and engaged Indian startup brand on social media. People may use their competitor Swiggy to buy food but when it comes to consuming content, there’s just no competition.
There’s one team leader’s vision behind those witty puns, jokes, memes, campaigns, and signature red-and-white copy posters that have rocked the country’s internet (and OOH spaces) for ages. That man is Akshar, a young comedian from Delhi.
He worked with a couple of design agencies and Nike after college and saw his first brush with fame on Twitter as a graphic designer. Akshar’s quirky and minimalist movie posters racked up thousands of likes. The handle now has 1.9M followers. He’s now more active on Instagram.
Then he joined Zomato in 2013 and has been the Art Director there for 8 years, conceptualizing novel stories and crafting a legacy that all Indian marketers follow willingly or unwillingly.
- Case Study On Zomato’s Digital Marketing Strategy  via IIDE
- Zomato Shows the Way to Social Media Marketing. Take Note! via ThinkToShare
David Ogilvy (1911-1999)
A British copywriter, author, and the visionary founder of the world’s biggest ad agency based in NYC, he’s aptly known as the ‘Father of Advertising.’ His clients included Dove, Rolls-Royce, and Schweppes. All of them met with huge market success through his signature witty long-copy print ads.
His seminal book “Ogilvy on Advertising” (1983) remains a timeless guide for aspiring marketers.
- David Ogilvy’s iconic ads via Swipeworthy
- 13 Timeless Lessons from the Father of Advertising via Copyblogger
- The Best Selling Headline Of David Ogilvy’s Copywriting Career via ReferralCandy
Neil Patel (1985- )
Neil is recognized by Forbes as one of the top 10 online marketers out there, period. He’s the “OG” content marketer who popularized content strategy, SEO, and scientific brand blogging.
He has launched many popular startups like Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, Ubersuggest, and KISSmetrics. Amazon, Viacom, and NBC are just some big names on the client list. Neil now runs his own proprietary agency.
Neil hails from Indian descendants in the UK but is now settled in Seattle, US.
- Who is… Neil Patel? via Martech Alliance
- Interview with Neil Patel on Content Marketing With Awesome Rapid Fire via Sorav Jain
Gary Vaynerchuk (1975- )
This man needs no introduction for Gen-Z readers. He’s a globally revered serial entrepreneur with expertise in social media, viral content, and marketing.
He started in the wine industry and later launched VaynerX (a communications and media company), as well as the huge VaynerMedia (a social ad agency with HQs in NYC & an office in Singapore).
His Instagram, which currently sits at 9 million followers, is oozing with wisdom and no-bullshit tips for marketers, and the same goes for his half a dozen business books!
Vaynerchuk is of Belurisian-American descent.
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World via PDFDrive
- The Ultimate Advice For Every 20 Year Old via YouTube
If you’re in Search Engine Optimization, this is one name you’ll hear a lot in the circle. John has been a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google Switzerland since 2007. But what sets him apart is his involvement in public discussions on web ranking (or anything internet-related), especially on Twitter @JohnMu.
Many SEOs ask him questions about Google’s algorithms, and how they can improve their websites to stay on top of the list, which he actively tackles in text threads or videos on all social channels.
He’s also one of the first voices to announce or clear up any myths and confusion regarding Google’s new updates, earning him the title of a “Search Advocate.”
Follow him to keep up with the search giant’s ever-changing strategies and priorities because your site’s reach directly depends on them.
Philip Kotler (1931- )
Kotler is a renowned marketing professor at Kellogg university. He’s also an economist and prolific author of over 80+ textbooks used by business students worldwide.
He defined new foundational concepts and theories like the 4 Ps marketing mix (price, product, promotion, place), demarketing, atmospherics, prosumers, and societal marketing. That’s probably why he’s considered as the “Father of Modern Marketing.”
- Marketing 4.0: Moving from traditional to digital (2017) via PDFDrive
- Lecture at Chicago Humanities Festival (2012) via YouTube
- Kotler’s Twitter handle @kotl
Evin Spiegel (1990- )
Spiegal is the co-founder and CEO of the American social media company Snap Inc., which he created (as Snapchat Inc.) with Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown while they were students at Stanford University. Spiegel was the youngest billionaire in the world in 2015.
He is married to Miranda Kerr, and speaks French along with English.
As of 2021, Snapchat has 306 million daily active users worldwide, who login daily to use its innovative AR & AI filter features. It has pioneered filter technology, which put pressure on other social media platforms like Facebook-led Instagram & TikTok to up their games in that domain.
Spiegel’s creation has fundamentally affected social media messaging, too, because of how Snapchat’s model works: the messages dissapear after viewing, and cannot be stored unless screenshotted (which does notify the user). There is no chat history.
This was perhaps the most important factor in its rise of popularity among youngsters who value their privacy more than previous generations.
So that concludes our list of people who influenced (or are still influencing) the world of brands. Who are your favorites? Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments!
Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” So I hope that you build on the foundations set by these leaders, eventually stunning the world with your own unique style.
Can’t wait to add your name here soon!