HP’s CMO: We must be business people first and marketers second

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Antonio Lucio believes marketing must be about building the business, not just the brand, if it wants a seat at the top table.

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HP’s Antonio Lucio, Diageo’s Syl Saller and Alison Lewis from Johnson & Johnson speak at Cannes Lions


The job of a senior marketer is more complex than it has ever been but the key to becoming a more influential marketer has never been simpler – drive growth in your business, according to HP CMO Antonio Lucio.

The convergence between corporate communications and marketing, and the fragmentation of media and data means the “role is getting is getting wider, more complex and more exciting than ever before”. However, he thinks the objectives have never more focussed and marketers must be “a business person first and marketer second”.

“If you want a seat at the top table you need to demonstrate that your efforts are not just about building your brand but about building your business, otherwise you don’t matter,” he explains.

Responding to a question about the changing role of the CMO at an event hosted by The Economist at the Cannes Lions Festival yesterday (21 June), Lucio said his job was made up of four separate roles: chief brand officer, driving capability as chief personal officer of the marketing function, working with other departments “to get shit done” as chief alignment officer and chief storyteller “ensuring everything is aligned to the brand”.

Lucio was speaking alongside Diageo CMO Syl Saller and the CMO of Johnson & Johnson Alison Lewis. Saller believes that the CMO has to resist the pressure that can lead to short-term thinking with a “strong vision of the future”.

If you want a seat at the top table you need to demonstrate that your efforts are not just about building your brand but about building your business.


Antonio Lucio, HP

“The CMO has to operate in every time horizon and deliver the short, medium and long. We have to anchor ourselves more strongly in the long because the weight of the organisation is going to take you back to short term in many cases,” said Saller.

“Ambidexterity” is also key to success in the role, Lewis said. “The role of the CMO has a duality today that it didn’t have in the past. We have to be good at doing scale but also be good at doing personalisation as well. For us, we have to be bricks-and-mortar marketers as that is still a large part of our business but we need to learn to be etailers too.

She added: “All of these things are dualities. I think what it says about what a CMO needs to be is grounded about driving the business and constantly learning.”

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