If it seemed like there were more chief marketing officer appointments last year than usual, that’s because there were.
Announcements of CMO moves rose 25% across North America in 2020, with 523 publicly disclosed appointments, up from 420 in 2019, according to executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates.
And there was an uptick in hiring as the year progressed, with 282 CMO moves in North America coming in the latter half of 2020, up from 241 in the first six months of the year.
The turnover came as companies overhauled their organizations during the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to reach consumers whose buying patterns are rapidly evolving. "It has challenged leaders to evolve quicker, innovate faster, and cope resiliently," the report states.
Despite those and other internal elevations, most CMOs continued to be hired from outside their organizations, with 84% of CMOs hired externally in the second half of 2020, up five percentage points from the prior six months, Russell Reynolds reports.
The firm also highlighted the number of newly-created roles that were filled, with 17% of appointments in the latest six months coming in positions such as chief customer officer, chief commercial officer and chief growth officer that were new at their organizations. Among chief customer officer appointments, 50% were into newly-created roles, with the other 50% replacing previous chief customer officers. It continues a trend that hit full stride in 2019 of companies crafting new titles that consolidate marketing duties with executives who have broader mandates that often include sales and commercial functions such as product development, retail oversight and more.
Russell Reynolds also found a higher percentage of women filling top marketing roles when compared to other leadership roles.