Dozens of Brands Have Changed CMOs in 2018

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Oct 30, 2018 · 2 min read

Spencer Stuart, an executive search and leadership consulting firm, calls 2018 “The Year of the CMO Shuffle.”

The year has been extraordinary for CMOs, the group says, and not in a good way.

“An usually high number of well-known brands that we track across a number of key industries have undergone a change in the top marketing role this year,” says a Spencer Stuart blog post.

Greg Welch, global leader for the consumer goods and services practice at Spencer Stuart, says that the reasons why CMOs are moving varies by company, but the most popular answer he hears is that CEOs want more growth. These CEOs now have mandates that require marketing leaders who drive sales; creative ads aren’t enough anymore, the CEOs want sales.

“This seems to be more and more prevalent,” Welch says via email. “And as for why they leave, it is a mixed bag. Many of the companies listed on our chart had change because they initiated the change, but many of them are then linked.”

One example Welch gives is Potbelly recruiting Papa John’s CMO, which then forced Papa John’s to hire a new CMO.

Spencer Stewart’s websites gave some other reasons why CMOs may be leaving en masse this year, including:

  • Poor CEO-CMO alignment.
  • Inflated expectations for CMOs.
  • No clearly defined priorities for CMOs.
  • Little recognition of the challenges CMOs face.
  • Industry consolidation.

The company says that there’s now a “new breed” of disruptive CMOs emerging who are creative and compelling communicators committed to learning and team-building.

“Now more than ever, marketing leadership needs to band together and solve this (hopefully) short-term dilemma,” the post says.

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