Celebrating 16 years of marketing transformation with Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes

After a phenomenal 16-year career at Adobe, Ann Lewnes, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Development, is retiring next month. Since Ann shared her decision to retire a few months ago, we have focused on the go-forward strategy to keep Adobe at the forefront of marketing innovation and creative storytelling.

Under Ann’s leadership, Adobe’s world-class marketing organization has played a critical role in the company’s reinvention and its reputation as one of the most respected and beloved global brands. Adobe has been a trailblazer in the marketing industry, creating some of the most inspiring, innovative, and inclusive campaigns while helping set the standard for the shift to data-driven marketing. An early adopter and then evangelist, Ann made a big bet in 2010 to put 75 percent of the company’s marketing budget spend into digital. It was a bold move that helped blaze the path to digital marketing in the industry. During Ann’s tenure, Adobe underwent a seminal business transformation, moving our creative and document software from the desktop to the cloud, while creating and leading the explosive digital marketing category.

I’ve always told Ann that she has an incredible job because she not only champions marketing at Adobe but by virtue of our focus on the chief marketing officer, she dictates how technology can serve global CMOs. Adobe’s marketing team is customer zero, leveraging all of our products—from Creative Cloud for content development, to Experience Cloud for measuring the impact of all marketing activities—and actually marketing and selling our solutions to an increasingly wide spectrum of creators and marketers.

Adobe’s marketing organization has demonstrated the value of bringing together the best of art and science in marketing, proving that marketing can drive the business. From revolutionizing Adobe.com to be one of the most visited corporate sites in the world, to having a team of in-house data scientists building state-of-the-art econometric marketing models, to leveraging trillions of data inputs to predict trends with Adobe Digital Insights which has become the de-facto authority on the digital economy, Adobe’s marketing team has set the bar on how to drive results that matter.

Ann and her team have created some of the industry’s most distinctive and effective campaigns. Through iconic ads like Photoshop’s 25th anniversary spot “Dream On,” Adobe celebrated the creativity that Photoshop has brought to the world. After the acquisition of analytics leader Omniture, which launched our foray into digital marketing, “Marketing is BS” and “Do You Know What Your Marketing is Doing” struck a chord, spotlighting marketers’ frustrations trying to prove the value of marketing to the business. And most recently, the “Express It” campaign for Adobe Express shows how Adobe magic is now accessible to hundreds of millions of users of all skill levels and backgrounds.

Community is at the core of Adobe’s marketing as we consistently co-create and showcase the work of diverse creators in our campaigns. With “Honor Heroes,” a powerful homage to frontline workers during the early days of the pandemic, creators honored their personal heroes with moving portraits. With “Diverse Voices,” Adobe created a platform that supports, elevates and amplifies the work of underrepresented creators – celebrating female, Black, LatinX, AAPI and LGBTQ creators around the world. And through our “Community Challenges,” people around the world have been given the opportunity to develop one-of-a-kind work inspired by creative elements from pop culture icons they admire most—including Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga and Marshmello, as well as blockbuster franchises like Lord of the Rings.

Diverse Voices campaign: Image: Malika Favre, Jordan Moss and Rose Marie Cromwell. Create Waves Image by Kelly Malka.

Adobe has continued to raise the bar for live, virtual and now hybrid experiences. Iconic events like Adobe MAX and Summit have brought together millions of customers—from photographers and filmmakers to marketers to digital technologists—for one-of-a-kind experiences with cutting-edge technology, showstopping production quality, community engagement and inspiring luminary speakers like Ron Howard, Quentin Tarantino, Dave Grohl and Reese Witherspoon.

At Adobe there is a mantra, “It’s not just what you do but how you do it that matters.” Ann has led and lived by that adage. She has been an advocate for change and the development of programs to give female creators the opportunity to share their talents and stories by establishing partnerships like the Sundance Women’s Fellowship.

Since 2020, Ann has also led Adobe’s corporate strategy and development efforts, overseeing the acquisitions of Workfront and Frame.io, and most recently our intent to acquire Figma.

When I hired Ann, I knew Adobe needed a CMO who would champion the brand and creativity, provide the thought leadership to combine the art and science of marketing and help us build an enterprise business that would serve the digital marketer. The company and industry have been incredibly well-served by Ann’s vision and passion. It’s been a joy and privilege to partner with Ann and I am incredibly happy for her as she begins her well-deserved retirement.