These 4 CMOs Are Transforming Marketing in a Multichannel World

Effectively becoming 'CMTOs' in the process

(L. to r.) Emily Culp, Keds; Lee Applbaum, Patrón; Alicia Hatch, Deloitte Digital; and Geraldine Calpin, Hilton
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Patrón Spirits CMO Lee Applbaum is laser-focused on keeping his liquor brands on the cutting edge of marketing. But like many of his industry peers, he’s worried about getting the data part of the equation right.

“The chief marketer has always needed to be the individual responsible for driving the marketing in an enterprise and thinking about it in terms of cohabitating with your consumer, but today’s cohabitation occurs more in the digital ecosystem than ever,” Applbaum explained.

As brand execs think more about the convergence of CMO and CIO roles, the reality is that marketing chiefs are now “CMTOs”—whether they prescribe to that newfangled job title or not. At more than 30 percent of organizations, Gartner found some portions of sales, IT and customer experience report into the CMO, while 62 percent of companies said CMOs are responsible for digital commerce. The research firm also recently reported that marketing chiefs now allocate 27 percent of their budgets to technology, which in 2017 will rival the amount that CIOs spend.

While not every company has officially adopted a CMTO title, many of them from Hilton to Patrón are more fixated than ever before on the industry-wide shift toward omnichannel marketing—sometimes at the expense of traditional media.

Adweek spoke with a handful of tech-minded CMOs to learn what their key concerns are and how they plan to keep their respective brands relevant five to 10 years from now.

Emily Culp, Keds

How do you take a 101-year-old sneaker brand and keep it relevant for the next era of digital? To start, stop creating TV ads and focus more on emerging platforms from Snapchat to Instagram.

That’s exactly what Keds has done under CMO Emily Culp, who is now listening to consumers “across all these different channels,” she said. Then it’s about “distilling all the information we are getting into actionable insights, and then we do something with it.”

For example, Culp and her team routinely check their analytics dashboard to find out what products are selling in particular countries. “Then, we can trace back and see [whether] it was [due to] a blogger that we seeded, “ she added. “And we could replicate that again.”

Lee Applbaum, Patrón

For Patrón, technology is thought of as “a means to an end, not an end in and of itself,” said the brand’s marketing chief Lee Applbaum. A core focus for him is creating experiences for consumers that use technology in a natural but unexpected way.

Last year, as voice and Amazon Echo picked up speed, the brand created an Alexa-activated Patrón Cocktail Lab aimed at making it easier for consumers to discover and make Patrón cocktails at home. And now the brand is using Foursquare data to develop data-informed cocktail recommendations.

Ultimately, it all boils down to two questions, he said: “Can we enhance the consumer experience? And how can we help consumers better connect with cocktails or tequila decisions that are right for them?”

Alicia Hatch, Deloitte Digital

Deloitte Digital CMO Alicia Hatch spends most of her time obsessing over “surrounding my customer with a total brand experience and not just serving up content,” she said.

Hatch and her team are testing consumers’ neurological responses to content they view to understand how brands better deliver the proper material to each individual consumer. The idea is to eventually be able to provide the right content to the right consumer at the right time “as new data sets become available,” she said.

Her advice for other marketers? Don’t always fixate on the shiniest, newest object. “The next technology capability alone won’t change your world or your marketing world,” she said. “It’s how does that fit in to the overall effort around the customer.”

Geraldine Calpin, Hilton

At Hilton, employees spend a lot of time face-to-face with customers, so finding the right people to carry the business is key. For CMO Geraldine Calpin, merging data and creative thinking helps deliver that amazing experience every single time.

Any new tech or platform needs to do three things: make the customer experience better, make it easier for employees to deliver that experience to customers and be able to scale across Hilton’s 14 brands.

“The greatest new digital advancement from one company becomes instantly expected by a customer from every company they engage with,” Calpin said.

Her advice? “Move fast, balance art and science and listen to your team members,” she offered.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 7, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.