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A PR Guy Is the Most Liked CEO in Advertising

Who is the most liked CEO in the ad world? It’s a PR executive, Richard Edelman, who handily trounced both Publicis CEO Maurice Levy and WPP’s Chief Executive Martin Sorrell.

Richard Edelman
Richard Edelman Credit: Darryl Estrine

That’s according to Owler, a crowdsourced business insights company that runs a National Likeability Study, conducted by polling its global database of 15 million companies and over 167,000 executives across a wide range of industries, such as artificial intelligence, food and beverage, finance and healthcare.

While hardly scientific –theoretically agency employees could flood the zone in support of their own CEO– the findings are stil interesting. Of the 25 industries Owler surveyed, CEOs in the marketing and creative agencies ranked No. 1 with an average score of 74.2 out of 100. (Owler said in a statement that means that CEOs at marketing and creative shops are very well-liked relative to executives in other industries.)

After Richard Edelman, Mihael Mikek, CEO of Celtra, which calls itself a “creative management platform” came second and “inbound marketing company” Square 2’s CEO Mike Lieberman ranked third.

Frenemies Sorrell and Levy limped in at No. 15 and No. 11, respectively. Interpublic Group also made the list with Weber Shandwick’s Andy Polansky ranking at No. 7 (Michael Roth was nowhere to be seen on the ranking. Likewise, Omnicom Group’s John Wren was MIA.)

While no CEOs scored a perfect 100, Edelman came with an 89.3 score, a whole point ahead of Mikek. Elite SEM, one of Ad Age’s Best Places to Work in 2016 and the gold winner of Ad Age’s Small Agency Culture Award in 2015, made it on the list with CEO Ben Kirshner coming in fourth place.

David Williams of Merkle, which was acquired by Dentsu Aegis last summer, took the No. 5 spot, and Leo Burnett’s Rich Stoddart came in at No. 10.

Rounding out the list of the top 16 most-liked CEOs in the creative and marketing industry: Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti; Inventiv Health’s Michael Bell; Ideo’s Tim Brown, TMP Worldwide’s Michelle Abbey; Tapad’s Are Traasdahl; Time Inc.’s Rich Battista and Chartboost’s Maria Alegre.

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