CMOs must be experts in marketing and growth alike

For today’s chief marketing officer (CMO), the environment that we’re working against, competing in and adapting to is one of high complexity and rapid evolution

In the last decade, the landscape has changed dramatically and it continues to evolve. Look back ten years and things were relatively simple. It was more linear with a media model encompassing television, radio and print. We all knew the rules of the game.

Then digital came along with its promises of efficiency and productivity. Mass marketing and consumer targeting became possible, and the complexities of the unchartered territories of social media and mobile technology were layered on to this new world. I applaud all of these evolutions. The level of change has been dramatically positive for the marketing and communications ecosystem. But the challenge for CMOs, to be truly considered masters of their environment, is mastering all of these rapidly evolving disciplines.

The biggest challenge facing CMOs, however, is their ability to generate business and brand growth

The biggest challenge facing CMOs, however, is their ability to generate business and brand growth. In the United States, growth levels are inadequate. In 2017, 42 per cent of Fortune 500 companies had falling revenues and 53 per cent had declining after-tax profits. So I conclude that as marketers we’re not succeeding at the level we should be. Superb business performance is what chief executives and shareholders expect. This can only happen through the collaborative effort of advertisers, media companies, agencies, consultancies, researchers and other partners.

Growth is the backbone of the marketing industry

The backbone of our industry is to generate growth so we can all succeed. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) suggests that CMOs must also be their company’s growth champion. That’s why the ANA has joined forces with the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to launch the CMO Growth Council.

The council will provide an important platform for marketing leaders from around the world to discuss, collaborate and take action. Through the council, we will support CMOs to focus, unify and exercise their leadership to support a common agenda for driving worldwide business growth, a goal that we’ve been pursuing in the US through the ANA’s CMO Masters Circle since its inception in 2016. The first Growth Council meeting will take place at the next Cannes Lions Festival this June, in partnership with the CMO Masters Circle.

businessman walking up concrete stairs business growth

Our goal is to create a transformative, strategically aligned powerhouse that brings lasting impact. Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer for the largest marketer in the world, Procter & Gamble, is a huge proponent of this new alliance and will act as the council’s chair. Cannes Lions and the ANA put out a call to arms earlier this year and as a result 25 global chief marketing officers came on board and will join Marc to form this inaugural council.

Creative excellence key to the marketing craft

The craft of marketing needs always to be enhanced by creative excellence. I do not believe that marketers have yet embraced creativity to its fullest because of the challenging and evolving environment they compete in. The current landscape is forcing CMOs to become complete businesspeople. Not just expert marketers, they now need to be solid and expert growth champions. It’s about mastering measurement and accountability; it’s about mastering the digital media supply chain; and it’s about mastering talent and diversity, from gender equality to multiculturalism.

The current landscape is forcing CMOs to become complete businesspeople

Creative excellence is the heart and soul of Cannes Lions, and it also lies at the heart of what every marketer should represent. We see great synergy between creative excellence and business growth and for nearly two decades the world’s biggest marketers have used the festival as an opportunity to understand what world-class creative looks like. The CMO Growth Council is underpinned by the belief that creativity is an absolute requirement if marketers are going to be able to fully realise long-term growth for brands and businesses.