When Dunkin' Brands CMO Tony Weisman announced he was stepping down after two years last week, it came as a shock, partially because the executive had just days earlier been championing successes like Dunkin's extensive rebrand. But as unexpected as the development was, it also continued a slew of high-profile marketing chief departures and corporate reshuffles this year that occasionally eliminated the C-suite appointment entirely.
The trend of reworking what defines marketing leadership — and resulting volatility — isn't so much new as accelerated. Coca-Cola did away with its global CMO role to focus on a chief growth officer two years ago. The soft drink giant's switch-up could be called prescient, as marketers in the meantime have only felt mounting pressure to wear more hats related to digital transformation and data, all while showing their creative ideas also improve performance. "Short-termism" — the demand to provide results on a shorter timeline, often with smaller budgets than in the past — has become a common ailment impacting CMOs at the global level, according to the latest annual survey of the position by Dentsu Aegis Network.
"The problem is that the CMO job has become a marketing job, a brand strategy job, a chief digital officer job and an innovation job. It's really hard to juggle all of those," Allen Adamson, co-founder and managing partner at Metaforce, told Marketing Dive.
"If a CMO focuses too much on strategy and long-term innovations, they're not moving the bottom line today. If they focus too much on snazzy promotions, they're not building their brand for tomorrow," he added.
"[Being CMO] has become too big to succeed at and too easy to fail at."
Below, read about nine of the most surprising CMO or equivalent role departures from the past few months and what they say about the rapidly changing expectations and future for marketers: