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Marketing Business Leadership CMO

57% of CEOs believe their CMOs would ‘save their own ass’ before ‘taking a bullet’


By John Glenday | Reporter

June 15, 2022 | 3 min read

A fresh study exploring the performance of chief marketing officers is a source of some optimism with a majority receiving a B-grade, suggesting optimism has returned to brands and marketers as Covid recedes from view.


Are CMOs more likely to want to save their own ass?

The survey gave 55% of chief marketers a ‘B’ grade for their performance, with 16% claiming a coveted ‘A’ grade. At the other end of the spectrum, 6% contrived to attain a lowly ‘D’ score.

Drilling deeper into the data, a clear discrepancy between managing tangible outcomes such as creativity, media and data was observed v intangible metrics such as relationships with fellow executives. The majority of chief marketers earned ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades on the former, but received ‘B’ and ‘C’ grades on the latter.

Compiled by Boathouse, the report draws from a sample of 150 chief executive officers from large US companies, 33% with revenues above $1bn. All respondents were asked to grade their chief marketers on a scale from ‘A’ to ‘F.’

This process saw 65% trust their chief marketers to contribute toward tough decisions, although it was found that 70% of companies do not have a board marketing committee.

Not all is sweetness and light in the boardroom, however, with 57% of chief marketers admitting they would ‘save their ass’ rather than ‘take a bullet’ for the chief executive – perhaps explaining why just 49% of chief marketers can count on the personal trust of their chief executives.

Loyalty to the chief executive pays dividends in more ways than one, with a ‘halo’ effect boosting positive attributes such as listening and inspiring others, jumping by double digits above chief marketers who were less loyal.

The report authors observed: “Despite CMO tenure being at the lowest levels in over a decade, there are several macro and micro signals for optimism in the marketing ecosystem and larger C suite as marketers and brands look to rebound and recover from the last two and a half years.” This is important when taking into account the ever-widening range of issues that chief execs must address including diversity, recruitment and cost-cutting.

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