CMO Tenure Increases Despite Brand Marketing Complexities

According to a recent article in Forbes highlighting the results of a study by executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart, CMO tenure has continued its upward trajectory, now sitting at an average of 45 months. This reflects a gain of two months from the year before, “further retiring the storied 23-month hold.”  CMOs for a variety of reasons are finding themselves in their posts longer than in years past – though still not as long as CIOs or CEOs, who average five and seven years, respectively.

The article goes on to discuss the reasons why for the climb upward including game-changing technologies, data and “modern” marketing strategies, including digital, mobile and social. All have aided CMOs in their quest for recognition in the C-suite as business growth drivers, as well as economic shifts since the low tenure levels from 2004-2008.

Data for this ninth annual CMO tenure study was based on CMO tenure at the top 100 advertised brands. And despite the increase in tenure, having the responsibility for a brand or group of brands is still tenuous and has certainly become more complex. Now more than ever, brands are highly visible – everything a marketer does for, with, or to a brand, absolutely everything, leaves a footprint.

A brand is still about the image of the product in its marketplace. Some people distinguish the psychological aspect of a brand from the experiential aspect. The experiential aspect consists of the sum of all points of contact with the brand and is known as the brand experience. The psychological aspect, sometimes referred to as the brand image, is a symbolic formulation created within the minds of people and consists of information and expectations associated with a product or service. Today, the experiential aspect of a brand has exploded.

Recently there’s been a lot of chatter about social media marketing perhaps not pulling its weight in terms of business results. In fact, a recent study from Coca-Cola suggested that social does not generate sales lift (many others would disagree). And while Coca-Cola acknowledged that this is true taken in isolation, they also commented in a recent article in Advertising Age, that “today’s progressive marketers know better.”

Coca-Cola pointed to the combination of owned, earned, shared and paid media connections – with social playing a crucial role at the heart of activations – that creates “marketplace impact, consumer engagement, brand love and brand value.”

In the past, CMOs who failed to increase brand value with a strong ROI faced that risk of having only a 23-month tenure. While there are many ways to measure the contributions and synergy of communications vehicles and integrated programs, it’s good to see a major marketer like Coca-Cola look at the big picture in terms of measurement and not isolate any one metric. Especially when no single medium is as strong as the combination of media.

And for the CMO, sometimes it has its rewards – with the longer CMO tenure has come the expansion of the title, reflecting broader responsibilities. One example cited in the Forbes article? Joe Tripodi, Coca-Cola’s CMO holds the title of executive VP and chief marketing and commercial officer. And he’s been in this role since 2007, about 70 months.

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Posted in Branding

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