CMO as Change Agent
The CMO (or senior brand leader) is perhaps one of the few people in a company who can act as change agent. As I wrote in another piece, the question is really one of are you, CMO, there to just try and bang the gong for what you do (market and advertise), or are you there to help your company do things that are market worthy (which is what NubianSkin, Tom’s Shoes, and Chipotle do).
You may say to yourself, hey, I make dishwashers – they’re not going to change the world. That’s true – but you can have a cause. Who can forget Jesse White as the Maytag Repairman (Mr. Lonely), which was a concept created by Leo Burnett and Vincent R. Vassolo. When White stopped playing Mr. Lonely, Gordon Jump (of WKRP fame), continued to portray Mr. Lonely as a symbol of quality for Maytag products. Their “cause” was quality. When Maytag actually stopped making quality products – the “cause” it had championed for nearly 50 years almost killed them – consumers weren’t about to support Maytag’s marketing of quality if the products didn’t match.
I have no doubt that every business is in part organized around a cause of some kind. That cause is more than making money – revenues are a result, not a basis of the value created. Thus, within that cause for existence is the basis perhaps for developing something that will draw people in – differentiating you from everyone else in marketplace.
As CMO, it’s your job to find that cause. It’s your job to set that tone.