Editor's Comment: Get top marketers on board
A view from Gareth Jones

Editor's Comment: Get top marketers on board

Marketers have long suffered a lack of representation in the boardroom, with all too many listed companies overlooking the role of their brands in building shareholder value.

Despite the power of marketers to generate consumer demand and, ultimately, cash flow, their discipline has played second fiddle to accounts, sales and HR.

This is changing. Managing directors, chief executives and, at ITV, even programme directors are seizing control of the marketing function.

As Helen Edwards pointed out in her column recently (Marketing, 28 July), allowing untrained amateurs to have a 'plucky stab' at marketing sets a dangerous precedent. Even those with some brand-building experience - like TUI managing director Johan Lundgren, who is taking control of marketing at the tour operator (see page three) - can flounder in the face of big, strategic decisions.

A concurrent trend is emerging, however: marketers with proven track records are being rewarded with top-level positions. Last month, McDonald's promoted its UK chief marketing officer, Jill McDonald, to chief executive; and, as we reveal this week, Patrick Cairns, the seasoned Unilever marketer and former Plum Baby boss, has joined Kallo Foods - in the same role.

Companies brave enough to give marketers a seat at the top table are far more likely to enjoy long-term success. No one within an organisation understands the customer as well as marketers, so empowering brand chiefs at board level will allow companies to constantly evaluate their strategic decision-making in the context of customer feedback. This, in turn, should lead to the creation of truly consumer-centric organisations in which innovation, co-creation and NPD can thrive.

While many investors are ignorant of marketing's potential, boosting its role can only highlight its impact on the bottom line and share price.