New York, NY — After nearly six years with pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods giant Johnson & Johnson, Alison Lewis has left her role as Chief Marketing Officer—with no successor named. The former Coca Cola executive’s departure was announced right after Uber announced that its CMO, Rebecca Messina, would be leaving, and just before McDonald’s CMO Silvia Lagnado left her powerful perch after about four years. In each case, the CMO’s remit will be divided among executives already employed by the company.
“This is a proud moment for me,” Lewis said in a company statement. “After five years as the CMO of Johnson & Johnson, I am ready to pass responsibility to a marketing organization that is agile, close to the consumer and one that possesses a contemporary skill set that will help the Consumer business grow in this rapidly changing environment.”
A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson gestured at some of the reasoning behind the company’s decision. “To reach the more than 1 billion people who use our products every day, we have established a new business model that streamlines priorities, allows us to operate more efficiently and increases our investment in categories that offer high potential for growth and where we can make a positive impact on consumers’ lives,” they said.
These profound changes aren’t, at essence, about cost-cutting. Rather, they speak to the fundamental ways in which marketing is changing at its core, creating new possibilities and imperatives so diverse that a single person cannot take charge of them all. For example, as Allen Adamson of the consultancy Metaforce told CNBC, “Managing a global brand 24/7 on social media channels could easily burn out five CMOs in a month.”
New marketing technologies (the term “martech” is having a moment) represent wholly new ways of advertising to and connecting with customers. For instance, software programs can customize a website according to who’s visiting it, and AI can generate thousands of different versions of the same ad and display the one likely to be most motivating to a given viewer. And they’re doing that in an environment comprised of more channels and spaces than ever before.
Why This Matters
A company’s conventional marketing frameworks might not just be tired—they may be nearly irrelevant in the emerging new landscape. Leading brands across health care and other realms are learning the importance of personalizing and accelerating their marketing, as they come to understand their audiences in more and more detail. Such new, innovative capabilities are already key to staying ahead.