Study: CMOs at top brands have shorter tenures — but they’re rising to bigger roles


The latest CMO tenure study from Spencer Stuart, examining the backgrounds and tenures of CMOs, now includes data from Fortune 500 companies.

(Photo credit: Getty Images).

CMOs at the top 100 advertisers have shorter tenures than their counterparts in the Fortune 500, according to leadership consultancy Spencer Stuart’s latest annual CMO tenure study, released this week.

According to the study, CMO tenure at Fortune 500 companies in 2022 slightly edged out the top advertisers at 4.2 years, compared to 3.3 years. 

However, according to the study, while CMOs are typically the shortest-tenured executives in the C-suite on average, many CMOs at top brands are leaving their posts to take higher positions within their companies, including general management, or moving on to CMO roles at larger companies. 

Those already working for Fortune 500 companies are more likely to stay put, though the average tenure of Fortune 500 CMOs is only two roughly one year longer than those at the top 100 brands.

The study found that Fortune 500 companies hired 59 new CMOs in 2022, as the top 100 advertisers hired 28. Sixty-eight percent and 7%, respectively, are first-time CMOs. 

Surveyed CMOs also show an uptick in diversity. 

In 2022, women comprised 47% of CMO roles at Fortune 500 companies and 53% at the top 100 advertisers, while historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups topped out at 14% of Fortune 500 CMOs and 18% of the CMOs at the top advertisers. Across the board, these numbers mark an uptick from 2021. 

The annual report tracks the shifts in CMO tenure, profile and backgrounds. For the first time, the study, now in its 19th year, has expanded from covering just the Ad Age top 100 advertisers to include CMOs at Fortune 500 companies in order to provide a broader industry representation.

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