Adweek spoke to four top CMOs recently. Here’s what they said:

“The chief marketer has always needed to be the individual responsible for driving the marketing in an enterprise and thinking about it in terms of cohabitating with your consumer, but today’s cohabitation occurs more in the digital ecosystem than ever.”

Translation: people use the internet.

“[we are listening to consumers] across all these different channels [and] distilling all the information we are getting into actionable insights, and then we do something with it. Then, we can trace back and see [whether] it was [due to] a blogger that we seeded. And we could replicate that again.”

Translation: we do research and evaluation.

Lessons in the use of meaningless jargon aside, this article was about the rise of the “CMTO” – marketing chiefs using data and technology to improve commercial performance. The T being for technology.

The article makes it sound like they are the first people to think of doing research on an audience or evaluating performance.

The problem with becoming so obsessed and reliant on data and technology is that some CMOs think that anything that came before those two things is meaningless.

They forget about the learnings and experiences to be had from decades of creative work that’s had a lasting cultural impact, made entire markets and lots of which is enduring and memorable today.

No one is going to remake Mad Men in 20 years about a CMTO.

As Nadya Powell recently summed up in her break-up letter to advertising:


You just do what she tells you to, without thinking twice:

Data tells you the target market is always millennials.

Data tells you that when everybody zigs, you should zig too.

Data tells you that a three millisecond view by an online bot is a reliable measure.

Data tells you that only way forward is programmatic everything.

And you just agree.

As if that Data knows anything about humans or originality.

Data has as much relevance as research and evaluation has always had; no more no less. Obviously, it’s an essential component to any strategy, but why some CMOs increasingly expense the value of creativity for data is a mystery.

At a time when people are more brand dis-loyal and bombarded by marketing than ever, creativity should matter more than ever.

Despite the trend – that CMOs should have something do with commercial growth – that Adweek and those talking about Chief Growth Officers think they have recently uncovered, CMOs have always been responsible for improving commercial performance. That is the point of marketing.

Data alone is not the answer to that challenge.

Marketing is only good if it sells.

Ideas sell things, not data.

If anything, CMOs should strive to add a C for creativity to their acronym, not a T for technology.

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