Never had it been so fun for publishers to pronounce the demise of a position until speculation spread concerning the probable "death" of the CMO. I am sure many remember reading Dominique Turpin's article published by Forbes in which the writer describes CMOs as "increasingly powerless and peripheral," especially within companies that fail to put the customer first, and demands that organizations dump the CMO title in favor of a new title -- CCO (chief customer officer). Though "The CMO is dead" is an attention-grabbing title, it's a bit misleading. The CMO is not dead; the position is simply regressing to its original purpose -- customer engagement. The CMO has always been responsible for an organization's marketing activities, and objective number one of marketing is to communicate the value of a product to customers.
Predicting the CMO's "death" was likely encouraged by the disturbingly short tenure of those holding the position. In 2006, according to Ad Age, the average CMO tenure was a troubling 23 months. A position with a lifespan fewer than two years would surely be the first on the chopping block, as those within the role left unsatisfied or were fired by unsatisfied CEOs. However, oft-cited figures from 2013 assert that CMOs are staying in the job longer -- 45 months on average. Consequently, one must ask, "Why has the CMO's tenure nearly doubled?"
It's not an easy question to answer, but part of it surely results from more CMOs reaching what Turpin urged in 2012: customer-centricity. The combination of new technology solutions, hard data, and numerous channels of engagement has led to much deeper levels of customer intimacy. And, with an increased ability to measure the outcomes of marketing activities, CMOs are demonstrating their value like never before.
As the value of the CMO continues to grow, brands that need a complete turnaround or those struggling to build meaningful consumer relationships will increasingly look to this position. In fact, a number of organizations have made CMO hires during problematic times. Here are the companies that have counted on (or are currently relying on) CMOs for serious change during difficult times.