CMO 100

2021 CMO 100 Index Roundtable Takeaways

By Business & Finance
01 June 2021

The 2021 CMO 100 Index was launched at a special virtual Roundtable, in association with Xtremepush. The event featured a keynote address from Mark Schaefer, international social media and marketing guru and a keynote from Tommy Kearns, CEO, Xtremepush.

That was followed by a roundtable on the theme Digital Acceleration: Technology has changed our minds — now it’s time for brands to catch up, which focused on topics such as digital acceleration, data privacy, personalisation of marketing strategies, multi channel engagement, amongst others. 

Moderator Rob Pryce, Chief Revenue Officer, Xtremepush was joined by some of Ireland’s leading marketing professionals including Michelle Spillane, Marketing & Brand Director, Paddy Power, Mark Brennan, Head of Marketing, AIB, and Paul Dervan, CMO, National Lottery.

Featured Speakers

Tommy Kearns, CEO, Xtremepush

Tommy Kearns is a vastly experienced commercial leader with over 20 years’ experience and expertise working in the technology, multichannel marketing and mobile app spaces across Ireland, the UK, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. He is CEO and co-founder of Xtremepush, the leading customer engagement, data and personalisation platform with a global portfolio of enterprise clients including LiveScore, Oddschecker, 888 Holdings, Pollard Banknote, Rush Street Interactive, Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Bank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Avatrade, Wirecard, Groupe Dynamite and RTE (national broadcaster of Ireland). He is also a co-founder of iMobile, a successful mobile app development company.

Tommy spoke about the extraordinary changes that have taken place in the digital sphere, noting:

“When we think about digital change, I’m sure, we would all agree, that the speed of change in digital marketing has been unprecedented, especially in the last 12 to 14 months”.

He also shared advice with marketing leaders, saying, “The single most important thing you can do right now as a marketing leader within your own organisation is to build out a customer engagement strategy based on openly acquired first party data”.

Mark Schaefer, international marketing expert

Mark Schaefer is a marketing strategy consultant, keynote speaker, college educator, and the author of nine books including Marketing Rebellion and Cumulative Advantage. In his keynote, he shared his theory on acceleration: “Acceleration today is, I think, one of the greatest business challenges and the obstacle to acceleration in my mind is it really isn’t an idea, it’s not really personal and it’s not even founded”. 

He spoke about marketing’s personalisation: “Personalisation, in some way, has become impersonal […] and I think today that the most personal company, the most human company, will win”. Mark noted the importance of creating emotional connections, saying: “And today, with so much suffering in the world, I think we have an opportunity to not just create an emotional connection but to become legendary.


Michelle Spillane, Marketing & Brand Director, Paddy Power

Michelle joined Paddy Power Betfair in January 2018 with an impressive resume to her name. She most recently served as Director RTE Global & Marketing from 2014, after spending two years as CMO for Microsoft Ireland. She was Head of Marketing at Bank of Ireland from 2006-2012 and Marketing Director for ITV Worldwide in London from 2003-2006

She shared her experience with digital acceleration at Paddy Power:  “First it was very much about pivoting really quickly as a brand and leading into strengths that we have in our brand and that are unique to us, and one of those was our entertainment pillar”.

She also spoke about how teams can adapt quickly, saying: “The future wasn’t certain for any of us, we are all at home and nobody was set up for this, in terms of equipment from home, from practices of working from home and tech from home”.

Michelle said the changing customer habits dictated some of their strategy. She noted: “We had to pivot really quickly around our media mix and where we were going to access those consumers, what was the change in their media habitat consumption”. It was also important to measure the marketing function within the company. She noted, “We measure everything and measurement is hugely important in our business. We have an MMM, a mix modelling measurement system which looks at our media planning”. Michelle said the focus on the next 12 months will be accelerating the company’s growth.

Paul Dervan, CMO, National Lottery

Paul Dervan is the CMO of The National Lottery in Ireland and author of “Run with Foxes: Make better marketing decisions”. Prior to The National Lottery, Paul was the Global Brand Director at Indeed, the world’s largest and fastest growing job site, with over 250 million visitors every month. There, he was tasked with growing the brand in multiple markets, managing a global team of 80 people, and was responsible for investment of hundreds of millions of advertising dollars. He also started a Marketing Campaign Lab, where he created and tested hundreds of marketing experiments in America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Before that, Paul was with PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker brand, as Creative Director for their Full Tilt brand. He was responsible for repositioning and relaunching the brand as part of their brand portfolio, targeting new mobile audiences. 

Paul spoke about the past year at the National Lottery: “

The two things that we tried to do is we leaned into some behaviours that we set up, when we started, for how we worked […] one of our behaviours is hard on the work, easy on each other, so the benchmark for what we do has to be very high and we expect it to be high and we push ourselves. And easy on each other because personally I think it’s much more difficult to do good work when all is on video, like the chance of misunderstandings is high”.

Paul said their company’s approach to adaption was to bring in experts: “We have kind of an approach which is bringing in experts from around the world to up-skill the team and that was a lot cheaper to do […] so that was an advantage”. He also spoke about the importance of basing strategy in reality, saying: “I think it’s important that we are realistic in what people will actually do versus what we want them to do”.

In terms of measuring marketing function, he noted, “We measure attention, passive attention, act of attention, how much attention our ads are getting […] how good is our advertising in commanding, ideally active attention, but even passive attention is so valuable”.

Paul said the focus on the next 12 months will be getting close to the customers. 

Mark Brennan, Head of Marketing, AIB

Mark is a leading marketing and business leader with over 15 years global marketing experience, successfully building brands and driving commercial success across multiple industry sectors and organisations including AIB, EBS, Guinness, Volkswagen and L’Oreal. Mark worked in London for 10 years in some of the biggest Global Advertising Agencies such as DDB and Adam&Eve before joining AIB in late 2013. Following a three year tenure as Head of Digital Marketing & Innovation at AIB, Mark was appointed Head of Marketing, with responsibility for all marketing activity across sponsorship, AIB Brand & EBS mortgages.

Mark shared his experience of the last 12-14 months at AIB Ireland: “A huge amount of work spent last year working with the team right across the path from health, wellness, trying to maintain connectedness”.

He noted that people can adapt at a different pace, saying ‘We were all in the same storm but we weren’t on the same boat” and said that it was imperative to be as connected as possible, “otherwise you will show up and irritate them”.

Mark also touched on the issue of measuring marketing function but noted, “Measurement is absolutely key but it’s nothing without effectiveness”. He said the focus on the next 12 months will be ‘experience’. 


Rob Pryce, Chief Revenue Officer, Xtremepush

Rob Pryce is a senior business leader with over 20 years’ worth of sales, commercial and operational experience in the technology and digital sectors. He has held senior positions at global companies like Microsoft, where he served as European lead for Sales Strategy and Brand, and Quantcast, where he established the EMEA Account Management and Customer Success teams. Prior to joining Xtremepush, he held CRO positions at both Social Talent and Bionic. He was also the founder of Diffiniti Ireland, building it up to become the country’s largest full-service digital agency. Rob is passionate about digital transformation, advocating for customer-centric experiences that drive revenue and foster brand loyalty.