New and outgoing CEOs take top spots


-       Ulf Schneider (Fresenius) ranks first, followed by Herbert Hainer (Adidas) and Bill McDermott (SAP)

-       Achievements of outgoing CEOs recognised, new CEOs given vote of confidence

-       UNICEPTA: “CEO leadership in digitalisation rewarded with positive image.”

UNICEPTA’s CEO Ranking on the media image enjoyed by the CEOs of the 30 Dax-listed companies reveals that outgoing CEOs who delivered successful figures ahead of their departure and new CEOs and their past success have been afforded a lot of attention. Digitalisation and all of its various facets represent promising opportunities for CEO positioning.

The CEO Ranking is based on data from around 19,000 reports published in Germany’s leading media in the first half of the year, with UNICEPTA Medienanalyse GmbH drawing on the findings of its “DAX Benchmark” to compile the ranking. With the help of this benchmark, the monitoring, analysis and communications specialist continuously monitors the tonality of reporting on all Dax-listed companies and their CEOs.

Ulf Schneider, Fresenius CEO until 30 June, tops the ranking for the first half of the year (Q1: 3rd), with the leading media outlets praising the growth in revenues, profits and staffing numbers under his stewardship.

Herbert Hainer (Adidas) was able to substantially boost his image, with him now ranking second (Q1: 9th). Hainer, who is set to be succeeded by Kasper Rorsted (former CEO of Henkel, 1st in Q1) in September, attracted a lot of positive feedback for his performance. During his tenure, Hainer achieved the most he could possibly achieve, says Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  

New Henkel CEO Hans Van Bylen impressed the media with his skills in overseeing the acquisition of US firm Sun Products Corp. shortly after taking the reins (new entry at 4th). New Commerzbank CEO Martin Zielke (10th) was also given a vote of confidence by the media.

Allianz CEO Oliver Bäte (from 15th to 7th), who has been at the helm since May 2015, successfully entered unchartered territory, garnering a lot of media attention over his interview with the “Jung & naiv” (Young & naïve) YouTube format. His Munich Re counterpart, Nikolaus von Bomhard, who is set to step down at the end of the year, remains one of the most sought-after media interview partners (unchanged at 8th).


Another group of long-serving CEOs managed to do well in the ranking by presenting themselves as key voices on digitalisation and innovation.

“Primarily CEOs who act as thought-leaders and provide impetus in the digital transformation are interesting from a public-discourse perspective,” says Michael Matern, Managing Partner at UNICEPTA. Amid the current debate on how well companies will tackle future challenges, primarily firms with CEOs who lead by example are seen as pioneers, he says. However, this is a feat not only achieved by new CEOs, but their experienced counterparts as well, Mr Matern points out.

This is illustrated by SAP CEO Bill McDermott (from 2nd to 3rd), who has finger on the pulse of digitalisation and is currently the only CEO of a Dax-listed company who uses a Twitter account. Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche (from 7th to 6th) is attracting attention through his high level of input on the subject of autonomous driving. Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges (from 17th to 9th) frequently appears in reporting thanks to his focus on innovation.


UNICEPTA Medienanalyse GmbH is a leading global provider for monitoring, media analysis, research competence and communication consulting services. Around 670 experts continuously structure the news flow – both around the clock and around the world. UNICEPTA compiles and presents highly relevant information from print and online media, TV, radio and social-media sources. This day-to-day work serves as a platform for the company to provide analysis and research-based advice for issues related to strategic communication.



UNICEPTA Medienanalyse GmbH
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50677 Cologne

Sabrina Ginter
Tel.: +49 (0)221 99 02-364