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CMO Tenure Study: An Expanded View of CMO Tenure and Backgrounds

May 2023

We are pleased to share our 19th annual CMO Tenure Study. To provide an even wider lens, our latest study has been expanded to include analysis of the tenure and backgrounds of Fortune 500 CMOs, supplementing our annual study of CMO tenure among the top 100 advertisers in the U.S.

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

Here are some of our key findings:

The average tenure of Fortune 500 CMOs in 2022 was 51 months or 4.2 years, down slightly from 4.5 years in 2021. By comparison, the average tenure among CMOs of the top 100 advertisers was lower, at 3.3 years, largely due to the difference in size and composition of the two data sets. While the top 100 advertisers are all business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, the Fortune 500 companies with CMOs are evenly split between B2C and business-to-business (B2B) companies. Within the Fortune 500, the average tenure for CMOs at B2B companies is 4.4 years, compared to 4.1 years for CMOs of B2C companies.

Interestingly, despite the conventional wisdom that CMO role turns over more often than other C-suite positions, the average tenure of Fortune 500 CMOs is only two months shorter than the C-suite average.


Furthermore, shorter tenure should not necessarily be conflated with poor performance. In fact, it often is a sign of success and elevation to other roles. In the consumer-heavy top 100 advertisers group, for example, nearly 30 percent of CMOs were new in their jobs in 2022 — with a tenure of 12 months or less — compared with only 18 percent of Fortune 500 CMOs. CMOs of these consumer and retail-driven businesses are typically on a journey to more senior roles. Our research finds that 77 percent of exiting CMOs in the top 100 list go on to “bigger and better” roles, including general management positions and CMO roles at larger companies. By comparison, the CMO role of companies in the Fortune 500 is often a final destination in a career.

Months in CMO role: Fortune 500 versus top 100 advertisers

Nearly half of Fortune 500 CMOs in 2022 — 47 percent — were women, an increase from 44 percent in 2021. Fourteen percent of CMOs were from historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, an increase from 12 percent in 2021.

The diversity of the top 100 advertiser CMOs increased as well. Women held 53 percent of CMO roles in 2022, compared with 50 percent a year earlier, and 18 percent of CMOs in 2022 were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, up from 15 percent in 2021.


F500 CMO roles held by women


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


Top 100 advertiser CMO roles held by women

Fifty-four percent of Fortune 500 CMOs were promoted from within their current company, a decrease from 56 percent in 2021. Twenty-nine percent had prior experience as a CMO before being named to their current role. Among the CMOs who were hired from outside the company, 37 percent came from a different industry.

A higher percentage of CMOs of top advertisers — 60 percent — were promoted from within their company; 40 percent were hired from outside and 28 percent had prior CMO experience before moving into the role.


F500 CMOs promoted from within their current company


F500 CMOs who served in a CMO role previously


Top 100 CMOs promoted from within their current company

The Fortune 500 CMO class of 2022 — those serving in the role for 12 months or less — was even more diverse than the Fortune 500 CMOs as a whole: 49 percent were women and 25 percent were people from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Among the top 100 class of 2022, 46 percent were women and 32 percent were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

Of the 59 Fortune 500 CMOs who were appointed during 2022, 70 percent were promoted from within the company and 68 percent were first-time CMOs. Among the top 100 advertisers, 28 CMOs were appointed in 2022; 95 percent were promoted from within the company and 71 percent were first-time CMOs. The high percentage of internally promoted CMOs may suggest that CEOs are feeling confident in the company’s longer-term succession and leadership development planning for the marketing function.

Fortune 500 and Top 100 Advertisers Comparison: The Class of 2022
Fortune 500 Top 100 advertisers
2022 hires total 59 28
2022 hires percent 18% 29%
First-time CMO 68% 71%
External 30% 5%
Promoted 70% 95%
Men 51% 54%
Women 49% 46%
From an underrepresented ethnic/racial group 25% 32%


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 and the 320 named CMOs of Fortune 500 companies as of Dec. 31, 2022.

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