Walgreens Boots Alliance Global Marketing Chief on the Changing Role of the CMO

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When I sat down with Vineet Mehra at Brandweek last year, we dove into the changing role of the CMO. In particular, Vineet shared with us “The 5 Mantras for the Modern CMO” that he’s been working on since he took on his new role as Global CMO of Walgreens Boots Alliance one year ago, having previously served as CMO of Ancestry.com.

Walgreens Boots Alliance is a $130 billion business with more than 440,000 employees, nearly 19,000 stores across 11 countries and a wholesale business that distributes to more than 240,000 pharmacies. As the global marketing leader, Vineet has four CMOs reporting to him, along with functions such as insights, marketing technology and marketing operations to name a few.

So, as Vineet approached his new role, he drew out the five critical objectives that he had to achieve as a modern CMO.

In this episode, we dive even deeper into each of these five mantras. In particular, I was fascinated with the first one: Unify the C-Suite behind the most important “C”… the customer. 

The Walgreens Experience

Walgreen's unifying functions around a customer focus.

The second mantra: Be your company’s growth hacker couldn’t be more exemplified than through Walgreen’s drone delivery–from order to doorstep in eight minutes. As T.L. Stanley said, “your move, Amazon.”

For the third mantra: Connect purpose and commerce. Vineet describes Walgreen’s “Vitamin Angels” initiative where the company contributes 1% of all vitamin retail sales to provide lifesaving vitamins to children and families in developing countries. Another moving example is Walgreen’s “Battle Beautifully” program, a cross-channel campaign that Vineet says the whole company galvanized around to deliver a new, integrated experience for cancer patients and survivors.

The fourth mantra: Make everything personal is all about hyper-personalization. Vineet shares how his team designs campaigns with more than 400 iterations to serve individual needs and provide frictionless experiences.

The fifth mantra: Cultivate unicorns is my favorite one and it’s all about how to continue to develop your teams. Vineet describes the company-wide initiative to equip its marketers with the skills they need to excel across all marketing functions.

“We all have to cultivate unicorns because if you look back at the last 15 to 20 years of how marketing training has been done, it’s about different brand-building frameworks on one hand or hardcore performance marketing on the other hand. Experience is no longer a proxy for capability and marketers, in general, are struggling with technical topics across channels. So, my personal point of view is that over the next two, three, four or five years, those people that can truly connect the dots between technical performance marketing and brand storytelling–and all of the technology and data architecture in between–are going to define the next 15-20 years of marketing.”

Tune in to hear more from Vineet on how the role of the CMO is changing and how marketing is evolving overall.

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nadine.dietz@adweek.com Nadine Dietz is chief community officer at Adweek and host of the CMO Moves podcast.