Agencies Take Note: 10 CMOs to Watch in 2018

10 CMOs to Watch in 2018

We’ve never minced words: CMO hires are the top trigger of agency new business opportunities, and in 2018, those opportunities will be even more plentiful. We’re seeing CMO tenure continuing to fall, and with unfavorable consumer spending trends persisting, marketers are under even greater pressure to perform or risk being replaced.

Here are 10 Chief Marketers that are going to have the toughest time this year (and thus, the greatest need for agency expertise):   

1. Mark Crumpacker, CMO, Chipotle

Tenure: 9 Years 

In the year 3267 we’ll hop to work in electric kangaroo pouches and business school textbooks will lead the chapter on "The Folly of Hubris" with Chipotle. Once untouchable, the chain continues to make mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake… you get where I’m going with this. Are they tanking on purpose for a #1 draft pick to use on their new CEO? Seriously, at this point it’s so bad you have to wonder if it’s intentional. 2018 is a make or break year for the NY Giants of the struggling fast casual sector.

2. Greg Revelle, CMO, Kohl’s

Tenure: ~1 Year

Kohl’s is still trying to sell stuff? In a giant physical store? Like most traditional retailers, they’ve struggled since the Great Recession to get customers in the door. But, consumers are more upbeat about the economy than they have been in almost 20 years, despite being maxed out. And, the department store sector did just have their strongest holiday season in several years. So, what do I know? Kohl’s and the other department stores will want to capitalize on this optimism the next few quarters before it pops.

3. Brandon Rhoten, CMO, Papa John’s

Tenure: 10 Months

Just when you thought a brand couldn’t commit a marketing fail worse than Pepsi did this year, Papa John’s said, “hold my beer.” Execs often blame poor sales on the weather or millennials, but not these guys. Known for stirring the pot, Founder John Schnatter shook his finger at the NFL protests. Predictably, a social media storm ensued and white supremacists even praised the comments. Yikes… Schnatter stepped down as CEO, leaving Rhoten, the self-described Yoda of millennials, and COO and incoming CEO Steve Ritchie (who also blamed the NFL during the call, by the way)  to pick the pizza chain up off the floor and dust off the dirt. 5 second rule! We’re still good! Hopefully, Rhoten can summon enough Force power to lift Papa John’s out of the swamp.

4. Mark Censoprano, CMO, Signet Jewelers 

Tenure: 8 Months

Those pesky millennials just won’t buy diamonds! Maybe they’re spending all of their money on avocado toast. Or, maybe, just maybe, they don’t have the money to spend on overpriced gemstones and are waiting longer to get married. Whatever the reason, this is a disaster for all traditional jewelry sellers like Signet, which gets almost 70% of their revenue from diamond sales.

5. Aimee Lapic, CMO, Pandora Media

Tenure: 2 Months

Once the leader in Internet radio, Pandora figured out about 30 years too late to jump into the the streaming music space. Now, Spotify, Apple Music and all the others have a huge lead on acquiring new listeners. Look for the legacy brand to blast some LL Cool J - “Don’t call it a comeback. We’ve been here for years.”

6. Carla Hassan, CMO, Toys R Us

Tenure: ~1 Year

Long gone are the days when parents dumped their kids for an hour at the Super Nintendo station while they competed in the Christmas Royal Rumble for Tickle Me Elmo. Today, they can leave their kids in front of the TV at home while they buy gifts on Amazon. The end is nigh for bankrupt Toys R US, but they’re not going gently into that good night.

7. Debo Mukherjee, CMO, Flowers Foods

Tenure: 4 months

Battling flat bread sales, Flowers Foods is pivoting to a consumer direct strategy to reach Derek Doback and all the other carb haters switching bread out for butter coffee. Hopefully, rising organic bread sales can turn the tide. Keep a close eye on Dave’s Killer Bread in 2018 and 2019.

8. Kumar Galhotra, CMO, Ford

Tenure: 4 months (but he’s been with Ford since 1988)

Carmakers are in trouble, and Ford is particularly vulnerable because so much of their revenue comes from SUVs and the expensive line of gas guzzling F-Series trucks. Once gas prices rise and/or credit runs out, forcing consumers to cut back even further, Ford will be stuck leaning on their more affordable compacts and sedans that fewer and fewer people want, along with a beer cooler that doubles as a gas-electric F150.

9. Bozoma Saint John, Chief Brand Officer, Uber

Tenure: 7 Months

Unlike Chipotle, Uber can commit one PR blunder after another after another after another after another after another after another and still bring in a ton of revenue. Goes to show you how much customers will overlook behind-the-scenes for a $10 cab ride home from the bar that won’t make them car sick. However, even Uber knows their love-hate brand image leaves them exposed to the myriad competitors that appear at least halfway decent to the public. Enter Saint John and some fun millennial friendly lifestyle marketing to come.

10. Greg Lyons, CMO, PepsiCo North American Beverages

Tenure: 1 Year (but he’s been with PepsiCo and FritoLay since the 90s)

We won’t speak of the Kendall Jenner ad incident again, but, wow…. Clearly out-of-touch with what’s going on in the real world and already struggling enough to sell sugar water, Pepsi has a rough road ahead. No, handing their detractors a Pepsi won’t solve everything.

There’s more where that came from

You might be wondering, how do we know which CMOs might be looking for agency partners? Where can you get more opportunities like this?

Our predictive sales intelligence publication, WinmoEdge, takes a range of predictive indicators into account to create our Vulnerable Account Index (VAI) - a compilation of brands most vulnerable to an agency review.

If you’re interested in pitching clients with a need for your services (and the budget to hire you), don’t miss out. Request a trial of Winmo today!

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Written by: Josh Stone

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