Why marketers are failing to get a place in the boardroom

From using marketing jargon to a lack of ambition, marketers need to change their ways to earn their spot in the boardroom, says Camelot UK Lotteries CEO Andy Duncan.

Speaking at Thinkbox’s Big Think 2015 event today (30 September), Duncan said that marketing has lost its business credibility – even though most companies recognise its value in driving the heart of the business.

“Of the Fortune 1,000 US companies, only 34 marketing directors sit on the executive board. On the FTSE 100, this number is only slightly better,” he explained.

The reason for marketers not getting that all-important place at the boardroom table is twofold. Firstly, marketing has an image and language problem, according to Duncan.

“As a term, marketing is often misunderstood and too many marketers use jargon that other members on the board simply don’t understand. As a result, marketing directors don’t get taken seriously,” he said.

Marketing can also be seen as a cost rather than an investment, which is cut when businesses face difficult times.

“Marketing should be a broad strategic discipline, but too often it’s a narrow function that has one particular job to do and doesn’t have the ambition or desire to get involved in other issues,” he commented.

As a result, marketers have to upgrade their skill set to earn respect.

“Great marketing is art and science combined. To be on the boardroom table, marketers need to be a fully clued up on the strategic and business side of things, but also be the lifeblood of creativity and bring in new ideas,” he said.

Marketers should also become the CEOs best friend by bringing together different teams across the business.

“Marketing directors at their best should be the glue around the whole organisation,” Duncan concluded.

  • Do you want to ensure your brand’s campaign gets the recognition it deserves? Enter the advertising category in this year’s Masters of Marketing. Go to the Masters site for details of how to enter.


Simon Carter Fujitsu

Fujitsu’s marketing director on aiming for the boardroom

Jo Roberts

Marketing Week Live 2014 includes sessions to help marketers develop the persuasive skills needed to talk to the top table. Simon Carter, Fujitsu marketing director and member of Marketing Week’s Vision 100, discusses why marketing should be represented on the board and how to get there.


There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Connugy 1 Oct 2015

    I’m all for having marketers being “clued up ” commercially. I like to think I’m one myself, being in a line of business where you’re always, rightly, being asked to prove your worth, by demonstrating the worth of what you do. That’s a given.

    But if your company’s approach to marketing is to “let it prove itself” then it wouldn’t have had even the emotional support necessary for success, let alone the proper investment.

    Take his assertion marketing “should be a broad discipline” – IT ALREADY IS, you scary, scary man – who said this in 2015!

    The only thing that’s narrow here is the view the fault lies with “jargon” and not incompetent board members.

    Is marketing really that new a discipline that “board members” are still pig-headed 60-something blokes with their own pretty little assistant each?!

    If YOU can’t champion marketing at board level amongs your peers, Mr board member, then I don’t want to work at your company, and you should probably be in another job yourself.

    “Hey you, you’ll be an afterthought here, if you ever get past our dated views of what it is you actually do, no that you’ll be asked to it of course.

    So ……..fancy a job?”

    Epic ignorance.

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