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By Joanna Seddon, Managing Partner


CMTO, for those who haven’t come across this term, stands for Chief Marketing Technology Officer. It is garnering lots of praise. There is even an HBR article about it. It is the latest in a plethora of new titles that illuminate the need for marketing to redefine itself, raise its profile and change its game. Companies are abolishing CMO titles, replacing them with almost anything that comes to mind: Chief Growth Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Customer Officer …Why? There is dissatisfaction and lack of trust of CMOs by CEOs and Boards. The data show that 90% of CEO’s trust their CFOs and CIOs, 80% don’t trust their CMOs. This is because, while growth is the CEO’s top priority, they don’t see their CMOs delivering on it. CEOs are thrashing around for an alternative. The cause is CMOs’ failure to rise up to the demands of their job. Being a CMO should mean so much more than communications. CMOs should be leading the side of the P&L that matters most – the creation of demand through building powerful brands that pull the company towards its future strategic objectives. Being a CMO should mean spearheading innovation, digital transformation, a better customer experience, increasing diversity, equity and inclusion and implementing a sustainable approach to doing business. It encompasses recruiting and talent management, and even, dare I say it, sales.


CMTO is a particularly egregious alternative to the CMO title. It elevates the importance of technology and implies that this is what marketing is all about. This diminishes and devalues marketing. Marketing has magic at its heart. Is marketing technology useful and important? Of course. I am a fervent believer in linking brand and marketing to data. But it comes a far distant second to creativity. Technology is the means through which creativity can be expressed, but it is the feelings that matter. The world’s top marketers know this. When asked to talk about marketing’s future, at their induction into the 2022 Marketing Hall of Fame, Marc Pritchard, Ann Mukherjee, Bozoma St. John and Antonio Lucio all brought this up. Antonio argued for less STEM education, more Humanities. Ann called creativity, “the oxygen for growth”. Boz embodied creative dynamism. Marc summed it up, “ Despite all of the wonders of technology, remember this one immutable law…you will know when you’ve got something that connects – because your spine will tingle…your eyes will well up…or you’ll laugh out loud…or you’ll smile from ear to ear. Because marketing is right here – in your heart and soul. It’s not rocket science, but it can take you to the heavens if you try. “


Creativity brings the spark, creates the emotion that makes a brand special, attracts customers, drives sales and builds enduring value. If you are using the CMTO acronym, please kill it.

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