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CMO Tenure Study 2024: An Expanded View of CMO Tenure and Background

April 2024

For 20 years, Spencer Stuart’s annual CMO Tenure Study has tracked the tenure and backgrounds of chief marketing officers from the top 100 advertisers in the U.S. This report highlights the challenges CMOs face and the opportunities for increasing their impact. We continue to enhance our tenure study, expanding our analysis to include new data points and, in 2022, we began incorporating data from the broader list of Fortune 500 CMOs into the analysis.

As with prior years, this study tracks how CMO tenure and backgrounds have evolved, including the diversity of the CMOs at leading companies. The expanded data set, which includes a wider set of companies with broader industry representation, reflects the increasingly multifaceted nature of marketing today.

The average tenure of Fortune 500 CMOs in 2023 was 4.2 years, unchanged from 2022. Historically, conventional wisdom suggested that CMOs turn over more often than other C-suite leaders. Our analysis of Fortune 500 C-suite tenure, however, shows that CMO tenure is just under the 4.6-year average for all C-suite functional leaders.

That said, we do see a difference in the average tenure between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) company CMOs. The average tenure of B2B CMOs is 4.5 years versus 4.0 for B2C CMOs, and 22 percent of B2C CMOs in 2023 were in their role for one year or less, double the percentage of B2B CMOs (11 percent). Average CMO tenure is shorter among the consumer-heavy top 100 advertisers — at 3.1 years.


F500 CMO average tenure


F500 B2B CMO average tenure


F500 B2C CMO average tenure

We continue to see CMOs take on broader responsibility in their roles and, when they do turn over, they often move on to bigger and better positions. Thirty-four percent of Fortune 500 CMOs lead functions in addition to marketing, such as communications. Sixty-eight percent of exiting Fortune 500 CMOs either were promoted to a new role within their current company or moved to a new company in a lateral or step-up position.

Seventy-one percent of Fortune 500 CMOs in 2023 were serving in their first CMO role (the same as in 2022), and 58 percent (versus 54 percent in 2022) were promoted from within their companies. B2B companies were more likely to promote from within than B2C companies, 63 percent versus 53 percent.

Similarly, 74 percent of CMOs of the top 100 advertisers — the most since we began tracking this data in 2016 — were serving in their first corporate-level CMO role. Fifty-nine percent of top 100 advertiser CMOs were promoted from within their companies, which is unchanged from 2022.

The increase in internal promotions and first-time CMOs suggests that CEOs are increasingly willing to bet on the potential of those they already know, and that organizations are wisely investing in leadership development and succession planning for the CMO role.

When companies looked outside for CMOs, they increasingly were willing to consider candidates outside of their industry. Forty-three percent of externally recruited Fortune 500 CMOs in 2023 came from a different industry, versus 37 percent in 2022.


F500 first-time CMOs


Top 100 first-time CMOs


F500 CMOs promoted from within their current company

Women achieved parity with men in 2023, representing half of all Fortune 500 CMOs — an increase from 47 percent in 2022. However, we saw a slight drop in the representation of CMOs from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, from 14 percent in 2022 to 12 percent in 2023.

Among the top 100 advertisers, 52 percent of CMOs were women, a slight decrease from 53 percent in 2022; 19 percent of CMOs were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, a small increase from 18 percent in 2022.

As companies focus on development and internal succession planning, an opportunity exists to increase the diversity of marketing leadership teams by identifying diverse groups of high-potential leaders early in their careers and providing clear development paths, tracking their progress and establishing support systems.


F500 CMO roles held by women


F500 CMO roles held by people from historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups


Top 100 CMO roles held by people from historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups


The study is based on an analysis of the tenures and backgrounds of CMOs from the 100 companies included in the Ad Age Leading National Advertisers list as of Dec. 31, 2023, and the 357 named CMOs of Fortune 500 companies as of June 30, 2023.