Jill Kramer

Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Accenture
"Companies need to be able to change, adapt, transform and reinvent."
Jill Kramer is the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Accenture. As more and more companies are experiencing tougher times, we talk to Jill about building resilience in marketing. What can marketers do to deal with the challenges?
You can find Jill on The 2023 Forbes Entrepreneurial CMO 50 list, and she is #36 on The Forbes World’s Most Influential CMOs List: 2023.

What does resilient marketing mean to you?
‘It's a really timely and important topic. The world has thrown a lot of curveballs at us in the past several years. One of the lessons learned is that companies need to be able to change, adapt, transform and reinvent. And as a critical service and function within companies, marketing needs to do that as well. What we need to think about in marketing is: how do you create a structure that is strong and creates clarity for the people within the company? The business, marketing and brand strategies should move together and take advantage of every opportunity. That creates resiliency in marketing.’

Would you call Accenture a resilient company?
‘Absolutely. Accenture, in its business strategy, is built for that. My job, my mission, and my hope are to create a marketing organization that can be as resilient as the businesses. This requires you to look at all the facets that make up your marketing department. What technology are you using? Are you data enabled? How is your organizational structure in your operating model? And where are your pillars of creativity, so that you can protect them fiercely? It's been a very interesting and illuminating journey.’

What did you do to build that resilience in the marketing team?
‘We started with the vision of what we want marketing to be? What did we want it to look and feel like – both internally and externally?  With our services and experts at Accenture, we were able to look at the outcomes we wanted. What did we need to build? Technology-wise, what did we need in terms of data enablement? What type of creative platforms did we need?’

Did your team get the message immediately? Or did you encounter opposition?
‘It can be a mix. Our people really wanted clarity. They wanted the ability to be agile in their own careers as well. I myself did over 900 one on ones. We enabled people to raise their hand, to step up, do something different and feel like they had an environment in which to do so. When things don't move as fast as we want, we just try to be calm and patient and listen. You have to go into something like this, not expecting perfection, but understanding where you're going for and reminding people of the ultimate destiny.’
You’re very people-oriented. Does internal marketing play a central role in talent development?
‘Yes, we looked at how we speak to our own people. We were always excellent. Every piece of communication we did was great, but the ability to be more strategic and more audience-centric internally was a great opportunity.’

Did more resilience in your marketing strategy help drive results for the company?
‘Yeah. We wanted the talent and the budget to go where the business needs it to go; whether it's how we do event strategies, different topics or content platforms, etc. This way, we're able to put our best people, our best thinking, our best creatives on a project. They all have the context they need to deeply understand it, do great work, and bring forward ideas they might not have seen before. As opposed to everything happening in organizational silos - even within marketing.’

How do creativity and data support resilience?
‘Curiosity is the greatest gift to creativity. You watch some of the best creatives and you’ll see their drive to figure something out. And data is a fantastic fuel for that curiosity. Why is this audience engaging and not that one? When you are seeking to be a resilient organization, data really helps you with decision making that everybody can and should get on board with.’

Any cool new campaigns you're working on right now?
‘Yeah. We have some great new work that we'll be running this fall; a great media strategy that we're working on within Accenture Song, our creative group. There are some really interesting partnerships that we're going to be doing in the media space. Droga5 is our agency of record on the brand and creative side.’  
Did you have the privilege to work with Droga5 founder David Droga?
‘We are right next to each other in our New York offices. He is a wonderful partner and the legend of his creativity is very real. And yes, he's highly participatory in the creative for our own brand. When he was running Droga5, he'd always be present and look at the work himself. And he does that even today, in his job of running Accenture Song. David is very data-driven, he uses the business strategy and the data to drive and fuel curiosity and creativity.’

Over the years, the marketing role in the boardroom is being replaced by the Chief Commercial Officer. Should all multinational corporations have a Chief Marketing Officer on its board?
‘Yeah, obviously. A company where brand value is part of its core DNA, should elevate the marketing function to the leadership table. It's critical in decision-making. I'm very fortunate that I work for a company that operates that way. The question is: are we doing a good enough job, as marketing leaders, of reminding people about the criticality and the expertise that is embedded in our craft?’

What new skills should CMOs have to become future proof?
‘Data is critical. You need to understand the inputs, but also what you're committing to in terms of outcomes. I have learned to embrace the technology significantly more. In marketing, putting your finger on the pulse of what's going on is really important. We have a system where I can look at every event we're doing, my budget year over year, what percentage of that budget met or exceeded its KPIs, etc. I think the ability to know what's going on in your marketing organization has been underplayed.’

When was the last time you were awed?
‘My team brought an idea to me in the generative AI space and it will apply to the entire company. There was also a creative concept I saw last week in the CSR and ESG space; it was just so simple, so clean, so beautiful. Also last week, the Droga5 team had a mind-blowing idea for us in the advertising and sponsorship space.’
It sounds like you're working in a candy store, Jill.
‘It's not all sunshine and rainbows, this is a hard job. But I still love going to work every day, and recognizing those moments of awe, of creativity, of an idea you can't wait to bring to the company, to the team, to market.’

Who inspires you most?
‘My mom. She has multiple sclerosis and is one of the strongest, sometimes stubbornest, slightly annoying people, I know. She does not adhere to boundaries that are set for her, and she's raised my sister and me in the same way.’

What do you do when you want to be creative?
‘I do believe that both walking and running gets you in that meditative state. I always end the day with a walk, even a short one. It's my ability to transition out of work and into regular life and family. And I find that to be a place where the best ideas come with incredible clarity.’

Do you have a morning ritual?
‘Always. I'm an incredibly routinized human being. My first hour of my day is about a really good cup of coffee and my favourite things to do, read, or catch up on. I then always work out and scan my email. My job requires that I make sure there's nothing urgent or crisis, but I don't engage with them until I've had that hour to myself and a really solid workout. I just know I'm a better person, because of that. It really affects my mood and my creativity during the day.’

What do you love most about being a Chief Marketing Officer?
‘I love that awe that I mentioned earlier. There's a whole bunch of different types of creativity. In my agency days, creatives were the creatives. But I learned very early on that creative producers, strategy teams, account people, can all manoeuvre things. Creativity takes many, many forms and it's very rare. I mentioned doing one on ones earlier; I try to do them daily but I definitely have several a week. I’m constantly finding out simple things people are doing that are just smart, creative ideas. So, it's almost like your birthday where there's just surprise after surprise, good news after good news. And then when you're dealing with the hard things, you’ve got this tool kit of all the great ideas and thoughts and people and talent that you can put against those problems. That way, everything feels a lot more manageable.’
What’s your advice for young marketers who want to be more resilient?
‘My daughter is in marketing and I very recently gave her this advice: I worked at very small agencies early in my career. I think it's very important for marketers to understand the difference between working at a place with incredible structure and process, and working at a place where you've got to fill in those blanks by yourself. I think you build different muscles and that may not be a career move you want to make, but it might be in your personal life or in volunteer work. I remember when I went from a small agency to DDB and I was like: ‘Wow, there's people that do that for you! I don't have to figure this out all by myself.’ But because I had spent years figuring it out by myself, I was a better co-worker. And I believe that today, I'm a better client because I used to run production at a small agency, and I had to understand all those things. So, find ways to make sure you're not flying high. Make sure that you get the opportunity to make yourself uncomfortable, that you have to try to swim by yourself. And that you have to understand the details. That is another part of my own personal key to success. I have to deeply understand, so I can make a decision. Make sure you're never keeping yourself too far from rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard stuff. If you do that early on, it changes you for the rest of your career.’
About Jill Kramer
Jill Kramer is Accenture's Chief Marketing and Communication Officer. She leads a global team of nearly 2000 professionals. Before joining Accenture in 2015, Jill held successive senior leadership roles at BBDO and DDP. This year Forbes placed her in the top 50 list of most influential CMO’s in the world.

About Accenture
Accenture Strategy and Consulting, headquartered in Dublin, provides business strategy, technology strategy, operations strategy services, as well as technology, business and management consulting services. Accenture was founded in 1989 and is currently one of the Fortune Global 500 companies with reported revenues of $61.6 billion as of 2022. Accenture ranks more than 90 Fortune Global 100 companies among its client.
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