Headspace Appoints Val Kaplan Zapata Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, Headspace hires Val Kaplan Zapata as chief marketing officer; Connected Cannabis names Craig Lyon vice president, head of marketing; the Network of Executive Women elects three new board members; Lionsgate chief marketing officer Damon Wolf steps down; Sesame Workshop appoints Wanda Witherspoon first chief diversity officer; Petco announces three new board members; Wayfair’s chief product and marketing officer Ed Macri will retire and more.

Headspace Names Val Kaplan Zapata Chief Marketing Officer

Val Kaplan Zapata will be joining Headspace as the company’s new CMO starting in April.

Zapata joins Headspace from Hulu, where she spent nearly four years, most recently as vice president of growth marketing.

Connected Cannabis Hires Craig Lyon As Vice President, Head Of Marketing

Connected Cannabis has named Craig Lyon VP, head of marketing.

Lyon previously spent a decade at Nike, most recently as senior director of brand for the Central US and Canadian marketplace.

Network Of Executive Women Adds Three New Board Members

The Network of Executive Women (NEW) has elected three new members to its board of directors.

The latest members include Valerie Jabbar, group VP of Kroger, Mike Theilmann, EVP, chief human resources officer, Albertsons Cos.; and Jennifer Wilson, SVP brand marketing, Lowe’s.

Lionsgate Head Of Global Marketing Damon Wolf To Exit

Damon Wolf, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group’s chief marketing officer, is stepping down, according to Deadline.

Wolf first joined Lionsgate in June 2018 after serving as co-head of marketing at TriStar Pictures and Screen Gems for Sony.

Sesame Workshop Appoints Wanda Witherspoon As Chief Diversity Officer

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, has elevated veteran employee Wanda Witherspoon to the newly created role of chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer.

According to a company press release, Witherspoon will be responsible for ensuring the organization is committed to equity at every level of its global business practices, including vendor selection, employee recruitment, staff training and more.

Witherspoon has been with Sesame Workshop since 1997 as vice president of public affairs and special events, for which responsibilities which she will retain.

Wayfair Chief Product And Marketing Officer Ed Macri To Retire

Wayfair’s chief product and marketing officer, Ed Macri, will retire this year after being with the company for 14 years.

Bob Sherwin, Wayfair’s VP of marketing, will take over Macri’s position, which will be renamed.

Petco Adds Three New Members To Board Of Directors

Petco has announced the addition of three new board members. They include Sabrina Simmons, former EVP and chief financial officer of Gap, Mike Mohan, president and chief executive of Best Buy and Mary Sullivan, senior managing director and chief talent officer at Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

McLaren Automotive Taps Gareth Dunsmore For Chief Marketing Officer

McLaren Automotive has hired Gareth Dunsmore to lead the company’s global marketing efforts as CMO.

Dunsmore joins McLaren after an 18-year run at Nissan Motor Corporation, where he most recently served as VP of brand and customer experience for Africa, the Middle East, India, Europe and Oceania.

Marriott International Elects Two New Board Members

Marriott International has elected two new board members—David Marriott, president of Marriott’s US hotel divisions, and Horacio Rozanski, president and CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

The additions bring Marriott’s board membership to 13.

Listen In: Growing DEI Through A ‘Community Garden’ Approach

Ayzenberg Sr. Project Manager Royce Matthews leads this episode’s candid conversation with Say Space co-founders Bianca Wilson and Emily Race. Wilson and Race discuss the intricacies of collectively creating a space for honest and continuing discussions around DEI.

The duo first collaborated as self-elected agency ‘change agents’ before forming Say Space, connecting over a common understanding of how to help businesses undertake a deep and public analysis of their diversity deficits. Bianca and Emily then discuss how the concept of change agents became instrumental to their core mission and a realignment was undertaken to put ‘the individual’ at the center.

This discussion also touches on how individual identities of company employees form an overall corporate vision, including why a mandate for self-criticism is crucial before sustainably promoting DEI initiatives. “We’re here to support the liberation of the individuals within a company and in doing so hopefully that creates a shift in the company, but it’s a relationship,” says Bianca, adding: “those people will be liberated and leave [if they feel unsupported].” Other questions answered include: What are the tools that people need to be effective change agents without getting too burnt out on the toll of emotional labor? How does your personal vision and not obligation help define your boundaries and engagement with DEI initiatives?

About Say Space: “Through workshops, coaching & consulting, we create an intentional space for transformative conversations around the blind spots within your organization. Out of these conversations, we uncover new opportunities for powerful leadership, unparalleled communication and dynamically inclusive cultures that are a catalyst for the next level of your organization’s success.”

About Listen In: Each week on Listen In, Ayzenberg VP and ECD Matt Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg will interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the a.network audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

Gary Goodman’s Creative Picks: Changemakers

We’re living in strange times with an unprecedented sense of isolation and dislocation from our families, communities and teams. I don’t want to speak for everyone but because of this, I think we’re all looking for a way to connect and feel that we’re part of something larger.

In a sense, we are trying to give our world meaning. So for this month’s article, I thought I’d celebrate a few exemplary examples of the pro-bono cause-marketing work that I’ve come across. For most agencies, these are important opportunities to rally their people to bring their unique storytelling and communication skills to something personal and meaningful that can truly change the world for the better.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – “Rise and Shine”

Last week was Fat Tuesday or for us fellow Louisianans, better known as Mardi Gras Day. In New Orleans and even in my hometown of Shreveport, it’s usually the culmination and climax from a week-long celebration of community, history, culture, music, food, parades, and of course…beads—lots and lots of beads! Last year, Mardi Gras was really the last big national festival before the world shut down. With an unprecedented 12 months now behind us, we are seeing the results of a really tough year, especially for the musicians that are the lifeblood of one of the most musical cities in the world.

Why it matters:  This is a beautiful film and clocking in at nearly 4 minutes, goes deep to tell a big story in a very personal way. Led by one of the most celebrated musicians in New Orleans’ vibrant jazz culture, Trombone Shorty kicks off the film standing atop a roof as the day is breaking while belting out haunting and lonely notes from his trombone. Simultaneously we follow a truck through various neighborhoods as a local radio announcer sets up how hard the musical community has been hit by the pandemic. What transpires from there is like a feel-good New Orleans-style Christmas story that can’t help but put a smile on your face. The truck is delivering instruments to doorsteps throughout the neighborhood that will slowly be discovered by its inhabitants. Trombone Shorty’s horn is the call to action for everyone to join in and feel connected in a way that only music can do. The piece wraps up with the poignant call to action, “If you’ve ever been saved by music, here’s your chance to return the favor.” So personal and powerful.

The details: As with most pro bono efforts, this film was generously made possible by a 75-person nationwide team. The director Ben Sonntag said, “When there’s a cause attached to art, the vision is easily shared, dialed in, and everyone puts their heart into it. Every person involved wanted to make the best film possible for the foundation and was open to how we got there. There was no ego, just a truly unified effort. Everyone was all in.”  

According to Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, “It’s been a rough time for our city’s musicians – many are hurting. Being a part of that community, I know that we have to be there for one another. We’ve always banded together to help each other – it’s more important now than ever. Music lovers, join us to help keep NOLA music alive.” 

The good news is that the Music Relief Fund was established in March 2020 and to date has distributed more than $1M to musicians across the state. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get back to New Orleans and get sucked back into their rich musical culture. It’s truly priceless.

Ad Council/WB/CDC – “Mask Up America”

Next up is from our good friends at Ad Council, which has been fighting the good fight since 1949 to bring “creativity and causes” together.

Why it matters: Over the years, we’ve done some of our favorite and most meaningful work with Ad Council to promote campaigns like “She Can Stem” and “Love Has No Labels.” This time around, Ad Council partnered directly with Warner Bros and the CDC to help remind us all how important it is to mask up and prevent the spread of COVID. According to a recent Axios survey, only about ¾ of Americans wear masks outside their home on a consistent basis, and if we could get that number up to ninety-five percent it could save nearly 22,000 lives by May 20. So come on people! Well, don’t just listen to me; in this video, you get to see it put in action by some of the most iconic characters in movie history. Taking footage from Wonder Woman, The Matrix, Casablanca, Mad Max, Lord of the Rings, The Joker, Creed and Harry Potter to name a few, the WB team assembled famous IP to get the message across.

The details: My hat goes off to the team at Warner’s in-house creative studio 10th Street Productions who were responsible for bringing this endeavor to the finish line. Knowing what I know about the approvals and logistics involving the multitude of very high-level stakeholders, I can only imagine what the workstreams and approval processes must have looked like. That said, the final result is beautifully done and Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman look stunning all masked up from 1942.

Google/Ad Council – “Get the Facts – COVID-19 Vaccine”

To wrap it up, I thought I’d double-dip on supporting the Ad Council in this multifaceted campaign that just dropped this week entitled, “It’s Up To You.” 

Why it matters: Multiple brands and agencies participated in the “It’s Up To You” campaign, but the one that caught my eye was this clever visual and social-forward animation approach from Google. Kicking off with a syncopated percussion track and using a flexing arm emoticon, this 25-second spot delivers its message in a very straightforward manner: no matter who you are, now is the time to get your vaccine! By cycling through a diverse range of arm pigmentation and the corresponding bandaids, this spot does an excellent job of speaking to everyone. The flexing arm underscores the need for people to feel empowered to take charge and do their part to end this pandemic. So simple and effective.

The details: This is apparently one of the largest public-education campaigns in U.S. history with more than 300 brands participating, and is backed by $500M in donated media and talent. The primary target is the 40% of Americans who are undecided about getting the vaccine. According to Dr. Fauci, at least 75% of the population must develop immunity before we can get back to a “normal life.” I don’t know about you, but I’m just waiting for my turn—it can’t come fast enough!

Progressive Insurance Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Charney To Retire

This week in leadership updates, Progressive’s CMO Jeff Charney is retiring and Jo Feeney steps down from McDonald’s Australia marketing director. 

Progressive Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Charney To Retire

Progressive Insurance’s CMO for more than a decade, Jeff Charney, is set to retire, the company announced. Charney will stay on until January 2022, but the company says that the exact timing will depend on securing his replacement.

McDonald’s Australia Marketing Director Jo Feeney Departs

Jo Feeney, director of marketing for McDonald’s Australia, has stepped down to become CMO at jewelry brand Michael Hill.

Feeney was with McDonald’s for over seven years, first as national marketing manager and most recently as director of marketing.

Wendy’s Taps Dr. Beverly Stallings-Johnson For Vice President, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer

Wendy’s has appointed Dr. Beverly Stallings-Johnson to the newly created role of VP, chief diversity, equity and inclusion.

Stallings-Johnson joins Wendy’s from the city of Columbus, where she served as chief diversity officer. Prior to that, she spent over 25 years at Xerox, most recently as equal employment opportunity officer as well as chief diversity and inclusion global compliance and policy officer.

Songtradr Taps Lindsay Nahmiache For Chief Marketing Officer

Songtradr has named Lindsay Nahmiache as CMO.

Nahmiache is also the co-founder and chief executive officer of Jive PR + Digital.

United Community Bank Hires Francie Staub For Chief Marketing Officer

Francie Staub has joined United Community Bank as CMO.

Staub joins Union from Capital One, where she led brand marketing for US credit cards.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau Names Gina Garrubbo Board Chair

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has appointed Gina Garrubbo, president and chief executive of National Public Media, chair of its board of directors.

Garrubbo has served as the IAB board’s vice chair since August 2020 and as the co-chair of the IAB Audio Committee since 2017.

Additionally, IAB elected three new board members, including Renie Anderson, chief revenue officer and EVP of NFL partnerships; Jerry Dischler, VP and general manager of ads at Google; and Rob Master, VP of media and digital engagement at Unilever.

What We’re Reading—Week Of March 1st

A short survey of the articles we’re sharing together at AList.

Stereotypes In Ads Are Bad For Men’s Health, So What’s The Cure? Reinvent Or Remove?

The Drum

Gender stereotypes are increasingly being recognized as a public, political and moral health concern requiring resolution. The ad industry now recognizes that “outdated depictions of manhood and masculinity are just as corrosive as misogynistic tropes.” The question remains: Should these tropes be reinvented or removed?

Why it matters: Eighty-five percent of consumers, men included, say that “equitable representation shows a brand’s commitment to all customers.” A solution for clients and agencies is to mandate diverse teams and empower each other to listen when interrogating the assignments.

How Online Privacy Issues Will Shape Future Use Of Artificial Intelligence In Advertising


Sheri Bachstein, IBM’s global head of Watson Advertising, says that federal legislation is required to strike the balance between effective marketing and the protection of consumer rights.

Why it matters: She believes that the growth of augmented reality (AI) drives the future of digital advertising, and therefore must be recognized as a “tangible solution that can deliver real outcomes while keeping consumer privacy intact.”

Gatorade’s New ‘Sweat Patch’ And App Deliver Personalized Hydration Recommendations

Ad Age

In efforts to democratize sports science technology, Gatorade’s Gx Sweat Patch pairs with a Gatorade-made app to help the masses customize their hydration strategies during exercise. At $24.99 each, the patch collects sweat samples that, once scanned, recommend specifics on pre- and post-workout hydration.

Why it matters: Gatorade’s attempt at providing customers with smart products plays into the personalization trend pioneered by Coca-Cola’s “Share-a-Coke,” and comes after Gatorade retail sales dropped to 67.7 percent in 2020 from 76.6 percent in 2015.

How Leaders Can Solve the Learning Dilemma

MIT Sloan Management Review

Gallup data found that only 40 percent of employees strongly agree that they have opportunities at work to learn and grow. Covid-19 has highlighted digital skills gaps in organizations working remotely, potentially the result of defining learning too narrowly, and failing to determine how behaviors hinder effective learning. 

Why it matters: The MIT SMR Executive Guide “The Future of Workplace Learning” shows how unlearning plays a role in shaping the future, and suggests that leaders must address internal behaviors that block progress in diversity and embrace new ways to support the talent pipeline of the 21st century. 

B2B Marketers’ Newest Venture: Clubhouse

The Drum

Clubhouse, the invite-only, audio-led social media platform where users can insert themselves into conversations rather than listen passively, can benefit B2B companies in multiple ways, including: the ability to deliver interactive experiences, reach an already engaged audience and create sponsored rooms and brand ambassadors that help promote organic brand awareness.

Why it matters: Clubhouse achieved a $1 billion valuation in its first year. Plus, the app went from just 3,500 users in December to over 600,000 at the time of reporting.

How To Connect With Consumers On Social Justice Issues

Consumers increasingly expect brands to take a stand on social causes that are important to them, a phenomenon inspiring many companies to embrace content that encourages transparent conversation around important movements over content that simply delights.

Kantar’s latest study set out to understand how brands can respond to this shift by conducting contextual research on consumers’ personal values. Using artificial intelligence analytics tools, the firm identified five ways marketers can engage consumers through social justice awareness and action. 

First, brands must have brave conversations. Kantar examined 17 personal values including improvement, fairness, equality and energy, and observed an increase in consumer conversations around bravery in the context of racism, community and family. Brands that aren’t afraid to speak out include Nike for its anti-racist “For Once Don’t Do It” campaign, which amassed over 5 million views, and Ben & Jerry’s for publishing bold statements such as “We must dismantle white supremacy.”

Next, brands should support black- and minority-owned businesses. Kantar studied 15 actions including donations, boycotts and employee support, and noticed the common theme in consumer conversations here is how brands can make it easy to help and contribute to small businesses. UberEats, for example, launched an initiative in June 2020 that waived delivery fees for black-owned restaurants.

Consumers also want brands to play a role in bringing about peace, equality and justice. For brands, this means investing in diversity and donations. A notable example of a brand meeting this demand is Google. As Kantar notes, the tech giant recently named Jewel Burks Solomon as head of Google for Startups and pledged $5 million to BlackTech founders through its startups program.

Similarly, Kantar found an increase in online conversations about Nike’s backing of Colin Kaepernick. As a result, consumers linked Nike products “positively to the support and energy embodied by the brand.”

According to Kantar, to successfully pursue positive change around social justice awareness, a brand must: hold everyone at every level accountable, be bold and authentic in their voice, implement internal practices that match external messaging, commit human and financial resources and be brave enough to pave the way without a how-to guide. 

A good starting point is to lead with a desire to understand cultural trends and changing consumer needs, as well as utilize data to understand the nature and impact of their online conversations and values. Only by listening and acting on this information will brands form a deeper connection with their audience.

Banana Republic Taps Ana Andjelic As Its New Chief Brand Officer

This week in leadership updates, Banana Republic hires Ana Andjelic as its new chief brand officer, State Street names Theresa McLaughlin global CMO, Travel + Leisure Co. taps Noah Brodsky as president, Target elevates Cara Sylvester to EVP, chief marketing and digital officer, Discovery appoints Patrizio Spagnoletto as global CMO, direct-to-consumer, and National 4-H names Ivan Heredia SVP and CMO.

Banana Republic Names Ana Andjelic As New Chief Brand Officer

Banana Republic has hired Ana Andjelic as its new chief brand officer, the company announced in a LinkedIn post.

Andjelic, who Forbes recently named one of its most influential CMOs in 2020, joins from her namesake ad agency, where she served as principal. Prior to that, she was CMO for Mansur Gavriel.

Target Elevates Cara Sylvester As Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing And Digital Officer

As part of a string of updates to its executive leadership team, Target has promoted Cara Sylvester to EVP and chief marketing and digital officer.

Sylvester has been with the company since 2007, and most recently worked as senior vice president of home.

In her new role, Sylvester is expected to strengthen affinity for the Target brand and further its loyalty program and in-house media company.

Discovery Names Patrizio Spagnoletto Global Chief Marketing Officer For Direct-To-Consumer

Patrizio Spagnoletto is joining Discovery as the company’s global CMO, DTC, a newly created role.

Spagnoletto joins Discovery from Hulu, where he was EVP and head of marketing.

National 4-H Council Appoints Ivan Heredia As Senior Vice President And Chief Marketing Officer

The National 4-H Council has named Ivan Heredia as its new SVP and CMO, according to a press release.

Heredia spent the last nine years at Walt Disney Co., where he was VP of marketing, brand engagement and revenue. Prior to that, he served as director of marketing and talent relations at Nickelodeon.

State Street Names Theresa McLaughlin Global Chief Marketing Officer

State Street has appointed Theresa McLaughlin as its new global CMO.

McLaughlin joins from TD Bank Financial Group, where she worked as global chief marketing, customer experience and corporate citizenship officer for eight years.

Travel + Leisure Co. Elevates Noah Brodsky To President

Noah Brodsky, current chief brand officer at Travel + Leisure Co., has added president of Travel + Leisure Group to his title.

Brodsky has been chief brand officer for the company, formerly Wyndham Destinations, for nearly four years.

Pokémon Launches Global Music Campaign, Brand Partnerships And Collectibles For 25th Anniversary

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Pokémon has launched a limited-edition collection with Levi’s featuring the denim brand’s signature styles updated with the franchise’s bright colors and graphics.

Among the playful pieces for adults and children are graphic T-shirts, trucker jackets, jeans, crewneck sweatshirts, bags and headwear emblazoned with the game’s popular characters, including Pikachu, Charizard and Snorlax. Fans can customize their picks with a personalized message, laser-etched design and more using Levi’s customization tools online.

The Levi’s Pokémon collaboration is just one part of the franchise’s massive 25th anniversary celebration, which includes a global music campaign with Universal Music Group (UMG), dubbed P25 and headlined by Katy Perry, as well as year-round programming involving artists from UMG’s labels.

Pokémon is kicking off the festivities with a free virtual Post Malone concert on February 27, which fans can watch on Pokémon’s YouTube, Twitch or anniversary website. After the show, the company will reveal details about Perry’s participation and how the P25 Music program will come to life this year.

On the day of the concert, Pokémon will be running music-themed episodes of Pokémon the Series via Pokémon TV and the Pokémon TV mobile app.

In addition to music-themed activations, Pokémon has partnered with a host of brands on promotions and merchandise. From now until March 8, fans can visit participating McDonald’s to receive four Pokémon Trading Card Game cards and a new toy in every Happy Meal. Pokémon also has collaborations lined up with Build-A-Bear Workshop, General Mills, Jazwares, Scholastic, Mattel, Funko, PowerA and The Wand Company.

In-game Pokémon events are slated to take place as well. Starting February 25, players can add a special Pikachu to their Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield with a special password they can access on the game’s website, social media channels, and Trainer Club newsletter. In keeping with the P25 music theme, this Pikachu will have the ability to perform a move called Sing.

Fans can shop from a line of branded Pokémon collectibles throughout the year, which will include a 25th anniversary-themed skateboard by Bear Walker, and a special collector’s binder for Pokémon trading cards available at participating retailers.

Minnesota Vikings Name Martin Nance As Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, the Minnesota Vikings appoint Martin Nance as EVP and CMO, Snapchat hires Doug Frisbie as VP of business marketing, Forbes announces its third annual CMO Next List, the San Diego Padres taps Chris Connolly as SVP of marketing, Spin Media names Mark Stroman CMO, Hallmark’s Mahogany Brand hires Alexis Kerr as VP, Happy Money taps Sadira Furlow as CMO and more.

Minnesota Vikings Hire Martin Nance As Chief Marketing Officer

The Vikings named its former receiver, Martin Nance, as the team’s executive vice president and CMO.

Nance most recently served as senior director of marketing and sports intelligence at Gatorade.

Spin Media Taps Mark Stroman As Chief Marketing Officer

Spin Media has named Mark Stroman as its new CMO.

Stroman joins from McGhee Entertainment, where he spent over 11 years as senior vice president of marketing and sales.

Hallmark Cards Appoints Alexis Kerr As Vice President Of Mahogany Brand

Hallmark Cards, Inc. has named Alexis Kerr as VP of the Hallmark Mahogany Brand, the company’s greeting card line that celebrates black cultures.

Previously, Kerr served as head of multicultural marketing at Cadillac.

Happy Money Hires Sadira Furlow As Chief Marketing Officer

Happy Money has tapped Sadira Furlow as its new CMO.

Furlow joins Happy Money from PepsiCo, where she was VP of marketing for Frito-Lay.

Snapchat Appoints Doug Frisbie As Vice President Of Business Marketing

Snapchat has named Doug Frisbee as its new VP of business marketing.

Frisbee most recently served as the head of business marketing for North America at Facebook.

Forbes Announces Its Third Annual ‘CMO Next’ List

Forbes’ third annual CMO Next List spotlights marketing leaders who are revolutionizing and redefining their role, their business and the marketing industry.

Distinguished picks include Melissa Grady, CMO, Cadillac; Jessie Becker, SVP of Marketing, Impossible Foods; Tesa Aragones, CMO, Discord; Everette Taylor, CMO, Artsy; and Nick Tran, Head of Global Marketing, TikTok.

Padres Tap Chris Connolly As Senior Vice President Of Marketing

The San Diego Padres has hired Chris Connolly as the team’s SVP of marketing.

Connolly joins from Disney, where he led consumer marketing for the Disneyland Resort.

Gatorade Taps Kalen Thornton As Chief Marketing Officer

Kalen Thornton, former vice president of Nike men’s brand North America, has joined Gatorade as the company’s new CMO.

Thornton worked at Nike for the last decade. He replaces Andrew Hartshorn, who exited Gatorade last year.

Goodwill Hires Onney Crawley As Chief Marketing Officer

Goodwill has announced the appointment of Onney Crawley to CMO.

Crawley joins Goodwill from Serta Simmons Bedding, where she worked for six years, most recently as marketing vice president. Prior to Serta, Crawley was marketing director of Sears’ Craftsman brand.

How Top Retail Brands Adapted In The Pandemic

According to Interbrand’s “Best Global Brands 2020: Provide in the Decade of Possibility,” strong brands became stronger as a result of COVID-19, with the top three brands alone—Apple, Amazon and Microsoft—seeing an average increase in value of 50 percent. The aggregate value of the 100 best global brands grew by nine percent as their total brand value exceeded $2 trillion.

Interbrand’s latest research provides an in-depth look at how retail brands in particular have adapted and thrived in 2020. Top players in Interbrand’s retail ranking include: Coca-Cola, Nike, Ikea, Pepsi, Zara, Starbucks, eBay, Adidas, Johnnie Walker and Lego, to name a few.

While the pandemic accelerated digital adoption and consumer shifts to online commerce channels, it’s clear this shift was well underway before. In 2019, 9,500 retail stores closed in the US, up 64 percent from the 5,844 closures in 2018, according to Coresight Research. Estimates for 2020 show up to 25,000 businesses shuttering.

The report notes that in the past two decades, ecommerce has risen to 16.1 percent of total retail sales in the US, according to the latest data from the US Department of Commerce. As COVID-19 created a new precedent for online shopping, in just the past year ecommerce sales grew 44.5 percent—outperforming the typical growth rate of 15-17 percent seen in previous years.

Amazon, which Interbrand includes in the technology category, accounts for 38 percent of the US ecommerce market. The keys to its success include its 150 million Prime subscribers, its use of more than 200,000 robots and relentless hiring, with a 50 percent growth rate in employees year-over-year. What’s more, Amazon’s artificial intelligence-driven product recommendation engine is reported to generate as much as 35 percent of the company’s revenue.

“We’re grateful for the trust customers put in us, but we often say: “it’s always Day One.” And the reason we do that is that we recognize that customers can get dissatisfied quickly – yesterday’s invention becomes today’s new normal . . .,” said Neil Lindsay, vice president of Prime and marketing for Amazon Consumer Business.

With 50 years of supply chain dominance and over 11,000 stores in 27 countries, Walmart, too, has proved to be a major force in retail. Though Interbrand’s research estimates Amazon will eclipse Walmart’s revenue by 2024.

To address the thinking that browsing in person is a thing of the past, Walmart is redesigning its store to include more open space, larger signage and contactless payments. Where Walmart has the most work to do, the report notes, is getting consumers to perceive it as an internet retailer too. Interbrand’s research shows that Walmart hasn’t successfully translated its offline grocery credibility into the online space.  

“As companies like Walmart, Google and Amazon increasingly start to play in different sandboxes, the important point will be how they bring a version of themselves into that environment in a way that remains authentic to them, but which meets and ideally surpasses the right consumer drivers for that space,” said Christina Stahlkopf, associate director of research and analytics at C Space.

A major pandemic takeaway for Starbucks is that it needs to optimize its in-store experiences by merging various store formats, including pickup, curbside and drive through, with its traditional brick-and-mortar stores. It’s already in a good position to do so, as the report notes that before the crisis, around 80 percent of the company’s transactions in US stores were on-the-go purchases.

At Diageo-owned Johnnie Walker, the goal was to support the wider industry, a purpose that inspired its creation of Raising the Bar, a global program that provides targeted support to help pay for the equipment needed for pubs and bars to reopen. To reach consumers stuck at home, the brand also launched new initiatives like Johnnie Walker ‘Kitchen Sink Drinks,’ inviting fans to submit ingredients they had at home to its bartenders. Sustainability has also been top-of-mind for the brand. In 2020, all the plastic in its giftpacks were made from 100 percent recycled plastic.

According to Christian Purser, chief executive officer of Interbrand London, the new retail landscape will require brands to create ultra-connected, local experiences, provide seamless omnichannel experiences and live up to their ethics and values.

For Interbrand’s full list of best global brands across all categories, click here.