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Now it is Time for the CMO to 'Rock 'n' Roll'

Opinion and Insight 147 Add to collection
Brothers and Sisters CEO, Matt Charlton looks at the evolution of the CMO and how they can bring creativity back to the heart of business
Now it is Time for the CMO to 'Rock 'n' Roll'

Matthew Charlton, CEO at Brothers and Sisters explains how to bring creativity back to the heart of business and how the evolution of the CMO can do it. 


“I am an anarchist

Don't know what I want

But I know how to get it”

The opening verse to Anarchy in UK seems to sum up the business mood quite understandably right now.

Business may have been forced to reach a new point of evolution in how it works, perhaps in the way the Sex Pistols swept away the culture of music in the 70’s. What felt like the absolute cutting edge three months ago now feels like ancient history.

This is exciting and a pivotal person in this evolution will be the CMO. I can hear the expectant crowds in the arena of business chanting “CMO, CMO, CMO!”

CMO’s are uniquely equipped to start looking to marshal creativity back to the heart of business problem solving at the highest level.

We all know that business has been on a singular road gaining ever more credibility with investors through the ability to use big data to de-risk decisions. And investors asking for ever more data so they can de-risk further the thing that everyone has already de-risked.

Yet when you have a once in a hundred year event such as just happened, the ability to de-risk through data is going to become tenuous. Possibly dangerous. I’ve already sniffed certain so-called data points being used to feed into decisions which makes the word ‘assumptions’ the new comedy catchphrase.

We are moving into a new era when risk is fashionable again and in that situation creativity thrives and those that deliver it thrive. The CMO should thrive. The CMO is very likely to be the one person in real power in a corporate culture right now able to transition to utilising creativity and managing the risk elements of this.

The CMO is also often the gatekeeper to a mind boggling collection of creative talent that can be deployed to help them. Creative people spend their lives looking at problems from other angles and ignoring risk.

Two wonderful gifts of wisdom that John Hegarty gave me when I was lucky enough to work with him.

  1. Most people try and be creative in a linear way. What that means is you plot a very linear logical path to what creatively makes sense. The answer is therefore predictable. Instead John talks about the fact you are much more likely to reach a breakthrough if you leap with your idea as far as you can and then come back as little as you need to in order for it to work. Client organisations are just not set up to do this. Even in-house agencies. This approach to finding creative solutions to a range of problems has never been more needed for many brands.

  2. When John started his investment business The Garage a few years ago he espoused to me how he had seen advertising people have an almost unique ability to look at complexity and quickly break it down to something simple and inspiring. Even as upstream as looking at businesses needing early investment and shaping. Most thinking around business starts complex and ends looking even more complex. In an environment of anarchy the ability to look at complexity and find utter simplicity is vital.


As CMO’s ponder their 2020/2021 strategies the wisest of them will be keeping their smartest and most creative partners very close to trying to solve some of the biggest problems they face. And those that are not will run the risk of missing out on the true opportunities. As Anarchy in the UK promises. “don’t know what I want, but I know how to get it.”

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Brothers & Sisters , Mon, 08 Jun 2020 10:04:44 GMT