Although the current US corporate vogue is to appoint a chief marketing officer, the role is poorly defined in many companies, argues a new study by the Association of National Advertisers and management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton.

The role of the CMO is poorly defined at an alarming number of businesses, the report warns. And although companies expect marketing to provide measurable outcomes such as return on investment, current metrics are not up to the task.

Nor is the corporate marketing function aligned with the agenda of many chief executives, instead focusing on tactical issues such as maintaining branding guidelines, sharing best practices, and counseling divisions.

Monty Python addicts will recall the choral rendering of 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' in the final moments of The Life of Brian. The ANA study is similarly cheerful in similar circumstances and has produced a draft sequence of best practices for prospective CMOs.

Key "success factors" include ...

  • Identifying whether a company's CMO model is focused on providing service, advice, or driving growth.

  • An "expectations contract" with the ceo, establishing clear organizational structures and decision rights, renewing focus on capabilities such as ROI analytics and consumer insights and taking risks in pursuit of big ideas.

    According to ANA president/ceo Bob Liodice: "This joint research effort demonstrates that the dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape demands that all marketers become more accountable. The ceos have been living and breathing this for years. They are frustrated at the uncertainty of not knowing which half of their advertising dollar is 'wasted'. The message here is clear – marketers need to measure and convey."

    Data sourced from Association of National Advertisers (USA); additional content by WARC staff