- The average time spent by chief marketing officers (CMOs) in their jobs fell by a month last year, according to new research from exec search firm Spencer Stuart that was provided to Marketing Dive. At 100 of the top U.S. ad spenders, average tenure was 43 months. In 2017, it was 44.
- The median tenure was 27.5 months in 2018, down from 31 months the year before. Only 34 of the CMOs in the study were women, but that's up from the 28 in 2017. Only nine are minorities, down from 11 in 2017.
- Last year also saw an increase in the number of CMOs serving in that role for the first time, at 89% compared to 57% in 2017. Additionally, 13 CMOs were internally promoted, up from 10 in the previous year.
The CMO is arguably the most rapidly evolving C-suite executive post, and perhaps one of the most challenging. Aside from overseeing all branding, marketing and advertising activity, including much or all of the related tech, many brands now also expect the CMO to bear key responsibility for customer experience, personalization and company revenues. This could one reason why the average tenure for CMOs dropped in 2018 while CEOs tend to have longer tenures, which averaged 5 years in 2017. However, compared to 15 years ago, CMO tenures are up, with Spencer Stuart reporting that the average in 2004 was 23.6 months.
As one illustration of the many hats worn by modern marketing chiefs, last month Calvin Klein's CMO Marie Gulin-Merle was made chief digital officer of parent company PVH — and remained Calvin Klein CMO as well.
Also last month, the CMO of Lyft left after just 8 months on the job, and the brand then turned her position into two jobs, VP of marketing operations and VP of brand. Some major companies, such as Coca-Cola, have dropped the CMO role entirely, replacing it with chief growth officer.
The Spencer Stuart numbers confirm that there is still much the industry must do on the diversity front. They also show that companies are investing in developing marketing leaders internally, which could present an opportunity to fill the pipeline for next-generation leaders with minorities, per the report.
One trend not highlighted in the numbers but called out by Spencer Stuart is a number of instances where marketers are taking on roles outside of the marketing organization. One example is Raj Subramaniam, who was recently named president and COO of FedEx Corp. He joins Jeff Jones, president and CEO at H&R Block and Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta, in making such a transition.
A report released last December by sales intelligence provider Winmo found similar results to the Spencer Stuart research, pegging average CMO tenure last year at 43 months. The Winmo study also found that the longer job spans are in traditional industries like financial services and travel, while newer segments — like digital-first companies — had faster turnover.