Vital statistics

  • A large proportion of marketers are in the boardroom – 45 per cent say their company has a top-level marketing director.
  • Alcohol manufacturers are most likely to have a marketer on the board; sports marketing the least.
  • However, 54 per cent of all respondents say that marketing is seen as a cost in their businesses.
  • A third say marketing is seen as an investment.

The business sub-sector with the highest percentage of marketing directors on the board is alcoholic drinks, where 69 per cent of marketing directors are on the board.

Outdoor media comes second (63 per cent) followed by TV (61.9 per cent) and automotive (61.1 per cent).

Least likely industries are sports marketing (23.1 per cent) the public sector (26 per cent), management consultancy (28.3 per cent) and construction/property (28.6 per cent).

The credibility of the CMO

Patrick Barwise, emeritus professor of management and marketing at the London Business School, says that having a marketing director on the board should bring a “holistic” perspective to the business.

“The credibility of CMOs is not great,” he admits, “and maybe we could do a better job by using better metrics and being more evidence based.”

Jonathan Earle, O2 ’s head of customer strategy and development agrees: “Board level hasn’t happened at fast a pace as I would hope. For Telefonica, the marketing director is the heartbeat of the customer and he or she runs the commercial aspect end-to-end.

“In other organisations it’s taking a little longer but the trend is there.” The company has had a marketer on its board for 15 years.

Barwise adds: “The term ‘voice of the customer’ has become slightly unfashionable but a key marketing role is that customer insights reach decision makers and are acted on.

“The credibility of CMOs is not great, and maybe we could do a better job by using better metrics and being more evidence based”

Patrick Barwise, Professor of management and marketing

“We’re looking for marketing skills that cross silos and persuade people to become more customer focused. The future of senior marketing management is going to be about being the leader of leaders.”

Marketing still seen as a cost

As for how marketing is regarded, 54.4 per cent of marketers say that although their work is understood, marketing is seen as a cost rather than at the heart of business.

Yet just under a third (32 per cent) of respondents say that marketing is seen as an investment and at the heart of the business.

Meanwhile, 13.6 per cent say that marketing is not understood by the rest of the company.

The sectors most likely to see marketing as a cost are firms in the public sector (33 per cent), utilities (29 per cent) and construction/property (22.1 per cent).

For Brian Walmsley, chief marketing officer at parenting club Bounty, marketing is its own worst enemy when it comes to explaining its value to the rest of the business. Too often, marketers are pulled in too many directions, diluting their effectiveness, he says.

“If there’s one piece I could give to people reading this piece, it’s for them to understand the impact of what they do on profit and loss.

“Marketing cannot be an island; it has to be about driving a vision and a purpose and communicating that purpose to the organisation. That level of business purpose meets internal communication has never been more important because of the multichannel world we now live in.”


Marketing salaries by sector, region and job title
The gender gap in marketing salaries
The most stressed marketers
The knowledge gap