Tuesday, August 28th, 2018 | 6 min read
“With great power, comes great responsibility.” – Benjamin Parker (AKA Uncle Ben)
Okay, maybe comparing business leaders to superheroes is a stretch. But just like our favorite comic book and movie protagonists, CMOs often find themselves in positions of great influence and power. Like Spiderman, many executives choose to use their powers responsibly, for good.
A number of the CMOs profiled in The World’s Most Influential CMOs list for 2018 regularly take part in online discussions about issues they care about. They use their influence as a launching point – leveraging their following to raise awareness about important topics.
Reading through the report, we identified a few subjects in particular that have captured the attention of CMOs. The most popular topics fall into three main categories:
Gender has been a dominating force in 2018 media coverage. As more people spark conversation on what is and isn’t acceptable in the business world and everyday life, CMOs are stoking the flames to illuminate inequality where it stands.
One prominent example occurred at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The show initially featured an all-male speaker list, prompting many people to call out the oversight on social media. In response, Twitter’s CMO and Head of People Leslie Berland came up with a Twitter-sponsored lineup that featured female movers and shakers in marketing and other fields.
In the end, a number of events were added to the CES lineup to showcase the role of women in technology. The Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES, committed to including more women in future events, as well as supporting women in the tech space.
Business leaders are also taking steps to create a more inclusive environment in the workplace. When HP’s Global Chief Marketing and Communications Manager Antonio Lucio saw minimal female representation at the company’s advertising agencies, he called on leaders to diversify their teams at all levels. One year later, and women represented 61% of the agencies’ workforces, and 51% of creative leadership roles. Those numbers alone are encouraging, but the impact they’ve had is even more impressive. HP’s ads have seen a 33% improvement in revenue per impression following this change.
When it comes to business success, sustainability is key. From the start, it’s important to create a business that can thrive and grow for years to come.
Smart leaders know this, which is why they are increasingly turning to sustainable practices within their companies. From both a practical and environment standpoint, this is a great strategy since renewable materials and energy cut costs and add reliability long-term. It also makes sense from a branding standpoint as more consumers call on companies to minimize their footprints.
Lately, more CMOs are getting involved in the conversation. Not only do they tout the environmental considerations of their products, they also discuss current events and trends related to the industry.
Spotify CMO Seth Farbman is a well-known advocate for sustainability. In fact, he mentions it right in his Twitter bio. He also isn’t afraid to make his opinions known, regularly retweeting content that he feels is important to share.
It’s no secret that for many years, boardrooms have looked pretty homogenous. Recently, more executives are speaking out and taking action to diversify the workplace.
With customers representing all backgrounds, it’s important for brands to understand the different needs and perspectives of their audiences. By hiring and advancing people from underrepresented groups, businesses have a more accurate view of what each of their customers want.
Bozoma Saint John is a great example of the benefits of diversity. As the CMO of Uber up until recently, she has shown the world that the cookie-cutter corporate executive needs to be turned on its head. She has garnered attention not just for her leadership roles, but for her commitment to advancing women in business, especially in technology.
While sharing information is a great way to build awareness of certain topics, some CMOs take a more direct approach, coming up with ways for their audiences to get involved.
Tom Herbst, Global VP of Marketing at The North Face, had an unconventional response to the politicized “build the wall” controversy. Rather than denounce the message, the brand gave it new meaning with its “walls are meant for climbing” campaign.
The North Face also donated $1 million to The Trust for Public Land to build public climbing walls throughout the U.S. This campaign worked well because not only did it take a political stance in a non-confrontational way, it also aligned well with the brand and its customers. The North Face is known for its outdoor products, so it created a campaign that tied current events to outdoor recreation.
When companies and their leaders comment on issues that matter, they raise the volume of the conversation. This builds awareness and lends power to necessary discourse. Just remember, this power brings with it great responsibility. Tweet responsibly.
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