The CMO Lifecycle: 5 CMOs to Watch in 2019

December 11, 2018

You’ve probably already heard, but for those just joining us, Winmo recently released the 2018 CMO tenure analysis, The CMO Lifecycle. Analyzing the most CMO tenures ever (over 2,400!), our report gives new business professionals and media sellers an unparalleled view of agency and ad sales opportunities, with key findings designed to optimize prospecting and give you a guide to the CMOs to watch in 2019.

In short, it’s a gold mine for the new business professionals who know how to use it.

To better understand how this report can be applied in a practical prospecting way, we’ve put together a list of five CMOs to watch in 2019 based on the CMO report findings. Each of these CMOs comes from one of our top-five categories and currently holds the top marketing position at their respective companies.

Based on our data analysis, each of these CMOs falls within our “sweet spot,” or the time frame when we see more CMOs rotating up and out of roles. That means these CMOs are ones to watch — but it does not mean that they’re necessarily making moves right now.

When putting together prospect lists around the CMO report data, we recommend breaking it down by industry (it’s different for each one!) and putting together a “watch list” of CMOs that could make moves in the coming year, similar to this list.

With that in mind, check out our picks for five CMOs to watch in 2019.

download cmo report

Erik Lautier, Francesca’s Holdings

  • Industry: Retail (36 months)
  • Current Tenure: 35 monthscmos-to-watch-in-2019-francescas
  • What we know: Francesca’s is making a large push to attract its target market of women in their mid-20s and early 30s with a marketing push through social, print and digital outlets. In addition, the clothing and accessories retailer also launched Fran rewards in July of this year, a loyalty program that owned a majority of marketing spend, resulting in a reported 2.1 million guests as of September. According to our WinmoEdge team, marketing spend is predicted to increase by 20% in the last half of the year with an emphasis on holiday spending.
  • The CMO: Just one month shy of retail CMO average (36 months) and one month north of Retail – Apparel and Accessories tenure (34 months), Erik Lautier is a leader to keep an eye on after 35 months with Francesca’s. With both big-picture vision and hands-on experience at multichannel retailers in a variety of growth stages, Lautier has varied experience that makes him a valuable marketing leader. Previous work experience includes E-commerce at Lacoste, where he spent 2.5 years, and EVP of bebe stores, where he spent two years. CEO Steve Lawrence said the company plans to “relentlessly test new items,” which they intend to support with increased spend. The company is clearly looking for big growth, a weight that likely falls to Lautier.

Jillian Balis, The Grommet

  • Industry: Digital Business Provider (29 months)
  • Current Tenure: 32 months
  • What we know: The Grommet, a subsidiary of Ace Hardware, offers a selection of new and quirky producmos-to-watch-in-2019-the-grommetcts to customers — before those items hit the mainstream. Combining the Grommet with the Ace store network should continue to provide opportunities in the future. According to studies, The Grommet has helped launch about 2,500 companies since its founding in 2008 and operates a site that sells to roughly 10,000 retailers across the country. Online 2017 sales were estimated at $37.8 million in 2017, and top-selling products were available at almost 400 stores.

    Rather than a focus on digital spend, as predicted in 2017, the platform increased its traditional marketing spend, releasing its first-ever national TV spot in September. Since then, The Grommet has spent $138,901 on TV spots that target the company’s typical demographic: women with a millennial skew. Spend increases are expected to continue to rise, while digital looks to be coming into play in the next year (the company has staffed up with digital experts, foreshadowing a shift in spending focus).
  • The CMO: Jillian Balis has been with The Grommet for 32 months, putting her just north of industry average (29 months). With over 20 years of experience, Balis is an expert in internet start-ups and digital marketing and is expected to stick with The Grommet until the platform sees the growth it needs to thrive.  

Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell

  • Industry: Restaurants (37 months)
  • Current Tenure: 33 monthscmos-to-watch-in-2019-taco-bell
  • What we know: Reported YTD national TV spend is $140.6 million for Taco Bell, specifically directed at their male demographic. Digital spend YTD is $6,335,500, including a recently-launched campaign promoting party packs. Look out for revenue tied to new stores as they strive to open 2,350 restaurants worldwide by 2022 and have been opening new stores each year in order to meet that goal. Personnel shifts continue and an SEO review was announced according to our WinmoEdge team and has not yet concluded.
  • The CMO: Taco Bell made changes to their executive team in January, and along with several new hires, CMO Marisa Thalberg added Chief Brand Officer to her title. She joined Taco Bell in 2015 as the first chief brand engagement officer after years in cosmetic marketing. Named one of the Top 25 Most Influential CMOs in the world by Forbes in both 2017 and 2018, Thalberg is known for business growth and helping big brands reach their full potential. With a 33 month tenure at Taco Bell, she is one to keep an eye on with uncertainty whether she will follow the restaurant industry average tenure or the QSR specific tenure at 38 months and continue in Taco Bell’s success, or move to a different opportunity to build up another big brand. A major focus for Thalberg outside of her Taco Bell responsibilities is her role as founder and president of Executive Moms, a foundation for women who are both professionals and mothers.

Susan Johnson, Suntrust Bank

  • Industry: Financial Services (48 months)
  • Current tenure: 50 monthscmos-to-watch-in-2019-suntrust
  • What we know: Suntrust Bank is on track to log their seventh consecutive year of growth in earnings per share, improved efficiency, and higher capital returns. After a strong third-quarter, Suntrust reported revenue momentum going into the fourth quarter of the year, meaning smooth-sailing and measured growth for the Atlanta-based bank.
  • The CMO: Susan Johnson is best known for helping companies transform for growth. With prior experience in leadership roles at NCR, Nokia, Apple, and a Harvard MBA, Johnson is an expert at capturing new revenue opportunities. With a tenure of 50 months, Johnson is just over the Financial Services — Banking and Lending average (49 months), and with a long list of accomplishments to her name, new opportunities are likely to be on the horizon for Johnson.

Gregory Butz, Serta Simmons Bedding

  • Industry: Consumer Packaged Goods (37 months)
  • Current Tenure: 33 monthscmos-to-watch-in-2019-serta
  • What we know: Serta Simmons Bedding, the largest manufacturer and distributor of mattresses in the United States, announced a multiyear investment in 2017 to help meet a growing demand. Four large facilities were added to its existing 30 plants, and a co-op advertising strategy was introduced called the Advantage Marketing Program that matches the advertising investments of its retailers. The household name brand, Beautyrest, is focusing on customer communication with a rise in national TV and digital display spends in 2018. The Serta brand also released its first campaign in May 2018, and while digital spend is down 38%, Serta plans to continue making pushes on the marketing front to stay competitive with the vast array of bedding brands moving into 2019.
  • The CMO: Serving as Vice President of Marketing Communications for 33 months, Gregory Butz is approaching the 37-month average tenure mark. Butz previously held positions at Digitas, Salesforce, and Wire Stone, giving him a rich background in digital capabilities. While we can’t for certain whether Butz will stay with the sleep company, his LinkedIn shows he has spent 1-2 years at most previous places.


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