When rebrands go wrong

(And how to avoid the pitfalls)

Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan salary survey 2010

Salaries in the marketing services sector appear to have hit a plateau, while the gender gap in pay rates among senior marketers seems to have grown. But there is good news for online specialists working for US giants.


As marketers think about the new decade, they could be forgiven for wondering if they are starting 2010 at a lower point than they began the Noughties. Certainly the ten-year trend in salaries suggests that, apart from a handful of roles, there has been little real progress in income terms.

For manager-level marketers and below, average salaries have barely kept pace with inflation. It is only when you get to director level that the supposed growth of the last decade starts to be reflected in typical salaries, with marketing directors reporting an average of £61,600 in 2001 and £78,500 in 2010. (The apparently soaraway incomes for marketing services directors should be treated with care since sample sizes are small.)

At the start of the Noughties, the impact of the Enron and Worldcom scandals along with the overvaluing of dotcom businesses caused economic contraction around the world. Even worse was to follow in September 2001 with the terrorist attacks on New York. It was not until late 2004 that growth really returned and was sustained for a four-year period. Most of that has since been rolled back.

What is striking, however, is the way in which the top 10% of earners have pulled away from their peer group across all main job titles. Marketing managers are a prime example of this polarisation. Those in the top 10% of earners in this year’s survey are taking home twice as much (£84,600) as the average (£42,000). Among brand managers, this spread is even greater – the top 10% earn an average of £83,300, while the overall mean is £40,500. This trend reaches its height with communications managers, where the upmost 10% average £87,000 against a mean of £40,300.

The same effect can be seen among marketing services managers (£85,000 at the top, £43,100 on average) and online marketing managers (£87,500 for the top 10%, £40,900 on average). The extreme spread between the highest paid marketing services executives (£90,000) and the average for that job title (£26,800) and the similar range for online marketing executives (£85,000 for the top 10%, £28,500 overall) is down to a handful of individuals commanding an income way above the usual for their job title.

“Clients want age and experience of digital channels and are surprised at not being able to find candidates “

Conversely, at director level, marketers’ salaries have become more homogenised. The overall average for marketing directors is £78,500, while the top 10% of earners average £100,600. Similarly, among marketing services directors, the average salary is £74,000 and the top 10% get £102,900. For communications directors, the average is £74,900 and the upper band mean is £96,100. In other words, the differential at the top for directors is only about a third more in income terms.

When the previous decade started, some of the job titles that now feature in the salary survey simply did not exist. Online marketing was in its infancy, yet 7% of responses now come from these roles. Similarly, direct marketing and CRM, although well established back in 2001, did not feature in the survey.

This rapid expansion of new marketing categories is leading to problems with recruitment, as one mid-career marketing professional – who does not wish to be named – notes. He says: “There are lots of references in briefs to ‘digital natives’ wanted at senior level. Clients want age and experience of these channels and are surprised at not being able to find candidates.”



None of the online marketers in this survey had started their careers in 2001. Those professionals now setting strategy as marketing or communications directors will probably have started their careers before digital channels were either commonplace or even in place. Yet marketers report that fast-tracking a “digital native” into seniority to fill the gap on online knowledge at the top does not fix the problem. Reverse-engineering digital knowledge into senior staff may be a more sustainable solution.

If the decade was born in uncertainty, it ended in crisis – at least in terms of salaries. According to 41% of respondents, their marketing department reduced its headcount in 2009 (although 24% actually reported an increase in staff).

At nearly two-thirds of companies, the cutback was only between one and four employees. But this still reflects a deep restructuring process, which 66% of marketers say they have lived with during the past 12 months. Nor is the pain over yet, with 45% expecting more changes to their department in 2010.

Pay rises also no longer seem to be the annual cause for celebration they once were. Back in 2001, salaries had risen by an average of 8.7% in the previous 12 months. At the start of 2010, rises of between 2% and 3% have become more typical, depending on job title.

Even less cause for celebration is the gender gap in pay rates. Back in 2001, a female marketing manager earned £36,100 on average, compared to a male colleague’s £40,600. For a marketing director, the pay differential between men and women was just £2,700.

Pay discrimination has got worse since then. Female marketing managers now get nearly £10,000 less each year on average than their male peers. Among marketing directors, being male is worth £17,000 a year more than being female. All this despite an increased female bias in marketing – this year, 61% of respondents were women, whereas in 2001, it was 53%.

The optimism of marketers also seems to have been tempered by the economic climate. Asked what salary rise they expect in the coming 12 months, marketing directors said 2.89% – barely more than the average 2.77% they got in 2009. While brand managers and DM or CRM insight managers are more ambitious, most marketers expect to see less of a salary rise in 2010 than they enjoyed in 2009.

“When you get to £70,000 or £80,000 per year, any more does not make that much of a difference”

Measure of success
This could reflect a shift towards looking at the overall pay and benefits package as a measure of success and seniority, rather than just take-home pay in isolation. As Simon Carter, who in 2009 moved to become marketing director at Fujitsu’s Government Division from his previous role as marketing director at Thomas Cook, puts it: “When you get to £70,000 or £80,000 per year, any more does not make that much of a difference.”

For most marketers in the survey, however, a stable base now seems to hold a lot of attractions. Extras and benefits seem less important to marketers than a fair wage. Getting a high base salary with fewer benefits was scored 4.28 out of 5 – the most favourable score for any aspect of the remuneration package except holiday entitlement, which scored 4.37.

And if you have the right skills base, the best way for a marketer to secure an above average salary would appear to be joining an American-owned organisation. But only if you are a digital native – US companies pay a £14,700 premium on average for online marketing managers and £7,600 for online marketing executives. Other roles need not apply.

Payback time for employers?

Has the automatic yearly pay rise for marketers been brought to an end by economic circumstances? A glance at the increases given during 2009 suggests that average salaries have barely kept pace with inflation, with pay rises ranging between a low of 1.31% and a high of 4.28%.

Even stronger evidence for the end of wage inflation is found in the expectations marketers have for a pay rise in the next 12 months – bar a handful of job titles, most marketers are expecting even less than they got this year. Graduate trainees and marketing assistants can be forgiven for hoping to get 4.67% more pay in 2010, since they tend to be on relatively low wages anyway. Online marketing managers, with an expectation of 4.17%, simply may be reflecting the high demand for their skills.


What is undoubtedly keeping the lid on pay demands is the combination of budget cutbacks with restructuring. When more than six out of ten marketing departments have shed staff, leaving a surplus of skilled professionals competing for available posts, employers have spotted an opportunity to trim recruitment costs.

“Companies are not stupid. They have realised it has moved from a buyer’s to a seller’s market and they are able to pick and choose the people they want,” says Simon Carter, marketing director at Fujitsu’s UK government division.

Carter left Thomas Cook in the first half of 2009 for his current position. In between, he considered four different roles. “The salaries being offered were all 20% lower than what I had left,” he says. This continues a trend noted in last year’s survey when companies were holding out for the right calibre candidate at their chosen price, rather than fighting to fill vacant posts.

In the past, marketers not being offered the right pay rise by their current company knew they could boost their income by moving on. With the whole economy depressed and limited competition for talent, that option no longer seems available to them.

Banking on staying put

Job mobility has been so high in the marketing industry as to become virtually a cliché. Ten years ago, nearly six out of ten marketers intended to move on within a year and that rate of change continued for most of the decade. It has taken the most serious of economic conditions to shift the picture so that the majority (55%) expect to remain where they are, at least for 12 months.

Not surprisingly, the less senior the position, the more likely an imminent job change becomes. Online marketing executives have the itchiest of feet, with two-thirds planning to move in 2010. Just over half of marketing services executives also plan to enter the job market this year.


The promise of better financial remuneration is the lure for 27% of those who intend to change jobs. But the second most common reason, according to 26%, is a new challenge.

But what if your career path is within the same company? Paul Say, who became head of marketing at First Direct during 2009, has spent the majority of his career within HSBC. But as he points out, that does not mean he has been doing the same job all that time.

“The great thing about the group is that it is such a large organisation working in so many territories that, as a marketer, there is always a fresh challenge,” he says. Prior to First Direct, he was head of marketing for HSBC International, promoting services for expatriates out of Jersey. Before that, he  worked further offshore in Hong Kong, although he actually started out at First Direct.

One advantage of staying with the same companies is the pension and the shares all follow you, Say explains. The bank also provides assistance with tax planning and relocation costs. Not that an internal job market is the easy option, he argues: “The selection criteria and recruitment process employed is as rigorous and challenging as for an external opportunity.”


The Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Salary Survey has been acknowledged for 28 years as an authoritative guide to pay and benefit conditions and expectations in the marketing industry. As well as acting as a benchmark to marketers of their earning power, it is a valuable tool for employers who wish to recruit and retain marketing professionals.

An online, self-completion survey was run by Marketing Week between 2 and 9 November 2009 and analysed by Fusion. A total of 1,724 surveys were completed and used to produce the figures in this study.

Marketing managers made up 38% of the sample, with marketing services executives 13% and marketing directors 9%.

Brand/product managers accounted for 7% of responses, communications managers 5%, online marketing managers 4% and marketing services managers 4%. Graduate trainee marketing assistants, online marketing executives and market research managers each accounted for 3% of responses. All other job titles were 2% or less of the sample.

The sample was split by gender with 39% of responses from men and 61% from women. The age profile was 9% under 26, 30% aged 26 to 30, 25% aged 31 to 35, 17% aged 36 to 40, 10% aged 41 to 45, 5% aged 46 to 50 and 4% over 51.



Key stats

Average salaries for marketing directors£78,500
Average salaries for marketing directors have risen to £78,500 in 2010 from £61,600 in 2001. Other job titles have seen less of an increase – for marketing managers, salaries in 2010 are £42,000 on average against a 2001 mean of £38,100.

Entry level salaries£25,500
Entry level salaries have stayed relatively flat across the decade. An assistant brand manager now receives an average of £25,500, up from £21,100 ten years ago, while a graduate trainee marketing assistant (GTMA) now starts on £20,600, up from £17,300 in 2001.

The top 10% £84,600
The top 10% of manager-level marketers are earning twice the average at a mean salary of £84,600. Brand managers make £83,300, marketing services managers receive £85,000, a communications manager earns £87,000 and an online marketing manager gets £87,500.

The pay gap by gender £17,000
The pay gap by genderamong marketing directors is a massive £17,000. Women continue to suffer pay discrimination. Female marketing managers earn £38,500 on average, compared to £48,200 for men.

Salaries for those working for the biggest spenders £73,800
Salary does not necessarily correlate with the size of marketing budget, except among online marketing managers. Those working for the biggest spenders earn £73,800 on average, compared to £32,800 at the lowest-spending advertisers.

American ownership £ v $
American ownership contributes a sizeable salary premium for marketing services directors and online marketing managers, but does not make a significant difference to other job titles.

Biggest reported pay rise during 2009 4.28%
Pay rises during 2009 were modest all round. The biggest reported rise on average was for DM and CRM insight managers at 4.28%, while GTMAs got the lowest increase at 1.31%. Most marketers expect even less of a pay rise in 2010.

Percentage enjoying a contributory pension 61%
Pension contributions are the most commonly-enjoyed benefit (61%), while just over half (52%) of marketers get private medical insurance. Bonuses are only enjoyed by one third of marketers.

Number expected to leave their jobs 42%
Job mobility among marketers is still high, with 42% expecting to leave their current post during 2010. But this is significantly down from the 58% intending to move on within 12 months in 2001.

Number planning job change to increase pay 27%
The main reason for changing jobs is financial remuneration (27%), although this is closely followed by the desire for a new challenge (26%). The most appealing sectors to move to are considered to be marketing consultancy (33%) or travel and leisure (30%).

Readers' comments (1)

  • In our organisation it has become clear that the managers' salaries have grown but the executives / assistants salaries have become static. There is now at least a £13k gap between salaries (executive to manager), this makes it impossible for anyone to make the jump. Simon Carter's salary comment is quite offensive to those at the bottom of the salary scale where a £2-3k salary increase would make a big difference.

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