Merlin appoints Craig Inglis as first CMO

Describing the creation of the CMO role as a “significant milestone”, the entertainment giant has tasked Inglis with “redefining” the brand globally.

Merlin Entertainments has appointed former Sage marketing boss Craig Inglis as its first CMO, as the company looks to “elevate” its position as a global brand.

Inglis, who will join the executive leadership team on 17 June, is charged with spearheading Merlin’s “transformative initiatives” to drive engagement with customers across four continents. The business, which owns the likes of Legoland, Madame Tussauds and Sea Life, describes the creation of the CMO role as a “significant milestone” in its evolution and expansion globally.

“The role will be integral as we redefine our own Merlin brand, as well as the brands we bring to life in our attractions,” says chief operating officer for resort theme parks and gateway attractions, Fiona Eastwood.

Inglis will “challenge, drive and revolutionise” how Merlin markets to customers in the future, she adds.

Describing himself as “delighted” to join Merlin, the incoming CMO claims it was an easy decision to take up a role with a purpose to “create joy”.

Sage’s global brand EVP Craig Inglis departs

“Merlin’s commitment to innovation aligns perfectly with my own passion for harnessing creativity to reimagine brands. Together, we will push boundaries, challenge conventions, and create experiences that captivate the hearts and minds of our guests and audiences around the world,” Inglis adds.

Preparing to join the business after completing a stint as chief customer officer at The Entertainer Group, Inglis is non-executive global chair of The Marketing Society.

Until September, he served as executive vice-president of global brand and integrated marketing at Sage, departing the B2B financial tech firm after 16 months in post.

Prior to joining Sage, Inglis spent more than 12 years at John Lewis, rising from head of brand communications to customer director, with responsibility for the end-to-end customer proposition and a £200m marketing budget.

Before joining John Lewis, Inglis spent a decade at Virgin Trains, latterly serving as sales and marketing director. He kicked off his career as a product manager at Thomson Holidays.

Merlin’s decision to appoint its first CMO comes as the business has struggled to return to pre-pandemic visitor levels across its 141 locations worldwide.

In March, the business reported it attracted 62.1 million visitors last year, 5 million down on the 67 million who visited in 2019. While revenues rose 8.4% year on year to £2.1bn in 2023, the company notched up a £214m pre-tax loss attributed to its Legoland attractions built in New York and South Korea during the pandemic.

The entertainment giant also announced in March it plans to introduce an “intuitive” dynamic pricing model across its top 20 global attractions by the end of the year, which will see Merlin charge people more to visit on peak summer weekends versus rainy off-season weekdays.