Top marketers on the future of the CMO role and their favourite brands

The nominees for the Marketing Society Marketing Leader of the Year spoke to Campaign about how they think the CMO role will evolve - and revealed their favourite brands as the vote to find this year's winner of the coveted award enters its final stages.

Voted for by readers of Campaign and members of The Marketing Society, the winner will be revealed at The Marketing Society’s Excellence Awards at The Artillery Garden at The HAC on 14 June.

To vote, visit

The deadline is 5pm on 19 May.

Tell us on Twitter at @themarketingsoc and @campaignbrands who you are voting for, using the hashtag #msocawards

Sara Bennison - chief marketing officer - Nationwide

How do you think the role of the CMO will evolve over the next five to ten years?

It would be tempting to say that’s an impossible question to answer given how quickly the world and the marketing scene seem to be moving.  But the essence of what we do will always remain the same and it’s up to CMOs and the wider marketing community to ensure that our skills and expertise continues to be, or even becomes, valued around the board table.

Which brand (apart from your own or a sister brand) do you most admire and why?

There are so many good brands out there to choose from. However, after a number of years working on sanpro (always a part of the CV to strike fear into many interviewers), I’m going to pick Always.  A purpose, a product, a social benefactor and an individual life enhancer all rolled into one. It achieves what many would have considered impossible by showing consummate brand leadership.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne - executive director, customer, marketing and M& - Marks & Spencer

Which brand (apart from your own or a sister brand) do you most admire and why?

I have much admiration for Tesla because of the values its represents: innovation, sustainability, entrepreneurship, social impact. Its focus on sustainable energy and declared mission of "driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles" is a massive call to action to engage potential customers all over the world. Ironically, they have built a global brand without any advertising but have embraced the power of PR, social media and experiential showrooms in retail centres, redefining where customers shop for cars.

Leah Davis - head of marketing - Team GB

How do you think the role of the CMO will evolve over the next five to ten years?

Marketing is at an exciting time of evolution and the winners of tomorrow will be those who take brave strides based on strong data, good insights and a customer-centric strategy. Data is becoming more valuable as marketing communications are becoming more sophisticated and targeted. Well collected and well managed metadata which allows a brand to enhance a consumer’s experience will be the mecca for brands and services in the future. Brands that can combine a focused brand insight with robust CRM which embraces new technology are those who are leading the evolution of an exciting industry. As consumer behaviours change and technology disrupts traditional processes, marketing will be tasked with a wider spectrum of responsibilities as to account for this evolving consumer behaviour.

Which brand (apart from your own or a sister brand) do you most admire and why?

Spotify is a great example of a business that has embraced an emerging trend and led the way to revolutionise an industry. Gaining over 100 million active users in less than 10 years, few other businesses can claim such a success. It has also struck a successful balance between a free and subscription based service, which many brands struggle with when it comes to converting into commercial success. Their challenge will be to continue to fight off advances from Apple music and ensure they can remain profitable with rising business costs.

Barnaby Dawe - global chief marketing officer - Just Eat

How do you think the role of the CMO will evolve over the next five to ten years?

Gosh! It’s hard enough to predict how things will change in five years let alone ten, given the pace of change.

That said, some things will remain as important in ten years as they are today: providing strong leadership, ensuring your brand remains relevant to your customer base, being at the cutting edge of technological innovation and engaging with today’s customers to help shape the messaging for your customers of tomorrow. What will continue to change is the dominance of technology and data in the CMO’s decision-making. At Just Eat we have created a global growth team which was borne out of the technology department but reports into me. They ensure that we create a balanced eco-system where technology drives our understanding of customers’ behaviour when they are with us, and helps shape messaging to bring them back to us when they’re not. We will see a lot more product managers and data scientists being integral to the marketing team in the next five years.

Which brand (apart from your own or a sister brand) do you most admire and why?

I really admire Airbnb. They, like Just Eat, are a marketplace and whether you’re a guest or a host with Airbnb you still have the same strong connection with the brand. At Just Eat we aim to achieve this with our customers and restaurant partners. Airbnb have done a fantastic job of building an emotional brand that has a functional product at its heart but is rooted in true engagement. From the outset they put the brand at the core of their thinking which has paid dividends in building a business that is so much more than just a travel company.

Mark Evans - marketing director - Direct Line Group

How do you think the role of the CMO will evolve over the next five to ten years?

My observation is that currently the marketing function is changing more rapidly than any other part of the business. In that context, it is difficult to be specific about what the role will entail but the trend is towards being much more multi-faceted, requiring influence and oversight of technology investment, customer experience, culture, purpose, and a broad range of commercial levers in order to align the organisation behind a brand promise. Broadly, I talk about "igniting the business of tomorrow, today" which means that the CMO needs to become ever more ingenious to create a viable path to the future in a fast-changing world where consumer technology, AI, IOT, connected homes and driverless cars are changing everything.

If I think about motor insurance as an example, Tesla has now declared that it will crack fully autonomous driving by the end of the year and wait for legislation to catch up. Conceivably, before too long the level of accidents on our roads would plummet. Clearly this is a good thing for society, but also fundamentally changes the premise of insurance from the process of restitution to the service of prevention. In that context, it means that CMOs are going to need to be even stronger agents of change to ensure that their organisations can stay relevant to this level of disruptive change. It’s certainly not going to be dull to be a CMO in five to ten years!

Which brand (apart from your own or a sister brand) do you most admire and why?

One yardstick for a great brand is that people have such affinity for it that they get a tattoo. On that basis, New Zealand All Blacks is the brand that I most admire since not only do people get tattoos of the fern, but many New Zealanders want the brand logo to become their national flag. We can all learn a lot from the things that have driven the success of the world’s most successful sporting team ever. Clearly they have incredible ability and the highest standards of excellence, but they also have a culture of empowerment which seeks to transfer ownership of decision-making from coaches to players. They also combine a desire to win with a humbleness which manifests as a purpose simply to leave the jersey in a better place than they found it. Hence I love the renaissance of English rugby, but before we get too carried away we will still have to topple the All Blacks brand to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Michelle McEttrick - group brand director - Tesco

How do you think the role of the CMO will evolve over the next five to ten years?

In ten years, using an average age of 45, the majority of CMOs will be older millennials. They will need to recruit, motivate and market to younger millennials as well as Generation Z. This means that they will need to deliver a flat marketing structure, a meaningful emphasis on work-life balance and operate with a strong sense of social consciousness. All the while understanding that Generation Z will have their own "rebound characteristics" that likely won’t line up with millennial preferences. It sounds exciting!

Which brand (apart from your own or a sister brand) do you most admire and why?

Netflix has done an incredible job of moving from DVDs through the post to the brand synonymous with streaming entertainment. The brand could have become obsolete so easily had it not made the bold decision to create world class programming as well as moving from a postal to a streaming model. I also admire a brand that customers happily welcome into their living room.

Michele Oliver - vice-president, marketing - Mars

How do you think the role of the CMO will evolve over the next five to ten years?

I am a strong believer in the point of view that "A great Leader hires great talent and then gets out of their way". The importance of recruiting, retaining and engaging great talent will only increase in the future as a critical competitive edge for consumer led businesses. I believe that the CMO must take the lead on talent – to create an inclusive environment, to recruit diverse people who make them feel uncomfortable (!) and to develop the leaders of the future who drive innovation and change in our industry.

We are also seeing a technology revolution that over the next ten years will dramatically change the media and shopping habits of our consumers and, in turn, the retail landscape in which we operate. This brings with it a blurring of lines of our traditional understanding of marketing and sales, requiring a very broad perspective in marketing and sales leadership roles. I anticipate that we will start to see this play out at senior levels in our industry with roles that look holistically at growth vs. marketing as a standalone technical discipline. I think this is a very exciting prospect.

Which brand (apart from your own or a sister brand) do you most admire and why?

Channel 4 is a fabulous brand. Challenging perceptions, innovating in uncomfortable spaces , championing diversity and really showcasing brave marketing leadership. Not only does its programming (like GoggleBox, First Dates , The Last Leg) have a real impact on society by normalising difference and celebrating the creativity it brings, the broadcaster is also brilliantly entertaining, moving and engaging. I have been lucky enough get a behind the scenes view. The ethos of innovation and inclusion is at the heart of how Channel 4 works, who it recruits and the way it does business. Its support of the Paralympics is a legacy for decades to come and the innovative idea to run a competition for advertisers to bring people with disability into communications has been transformational for our Maltesers brands. An inspiration.

Aline Santos - executive vice-president, global marketing, and head of diversity and inclusion - Unilever

How do you think the role of the CMO will evolve over the next five to ten years?

The role of the CMO will continue to evolve. For global CMOs, there is a real opportunity to lead the charge on issues that impact the industry – to be a catalyst and a voice for change in this connected world. Whether that be the broader issues affecting the digital industry such as ad fraud, viewability and brand safety, "unstereotyping" advertising, or building brands with purpose.

Which brand (apart from your own or a sister brand) do you most admire and why?

I admire brands that have changed the landscape of the industry they operate in – that push the boundaries of tech, creativity and beyond. Burberry is doing some great things on social and is expanding into the entertainment industry. Netflix has shown it’s a brand that can switch on global scale overnight. Beyond that, any brand that puts purpose at its heart is something I admire – Patagonia, Under Armour, Toms… so many amazing ones out there that inspire me daily.

To vote, visit, have your say on Twitter: tell us who you are voting for @themarketingsoc #msocawards

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