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“The role of the chief marketing officer is to look forward,” claimed Unilever’s own CMO Keith Weed when I caught up with him last week. Weed’s point is that many executives at the top of organisations are busy looking backwards – comparing the last quarter’s results with the year before.

Ruth Mortimer

But the marketer must always have an eye on the future customer, spotting what will affect how people behave and what they buy.

The topic of the marketer’s role at the most senior level also runs through this week’s cover story, a profile of AB InBev’s CMO Chris Burggraeve. He sets out how he is trying to create marketing efficiencies, holding the controversial view that needing a marketing budget of zero would be ideal.

Burggraeve isn’t advocating cutting marketing spend; he’s just in favour of products and services being so brilliant that they do their own marketing to a large extent. He wants to push word of mouth through economical digital means. That may be a tough goal, but it is just one of his many tasks as CMO of the world’s biggest brewer.

The roles and responsibilities of chief marketing officers are under the spotlight in our new section – CMO Strategy (online latet today). Nick Eades, who moved from being vice-president of marketing at Nortel to CMO of Psion, echoes Weed’s view. “You have to think like the chief executive, worry like the chief financial officer, understand digital like the chief information officer, and have the presence of the sales leader,” he says.

With this in mind, we look at whether the current crop of marketers are really making the best use of digital media to build their brands and a chief executive – Herbie Dayal of cosmetics and toiletries producer KMI Brands – provides marketers with a ‘mini MBA’ on how to manage a diverse portfolio.

Dayal creates products for brands as diverse as Orla Kiely and Ted Baker. He notes: “Managing [brands] for other people is quite difficult, everyone has a different view.” But through clever corporate structuring, the business successfully creates goods for multiple brands in line with their highly differentiated strategies.

Alongside CMO Strategy in the magazine and online, you can find a series of upcoming films accompanying the content. ‘The Uses of Research’, in conjunction with Quadrangle, offers a series of films and downloadable guides at demonstrating case studies on how CMOs can use segmentation, starting off with Sony Music.

The combination of offline and online resources we are creating within CMO Strategy aims to help our audience reach its goals, whether that is to become a future chief executive or prove a brand’s worth in tough times for the economy. We are proud to invest in taking marketing to the top table.

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