The 58-year-old executive may be a surprising choice for the number one slot in the Power Book list, but in a constantly changing industry, it is increasingly difficult to define what makes a powerful PR heavyweight.
It is Polman’s budgetary power, strategic influence and agenda setting that secured him the Power Book top spot.
READ MORE: click here for the full Power Book list
In the City sector top five, Finsbury co-founder Roland Rudd pipped Brunswick founder Sir Alan Parker to the post. The list also featured John Waples, senior MD and UK head of strategic comms at FTI Consulting, Maitland CEO Neil Bennett and Tulchan Communications founder Andrew Grant.
Top of the corporate list was another Unilever contender, senior vice-president of global comms, Sue Garrard. She was up against a strong list, including Barclays corporate comms MD Stephen Doherty and Diageo corporate relations director Charlotte Lambkin, who came second and third respectively.
With the election looming, number one on the politics and public affairs list was the formidable partnership of CITIF co-founder Lynton Crosby and director of comms at 10 Downing Street Craig Oliver.
The Tech list recognised the mighty powers of Microsoft and Google, with Microsoft director of comms Nicola Taylor at number one and Google’s director of comms and PA, Peter Barron, coming a close second.
In Health, director of comms for Department of Health, Sam Lister, was deemed a worthy winner as he commands a budget and has responsibilities that exceed those of the biggest multinationals in terms of their impact in the UK.
Matthew Freud, head of Freuds, was crowned king of consumer thanks to his company’s strong roster of clients. But Matt Neale, president of international at Golin, was a close second.
Legendary entertainment PR, Alan Edwards, scooped the top spot for celebrity and entertainment, beating out tough competition from DawBell founders, Stuart Bell and Richard Dawes.
It was a close call between BBC’s director of comms John Shield and News UK’s Guto Harri, but Shield just had the edge and was deemed number one in media PR.
Click here to see the full Power Book list.