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Carole Irgang

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TRENDSETTERS: IBM's Carole Irgang Looks Ahead to the 2025 Marketing World

The Internationalist Trendsetters is written by Deborah Malone, founder of The Internationalist.

Ask Carole Irgang about her favorite business topic, and she'll tell you: marketing transformation.  It should come as no surprise to those who know her, as today her role at IBM is working with the iX team to accelerate growth by helping Fortune 100 companies to future-proof and transform marketing.  She has a long history as a change-maker and growth accelerator having held marketing leadership roles at GoDaddy, Kraft Foods, and successfully managed her own marketing consultancy, Red Shoes Marketing for clients like Avon, J&J, Godiva and LG Electronics

Interestingly, while everyone today is trying hard to navigate the challenges of 2020, Carole Irgang and her team at IBM are looking at how marketing and marketing leadership will change by 2025. "Emerging technologies, the explosion of data and analytics and shifting consumer preferences will lead us to a very different 2025," she says.  "Plus, 84% of CMOs suspect their business models and ways of working are threatened as organizations evolve from product-led to experience-led, so change is inevitable and that 's a good thing."

Among the issues leading to a significantly different 2025 marketing business are:

  • Hyper-connected, digital-first consumers
  • Increasing shift to addressable, programmatic media inventory
  • More direct consumer relationships driven by more digital native brands 
  • Changing agency and consulting landscape
  • Continuing growth and complexity in the digital ecosystem

Carole Irgang believes that the role of the marketer will continue to expand dramatically in scope, complexity and leadership—all in the pursuit of driving growth.  To be successful, marketers must become multi-disciplinary experts who juggle several responsibilities.  She adds, "The 2025 marketer will not only need to be the voice of the brand and a creative leader, but everything else, including representing the consumer voice, being a digital visionary, the customer owner, an experience leader, an efficiency driver, a data expert, an analytics expert and a marketing tech expert." And that's just the beginning.  "Because brands will be better equipped to deliver the demand for  hyper-personalized experiences at scale and optimize for ROI -- thanks to artificial intelligent (AI)—organizations that win will need integrated platforms that redefine how their teams collaborate and capture value.  Or in other words, those who win will deliver against a deep emotional connection with their consumers."  She adds, "Don't forget that 29% of a CMO's budget was spent on marketing technology last year—the single largest area of investment and potential differentiation for peers."

As a result, marketers will need to shift to become "Optimizers."  This means moving toward a dynamic partnership model focused on innovation, flexibility and impact; moving at the speed of insights by mobilizing capabilities through robust collaborative tools; embracing modern approaches to skills, teams and automation that drive new ways of working.

She understands that getting ready for this journey to 2025 will take vision and goals, but this business and societal evolution also places the CMO at the center of reinvention and change for the organization.  "There's a new renaissance afoot for marketing and the change will be scary at times as we move into unfamiliar territories, but the effort will place marketing in a renewed place of importance to driving an organization's growth agenda.  I find it all very exhilarating." 

Carole Irgang joined IBM as an Executive Partner working with the iX team to accelerate growth by helping Fortune 100 companies future-proof and transform marketing. The iX team is creating ground-breaking customer experiences that live at the intersection of technology, strategy & world class creativity. 

Prior to joining IBM, Carole worked as SVP Global Brand Marketing at GoDaddy leading the charge in building a new customer-first marketing approach helping to accelerate business results. And with just 9 weeks, Carole built, developed and executed a best ever, business building Super Bowl campaign from start to finish. Carole also successfully managed her own marketing consultancy, Red Shoes Marketing, helping Fortune 500 brands stand out in today’s cluttered marketplace. Of particular note were the brand reinventions for Avon and Godiva, driving digital transformation for J&J and Bliss Spas and creating all new brands for LG Electronics and Serta Simmons Bedding.  Prior to launching her own company, Carole was the SVP of Integrated Marketing Communications at Kraft Foods. Leading an aggressive change agenda, Carole created the first ever Marketing Innovation Fund, Digital Hot House Program, Innovation Immersions and led the corporate efforts to re-brand Kraft resulting in a new “Make Today Delicious” global positioning. 

Carole started her career on the agency side of the business and rose to Executive Vice President at WPP’s Grey Worldwide & MediaCom where she helped some of the world’s largest marketing companies like P&G, 3M, and Novartis accelerate their growth.