October 31, 2019

Carol Cone Named to Holmes Report’s Innovator 25 List

Carol Cone is recognized as one of 25 communications innovators for her career-long commitment to linking business and social issues.

(NEW YORK, NY, October 31, 2019) Carol Cone, CEO, Carol Cone ON PURPOSE, was named one of the Holmes Report’s top marketing and communications innovators for 2019. Carol was nominated for her career-long contribution to establishing and breaking boundaries in social impact and purpose. 

The Holmes Report commented on Cone’s background as the rationale for her selection: “Long before mission-driven work became mainstream, there was Carol Cone. Her first effort dates back to the early 1980s, when she made Rockport shoes the center of the walking for exercise movement. In the decades since, Cone has stayed true to her own purpose: educating, inspiring and accelerating social purpose programs and impacts for organizations, brands and nonprofits worldwide. Her signature work includes the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, Reebok Human Rights Awards, American Heart Go Red for Women, American Lung Association Lung Force, PNC Grow Up Great, Microsoft YouthSpark, The Vaseline Healing Project and My Special Aflac Duck — and she doesn’t let up. Cone adamantly believes that, particularly today, companies and brands need to think beyond the bottom line, and continues to focus on furthering clients’ business and societal goals through breakthrough initiatives with lasting impact. Cone’s signature programs have raised more than $3 billion for an array of social causes.”

The Holmes Report’s Innovator 25 honors communications industry leaders who have creatively disrupted traditional marketing and communications to maximize ROI and social impact. Past honorees range from the Parkland shooting survivors to practitioners reinventing the workplace in their firms and for clients.  

“I’m honored to join such an impressive group of professionals who are creating such disruptive and, innovative ideas with deep impact,” Cone said. “The Holmes Report has long been a trusted industry publication, and its Innovator 25 list is an important barometer of how the practice of communications—and purpose—is changing. I am hopeful that my inclusion on the Innovator 25 is indicative of the rising impact of purpose as core business strategy.” 

Cone saw the power of linking business and social issues in the early 80s, starting with Rockport and the walking movement, and has been relentlessly advancing the field of CSR and social impact movements since. Then and now, she firmly believed that disruptive ideas emanate from deep insights that have the ability to create new markets, inspire loyalty, and get the marketplace response: “I wish I had done that!”

Carol continues to refine her model–developed over nearly 30 years of working with some of the world’s largest companies and brands — to help organizations discover, develop, embed, and execute their authentic social purpose. She also developed the first research in the field–the 1993 Cone/Roper Report–and has spearheaded dozens of major studies since, including new cutting-edge research exploring the link between B2B companies and purpose.

Her current firm, Carol Cone ON PURPOSE (CCOP), is the third venture in a successful and highly entrepreneurial career. CCOP’s recent work with the Aflac Childhood Cancer Campaign resulted in the creation of My Special Aflac Duck, a robot companion that features naturalistic movements and joyful play to help distract and comfort children coping with cancer. My Special Aflac Duck took home two Cannes Lions awards this summer for “pushing the boundaries of digital innovation.”

“I never set out to create an industry,” Carol said, “I followed my gut and intuition that you have to matter to people. The challenges that we have in our world are big and small. Global and local. I’ve always looked for the next company and brand to partner with to make an impact. Being innovative is in my DNA. And being a third-generation entrepreneur constantly pushes me forward to do more to scale authentic social purpose.” 

Cone also launched the world’s largest collective of purpose-at-the-center firms, the Purpose Collaborative, in 2015. With 40 agencies, consultancies, and production firms around the world, the Purpose Collaborative allows Carol to build bespoke teams based on the precise needs of each CCOP client. Previously, Carol founded the world’s first and largest social impact agency, Cone Inc., in 1980, and led the firm until 2010. She then chaired Edelman’s Business + Social Purpose practice from 2012-2015, before founding CCOP. 

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