Thomas Barta: What’s the point of the CMO?


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I guess it’s a new-year thing, but recently I thought about a question I’ve been toying with for a long time. Is the chief marketing officer role a good idea? Or should we accept the reality in many firms, get rid of the title and pick a term that reflects what most marketing executives are actually doing: communications?

Strong support exists for either route. I’m writing this column to invite your comments &- because I’m genuinely unsure.

To structure the debate, I’ve dug out the facts that support getting rid of the CMO aspiration and those that lead to the opposite conclusion &- keeping the title and pushing for more CMO influence. I’ve spent the last couple of years fighting for the latter, but I’m open to a challenge.

Let’s start with the facts for why we should ditch the CMO.

Most CMOs are mainly in charge of communications

Not long ago, I asked 1,232 CMOs from 74 countries what they were actually responsible for (as part of my ’12 Powers of a Marketing Leader’ research with Patrick Barwise). The numbers won’t surprise you: 77% of CMOs said communications. Then came brand development (whatever that means) on 63%; product development on 56%; and sales promotion

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