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CMO Tenure Still Short, But New Trends Point to a Brighter Future  

Although chief marketing officers still have a short shelf life, there are plenty of reasons for marketing leaders to be upbeat, according to a recent study by executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

arrow 306811 640 smallAs Marketing Week reports, Spencer Stuart found that the average CMO at the top 100 U.S. advertisers had held the job only 39 months, or 3.3 years. That’s down from 40 months in 2021 and is the lowest reading in more than a decade.

Among Fortune 500 companies, the average CMO last year had been in the role for 51 months, or 4.3 years, compared with 54 months in 2021, according to Spencer Stuart. Importantly, the top 100 advertisers are only consumer-facing businesses, while the Fortune 500 is split cleanly between B2C and B2B.

CMOs’ reputation for especially short stints may be exaggerated. Spencer Stuart found that the average Fortune 500 CMO tenure last year was only two months shorter than that for other C-suite positions.

As The Wall Street Journal highlights, the reason for CMOs’ short tenure often seems to be their upward mobility. According to Spencer Stuart, 77% of exiting CMOs among the top 100 advertisers go on to “bigger and better” roles, such as president, executive vice president, or divisional manager, or as CMO at a bigger organization.

Chris Ross, an analyst at research firm Gartner, told the Journal that his firm has observed more due diligence by CMO job seekers and the companies hiring them alike. He also clarified that CMOs at Fortune 500 companies often have longer tenures because their large, complex businesses tend to depend less on short-term advertising results.

As Ad Age notes, the study also suggests that diversity and inclusion initiatives may be paying off at the CMO position. At the top 100 advertisers last year, women held 53% of CMO jobs, up from 50% in 2021, while 18% of CMOs were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, versus 15% the previous year. Among Fortune 500 companies, women held 47% of CMO roles in 2022, up from 44% in 2021, while people from historically underrepresented groups made up 14% of CMOs, up from 12% in 2021.

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