Why the chief marketing officer title is seeing a resurgence

Even as many organizations continue to swap out their chief marketing officers for more all-encompassing chief growth officers, chief brand officers and chief commercial officers, some at the forefront of this trend are discovering they can't function without a CMO.

Coca-Cola, for example, was among the first major organizations to eliminate the CMO from its executive team, in 2017. This move was echoed by industry giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Uber and Lyft, and followed by research showing that not only do just 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have CMOs on staff, but those remaining CMOs only stay in office for an average of 43 months.

This week, however, Coca-Cola announced its chief growth officer will retire in 2020 and will be replaced with a CMO, The Wall Street Journal reports.

At the time, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey reportedly said on an earnings call, "There's a much greater intersection and integration of how to engage with consumers and shoppers. … And therefore, bringing together in one group the classical marketing pieces with a customer piece with a commercial piece and with the strategy, underpinned with the digital engagement, is what's going to allow us to more seamlessly operate in this new environment."

With this week's announcement, however, Mr. Quincey said in a staff memo that in order to accelerate the company's vision, it needed a renewed focus on marketing, per WSJ.

"That's kind of the trap of some of these proxy roles sometimes," Keith Johnston, vice president and research director at Forrester Research, told WSJ. "If you've aligned budgets and decisions, you're in a pretty good place, but you can't have someone who doesn't really understand marketing. You have to emphasize the customer relationship because that's how brands are built now, but you can't dismiss the fact that brand plays a role."

More articles on digital marketing:
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5 habits of highly successful healthcare marketers from Mount Sinai, Banner & more
How Humana's high-tech outreach strategy got members to engage with their health

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