CMO Pay Is Rising. Who Makes the Most Money?
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CMO Pay Is Rising. Who Makes the Most Money?

by E.J. Schultz

5 minute read

Chief marketing officers might have a harder time holding onto their jobs, but don’t feel sorry for them – they’re still raking in the cash, despite rising turnover.

Median compensation for the nation’s top marketing executives jumped 24 percent in the five years ending in 2016 to $1,261,755, according to a new study by Equilar, a corporate executive data provider whose specialties include executive compensation.

The highest-paid marketing executive on the list is Jonathan Hargis, Executive VP and CMO at cable TV operator Charter Communications, who pulled in $15,027,148 in total compensation last year. Coming in second was Jeremy Burton, Exec VP of Marketing and Corporate Development at Dell Technologies, who made $13,355,747.

The firm analyzed annual proxy statements from U.S.-based or listed public companies with more than $500 million in revenue from fiscal years 2012 to 2016. The rankings are not comprehensive because they only include executives who made the list of highest-paid executives on corporate proxy statements; some CMOs at big multinational companies don’t make this cut, but could potentially make more money than the execs ranked by Equilar. Still, the list provides a window into pay trends.

The 24 percent jump exceeded the growth for CEO pay, which was up 22.2 percent. CEOs typically still make at least two to three times as much as CMOs, according to Equilar.

Highest Paid Marketing Executives

Company Executive Name Title Total Compensation
Charter Communications, Inc. Hargis, Jonathan Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer $15,027,148
Dell Technologies Inc. Burton, Jeremy Executive Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Development $13,355,747
Palo Alto Networks Inc. Bonvanie, Rene Chief Marketing Officer $13,114,413
Coca-Cola Co. De Quinto, Marcos* Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer $7,635,055
Time Warner Inc. Ginsberg, Gary Executive Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Communications $6,862,983
Electronic Arts Inc. Bruzzo, Christopher Chief Marketing Officer $5,728,077
Marriott International Inc. Linnartz, Stephanie Global Chief Commercial Officer $5,183,745
Autodesk Inc. Anagnost, Andrew** Senior Vice President, Industry Strategy and Marketing $5,034,940
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. Crumpacker, Mark Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Development Officer $4,900,736
CSX Corp. Eliasson, Fredrik Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer $4,696,311

*Retired in 2017

**Anagnost was promoted to president and CEO in June 2017

Methodology: Total compensation includes salary, bonus, stock and options awards at grant date fair value, and “other compensation” such as benefits and perks as disclosed in the Summary Compensation Table (SCT) of annual company proxy statements. The list was compiled from the Equilar database, inclusive of U.S.-headquartered or listed companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue.

Source: Equilar, Inc.

Pay up, tenure down

The rising pay comes as CMO tenure keeps falling. A CMO at a leading consumer brand spends an average of 42 months in the role, down 13 percent from 2014, according to consulting firm Spencer Stuart. But the CMO role is seen as more prominent, which explains the rising compensation, according to Equilar. Nearly 200 top marketing executives are among the top five highest-paid employees at their respective companies, according to proxy statements examined by Equilar.

“Organizations are becoming more complex, and more companies are pulling marketing and advertising functions in-house, so executives that can harness customer data, analytics, and other types of marketing technology are at a premium,” says Dan Marcec, Director of Content and Communications at Equilar. “As you’d expect in such a scenario, competition for the top talent heats up, and compensation rises to attract and retain the best of the best.” Also, as companies hunt for talent, they are increasingly tapping external candidates for CMO roles, as Ad Age reported last month.

Gender gap

Women are still underrepresented in top marketing jobs, but they are making progress. Women accounted for 18.4 percent of top marketing execs in 2016, up from 10.8 percent in 2012. Still, despite their fewer numbers, female marketing execs on average made more money than men last year among the positions analyzed by Equilar. Median compensation for females nearly doubled from 2013 to 2016 and is now $1,640,174. That compares with $1.2 million for men, according to the report.

But only one woman cracked the list of 10-highest-paid marketing execs. Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer at Marriott International, came in seventh at $5,183,745 in total compensation. She joined the company in 1997 as a financial analyst and worked her way up the ranks. She now oversees brand management, sales, marketing, revenue management, digital, distribution, consumer insights, and innovation, and information technology, according to her Marriott bio.

The report cited several potential explanations as to why pay for top female marketing leaders is higher than for men on average. “One possibility, for example, is that women could potentially be top marketing leaders at larger companies, which tend to pay higher,” the report states. Also, “larger, more publicly visible companies tend to be more progressive when it comes to diversity in top executive roles.”

Notable CMOs cracking the top 10-compensated list include Marcos de Quinto, who was Coca-Cola Co.’s global CMO until he left earlier this year. He ranked fourth at $7,635,055. Mark Crumpacker, CMO and Chief Development Officer at Chipotle Mexican Grill, came in ninth at $4,900,736. Crumpacker was put on administrative leave in June 2016 after he was charged for cocaine possession. He returned on Sept. 8 of that year, after completing a drug rehab program.

Below are some other notable names that are among the top 50-highest paid:

15. $4,317,617: Michelle Wilson, World Wrestling Entertainment, Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer

19. $3,625,819: Jonathan Potter, Boston Beer, CMO

22. $3,536,334: Anthony Palmer, Kimberly Clark, President, Global Brands and Innovation

23. $3,463,171: Silvia Lagnado, McDonald’s Corp., Corporate Exec VP and Global Chief Marketing Officer

31. $3,132,076: Christopher Brandt, Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. (Outback Steakhouse), Executive VP and Chief Brand Officer

32. $3,119,021: Fernando Acosta, Avon Products, Executive VP, Chief Marketing and Social Selling Officer

39. $2,825,348: Warren Schlichting, Dish Network, Executive VP, Marketing, Programming, and Media Sales

47. $2,513,912: Lauren Hobart, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (This compensation reflects her pay as executive VP and CMO. She was promoted to president in May of 2017.)


From, 11-01-2017, copyright Crain Communications Inc. 2013

This article was written by E.J. Schultz from Ad Age and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to