- Unilever CMO Keith Weed topped the list of Forbes' 2018 World’s Most Influential CMOs Report, created in partnership with Sprinklr and LinkedIn. Weed also won the recognition last year. GE's Linda Boff and Leslie Berland of Twitter were ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, per findings made available to Marketing Dive.
- The top 50 CMOs across different industries were selected based on their personal influence on brand awareness. The report defined influence as how the CMO's actions and words impacted their brand's motivation, performance, perception and the marketing and advertising industry broadly.
- Other CMOs in the top 10 include HP's Antonio Lucio, Raja Rajamannar of MasterCard, Ann Lewnes of Adobe, Phil Schiller of Apple, Dean Evans of Huyndai, Kristin Lemkau of JP Morgan Chase and Marc Mathieu of Samsung.
Unilever's Weed again winning the top CMO spot in Forbes' rankings signals that the brand's various initiatives, including improving transparency in digital advertising and diversity across the industry, are resonating with consumers and also helping to drive business results.
The full report specifically called out Weed's keynote address at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Annual Leadership Meeting this year, where he criticized Facebook and Google — the two largest digital ad platforms in the world — for their roles in spreading divisive messages and not doing more to protect brands. At the same time, the marketer reaffirmed his commitment to collaborating more closely with these companies to address the issues brought up in his speech.
Beyond the rankings, however, the report highlights the evolving role of CMOs beyond orchestrating marketing campaigns to instead respond to consumers' evolving needs by being more data-centric, adapting to digital disruption and becoming experts on industry trends. Some have suggested that CMO roles are becoming outdated, and that hybrid titles that incorporate stronger technology expertise will become more common. The researcher Forrester last year predicted that some brands may replace CMOs with chief growth officers as they look to wring the most out of their advertising dollars.
Developing a better, more personalized customer experience (CX) is also increasingly at the forefront of CMOs' strategies, but it's an area where many U.S. brands fall short (Unilever is based in the U.K.). Forrester's U.S. 2018 Customer Experience Index shows that U.S. brands remain "mediocre" when it comes to the quality of their CX. No brand has topped the rankings and continued to improve, according to Forrester, which indicates a lack of CX leadership among U.S. companies.