Agency reviews, even successful ones, can be very costly to the agency in question, and so knowing when a review might be triggered can save not only time and money, but lost productivity and reputation. The most reliable indicator of whether a brand is about to review its agency relationships is a change of chief marketing officer.
Given these facts, one of the most powerful pieces of intelligence an agency can have is an understanding of how often the brands they work with turn over their CMO, or most senior marketer.
Last year, WinmoEdge began tracking the histories and moves of the top marketing position at more than 1,100 companies among the top US advertising spenders. Exploring data going back to 2010, we looked at 1,400 tenures across consumer-facing industries like consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail, hospitality, financial services and more.
That data has been pored over and cross-checked and molded into a substantial report on average CMO tenure. Most similar reports have shown average CMO tenure to be above 40 months since 2010, but our report reveals the financial services and travel & hospitality are among the few industries where the CMO remains in position for three years or more. In fact, the median tenure for CMOs in our report is a quick 27 months: a full year less than previously reported.
This has a direct impact on agency timelines. After a new CMO is named, a review of agencies of record is commonly undertaken in the first six months. By the time the CMO has been directing the brand’s marketing efforts for a year, the (possibly new) agency launches its first campaign. A year later, the CMO is either on the verge of moving on, up or out, and the agencies the brand works with can look forward to another review. Sounds exhausting.
So what can you do about it? In truth, you can’t change the timelines on which CMOs change. All you can do is be ready when it happens. Developing strong relationships up and down the chain of people who influence marketing decisions is vitally important so you’re known to them if they’re the next CMO, because that may be the difference between preventing a review, being invited to pitch, or losing the business.
On the other side of the coin, if there’s a brand you’d like to work with, making friends with a brand new CMO is a great way to be front-of-mind when they launch agency reviews. Prospecting CMOs in this period is likely to yield much more positive results, and prioritizing marketers in or near this time frame for your outreach efforts should be part of any agency new business program.