Filling the creative gap left in business


Deloitte Digital’s creativity gap research is based on the analysis of global company profiles and job postings, including:

  • +2 million organisational profiles from public, private, and non-profit organisations (sourced by BoardEx) revealed how c-suite titles evolved over the last decade.

  • +3,000 CMO role postings from the Burning Glass database provided insights into how CMO role postings evolved over the last decade.

Deloitte Digital analysed over ten years of company profiles and saw a shift in senior leadership roles. More roles are now oriented towards growth and revenue generation, which suggests companies are deprioritising creativity. This can leave a gap in the c-suite where creative solutions can be championed; a gap in talent where creative skills are needed to develop ideas into outcomes; and a gap in organisational culture, where creative thought can permeate. In short, we are seeing an expanding creativity gap. To understand how marketers and creative leaders can fill this creative gap, we should first understand why it exists.

How is this gap evolving?

For years, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) recognised the need to focus on business growth as a core part of their role. This evolution was met with additional pressure from senior management and boards on CMOs to drive growth. Today, this has resulted in more CMOs finding themselves accountable for their company’s growth agenda.1

Deloitte Digital analysed the last 10 years of companies’ executive profiles and CMO role postings to understand how this is unfolding. The research shows the growth mandate is sparking an evolution in the c-suite; it's influencing the direction of new roles and CMO skillsets. Crucially, it may be depleting organisations of creative leadership.

Where’s the creative leadership going?

While focusing on growth is vital, an overly insular view of growth can lead to an imbalance not only in marketing but across the organisation—and the principal sacrifice could be creativity. Through myriad data points, a trend is subtly emerging that hints at creativity exiting the four walls of the organisation.

Consider the following examples:

The growth of the growth title.

Since 2015, the total number of global c-suite roles with a specific focus on growth, such as Chief Revenue Officers and Chief Growth Officers, increased dramatically (256% and 554%, respectively), and at a much faster rate than CMOs (51%).

The decline of Chief Creative Officers.

After a period of rapid growth between 2011 and 2018 (87% increase), the number of Chief Creative Officers declined 4% over the last four years.

A shift away from creative skill sets and talent.

Analysis of CMO role postings shows the demand for design skills has decreased 41% since 2019, and is now far lower than the demand for analysis skills. This shift is not limited to the c-suite. In nearly every industry, CMOs identify analytical expertise as a more important skill than creative expertise among their highest performing talent.2

Of course, a focus on growth oriented titles doesn’t necessarily mean the organisation no longer values creativity. However, it can be used as a good indication that businesses are more focused on growth now than creativity, substantiating concern for the creative gap. This gap formed at a time when creativity, as part of a connected strategy with modern marketing tools like technology and analytics, should be a competitive differentiator. To fill the gap, we should ascertain how brands can infuse creativity across the organisation, reimagine their businesses, and drive growth. This is something many extraordinary brands are already doing through creative business transformation. To unpack their approach, let’s first consider some creative principles that can set leaders up for success.