Survey Says..Uh Oh

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by: Jonathan Salem Baskin

A survey of top marketing executives at 180 businesses late last year revealed lots of interesting tidbits, and one overwhelming observation: they’re clueless.

Here’s the CMO Survey, issued by Epsilon, a marketing services company. I encourage you to check it out, just in case you were concerned that maybe you were missing something. You’re not. They are. Here are a few highlights:

  • Apple is the only company in existence that knows how to "do marketing." It ranked higher than the muddle of second-tier companies by a factor of 6. This is intriguing, since Apple 1) doesn’t buy in to or practice any precept of marketing as we know it, and b) it doesn’t even have a CMO
  • The majority of survey respondents preferred John McCain for President. Interpret that as you wish
  • A third of the CMOs surveyed were "somewhat unsatisfied" with the job applicant pool these days, citing "creative thinking" as the most important quality the job-seekers lacked (70%). This observation comes in spite of the literal mad horde of unemployed marketers trolling the online classifieds for jobs they’re overqualified to perform. And with technology, distribution, science, and loads of other pursuits encroaching on marketing’s domain, the most important quality in a new hire is creativity?
  • 86% of CMOs are satisfied, at least somewhat, with their primary exernal agencies. No, I’m not kidding. I suspect it has something to do with tickets to sporting events, as it can’t having any relationship to business results

This is some truly frightening stuff, but if you ever read the pages of Brandweek, you’re used to it by now. I have to remind myself that these are the types of people who are busy giving us Super Bowl ads and branded social media. They play their latest creative conceits and quack science playthings for one another as if it weren’t utterly irrelevant, then talk about "return on investment" and "innovation" as consumers continue to tune out, shut down, and stop buying.

In other words, they’re madly keeping the trains running on time as the Allied armies approach; or, more kindly, they want to make sure that the post-iceberg seating arrangements on the Titanic are done properly. The war is over, the ship is sinking, and they should be feverishly challenging and redefining everything…the what of a good vs. bad job applicant, the idea that any agency is doing a satisfactory job…in fact, what is satisfactory in a marketplace that values branding at $0?

This CMO Survey is just futher evidence that they’re clueless.

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