Will CMO Role Die | Coke’s Crypt

CMO’s have the shortest lifespan of any C-Suite officer, and Coke’s move to eliminate the CMO role entirely replacing it with “Chief Growth Officer” may be a sign of the times.

It created the CMO role in 1993, and killed it in 2017. Enter the birth of the CGO.

Former McKinsey partner and Kimberly-Clark marketer Thomas Barta said, “as long as marketers continue to position themselves as experts in advertising, brand positioning, millennials and the latest digital fads – instead of being growth drivers – we’ll see more CMO positions disappear,” in a 2017 MarketingWeek article.

Managing Partner of Revenue Performance Group’s Matt Benelli says, “whether it’s CGO or CMO, consistent behaviors and activities that drive the desired KPI’s and results prevent a position from being eliminated.  The great ones have a disciplined approach to measuring and managing the daily and weekly activities that drive the results so they can tweak their plan along the way.”

Coke’s CEO took it upon himself to send a strong signal by forever eliminating the CMO role. Marketing is not about buying media, creating ads, and making people feel fuzzy–it’s about achieving growth. It’s about accountable numbers that go up and to the right.

Pillars of a CGO

  1. Metrics: almost anything can be measured today from creative to customers
  2. Innovation: not just in advertising, but in everything
  3. Accountability: Attribution can discern “base” from “marketing incremental”
  4. Professional Management: CGO’s look more like White House Chief of Staff John Kelly

If outside sales, inside sales, or account management exists in a company, those functions will likely report into a CGO. No longer will a CGO have expertise in one area and weakness in three: those roles of expertise will exist much like on a football team: offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special teams coach, and within those…quarterback coach, wide receiver coach, etc.

“Johnson & Johnson CMO Alison Lewis called Coke’s decision symbolic,” said C3 Metrics advertising attribution measurement CEO Mark Hughes. “but the symbolism is strong…when you eliminate a role entirely versus just firing and replacing the CMO, it’s an indicator that Coke sees the role of the past 24 years not working.”

If you’re a CMO: is your number up?