2019 an Active Year Aboard the CMO Carousel

Round and round she goes. Where she stops, nobody knows. What we do know in the marketing world is that CMOs aren’t staying in their jobs as long as they used to. One oft-cited reason is that, as marketing becomes more and more tech-driven, CMOs are under enormous pressure to deliver and excel on both the creative and analytical sides of the business.

Round and round she goes. Where she stops, nobody knows. What we do know in the marketing world is that CMOs aren’t staying in their jobs as long as they used to. One oft-cited reason is that, as marketing becomes more and more tech-driven, CMOs are under enormous pressure to deliver and excel on both the creative and analytical sides of the business.

The leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart first started tracking CMO tenure in 2004, at which time the average was just under 24 months. That number spiked to 48 months back in 2014 but it’s been diving ever since, landing at 43 months as of 2018.

As the carousel continues to turn at an increasingly frantic rate, a surprising trend emerges: at some brands, when one person steps off another doesn’t always step on. In fact, at least four big brands–McDonald’s, Johnson & Johnson, Beam Suntory and Uber–opted not to replace departing CMOs this year.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Spencer Stuart pointed out that, as of 2009 74% of large companies employed a CMO at the corporate level. Ten years later, that number has dipped to 70%.

Here are some of the bigger CMO moves that have been made in the first 11 months of 2019.

November

Max Wetzel, Papa John’s
Wetzel replaced Karlin Linhardt, who lasted just eight months, as part of a larger management shuffle.

Patrick McLean, Walgreens
McLean made the jump from the banking industry, having previously served as CMO of TD Bank.

October

Angela Zepeda, Hyundai
Zepeda joined from Innocean USA, which is Hyundai’s agency of record. She replaced Dean Evans in the position.

Rachel Ferdinando, Frito-Lay
Ferdinando took the reins from Jennifer Saenz, who was promoted to be President of PepsiCo Global Foods.

Michael Scheiner, Tommy Hilfiger
Scheiner joined from Abercrombie & Fitch/Hollister.

Joy Howard, Lyft
Howard–a veteran of brands such as Patagonia, Nike and Coca-Cola–joined Lyft after a spell as CMO of Sonos.

Denise Karkos, SiriusXM/Pandora
Karkos swapped her position as CMO of TD AmeriTrade to join the Sirius team.

September

Karen Walker, Intel
Walker was named to the post after it sat vacant for more than a year. She came from Cisco, where she was CMO, and also worked at HP.

Deborah Wahl, General Motors
Melissa Grady, Cadillac
Wahl, a former McDonald’s CMO, made the jump from her role as CMO of Cadillac to the same post at the broader General Motors level. Melissa Grady, who had been Cadillac’s Director of Media & Performance Marketing, ascended to the CMO role.

June/July

Jackie Lee-Joe, Netflix
Lee-Joe joined from BBC Studios, replacing Kelly Bennett.

Chris Thorne, Beats by Dre
Apple’s Beats By Dre brand named Thorne, a veteran of Electronic Arts and Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co, as their CMO. He had replaced Jason White.

No One, McDonald’s
Silvia Lagnado stepped down as CMO but was not directly replaced. Instead, the brand created two new Senior VP positions to make up the difference.

No One, Uber
Rebecca Messina stepped down as CMO as part of the company’s restructuring following its IPO. Jill Hazelbaker, who was Senior VP-Communications & Public Policy, now also oversees marketing.

No One, Beam Suntory
Instead of hiring a new CMO, Beam Suntory instead named former Carlsberg exec Jessica Spence to a new “President of Brands” role.

No One, Johnson & Johnson
When CMO Alison Lewis announced she was stepping down, the company confirmed she would not be replaced due to its new business model that “streamlines priorities” and makes the position redundant.

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