CEOs Say CMOs Have Raised Performance

More CMOs are receiving an “A” from their CEO for overall performance in their role, with 73% at an “A” or “B,” according to a new study. 

In the last two years, CMO “underperformance” has dropped from 24% to 11%, per the CMO Performance Study from Boathouse, which aims to help CMOs continue to build success, as well as expand how academics think about the role of trust in the CEO/CMO relationship. 

The study provides insights from 150 CEOs of top U.S. public and private companies across 17 industries. This year's study builds on the previous two years of data to assess shifts in CEO priorities, CMO tenure and performance, CEO/CMO trust and AI adoption.



CEOs say that 87% of CMOs understand their vision and 80% take action to execute that vision. Also, 73% of CEOs say that CMOs are “bold [and push] the organization" vs. 27% who say they are bureaucratic.

In 2023, CEOs scored their CMOs significantly higher across each area of responsibility within marketing.

Relationship and trust with the C-Suite and CEO increased to 43% of respondents from 41%. Innovation and generating new ideas rose sharply from the prior study (38% vs. 19%). Strategy is an area on which CEOs grade their CMO the lowest, but it has improved, with 31% in 2023 ranking this area positively, vs. 16% in 2022.

The survey revealed an odd trust dynamic, with CMOs gaining more trust across the organization, but having declining personal trust from the CEO, says Peter Prodromou, president of Boathouse.

“Given that marketing and communications — which often emanates from the CMO — requires a strong trust bond with the CEO, we see this as a trend worth watching,” Prodromou says. 

In 2023, CEOs believe that personal loyalty has been replaced by company loyalty.  Only 9% of CEOs say CMOs are more loyal to the CEO (27% in 2022), versus 51% to the company (34% in 2022).

According to the study, CEOs want marketing to improve five core issues, all focused on driving growth: customer expansion, sales/market share, differentiating from competitors, improving brand/reputation and transforming the company narrative in the marketplace. 

Half of CEOs rate their CMOs' marketing’s capability as “best in class,” a consistent improvement over the 20% of CEOs who gave that rating in 2021. 

Thirty-one percent of CEOs grade their marketing team as “above my expectations” in their ability to think + manage all the issues and multiple audiences.

Artificial intelligence is a top priority for CMOs, with 58% of CEOs reporting that their CMOs presented an AI approach to them.

A majority (76%) of CEOs are integrating AI into their organizations and believe marketing has the broadest AI adoption.

“In a time when marketing and communications professionals are trying to find the right balance of AI and its role in the organization, it's encouraging that this is getting CEO attention,” Prodromou says.

1 comment about "CEOs Say CMOs Have Raised Performance".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 17, 2024 at 1:31 p.m.

    Interesting findings as other sources are claiming that the CMO function is dying faster than "linear TV"---and that , as everyone knows, is happening right before our very eyes-----or is it?

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