Haas Newsroom




New marketing advice from UC Berkeley’s branding expert David Aaker helps companies during hard economic times



David Aaker started writing his new book, Spanning Silos: The CMO Imperative, before the current financial crisis erupted, but growing marketing silos combined with shrinking budgets and consumer confidence make Aaker’s book more important than ever.


Organizational “silos” defined by products, countries, or functions have evolved over the last century to become barriers to effective and efficient marketing and to the development of strong brands.  Aaker’s book begins, “Spanning silos, is, in my view, the marketing problem of our time.”


Today's silos try to outthink and outmaneuver one another instead of achieving synergy and a consistent marketing message.  Aaker says, “This financial crisis could motivate change that’s desirable in the long run. In the next year or two, companies have to do more with less and protect the ‘brand’. A big part of that is the silos issue.”


Spanning Silos is a handbook for all chief marketing officers working to break down the job’s organizational challenges. Joseph V. Tripodi, chief marketing and commercial officer at The Coca-Cola Company says of Spanning Silos, “David Aaker has brilliantly dissected the CMO role within complex global organizations and laid out a compelling ‘how-to’ manual for success. Aaker offers up pragmatic solutions that will enhance the collaboration and connective tissue between siloed business units. This book will unquestionably turbocharge the impact of the CMO and central marketing organizations worldwide.”


Aaker says CMOs of multinational companies typically last only two or three years on the job because silos make their professional mandate impossible. In his book, Aaker first instructs chief marketing officers how to define his or her role. He breaks the job down into wearing “five potential hats”: facilitator; consultant; service provider; strategic partner; and strategic captain. Aaker’s ability to breakdown the characteristics of each “hat” enables CMOs to optimize his or her strengths and goals.


Other chapters offer a play-by-play guide on how to develop a common planning process for a company’s many silos; adapting the master brand; prioritizing the brands in the portfolio; and creating winning marketing programs.


General Electric Chief Marketing Officer Beth Comstock says, “CMOs are at their best when they connect seemingly unrelated parts of their organization. Drawing on advice from marketers who have transformed integration stumbles into successes. David Aaker presents in Spanning Silos a set of invaluable frameworks and tools any marketer can use to create new value.”

Aaker is E.T. Grether Professor Emeritus of Marketing Strategy at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. He is also Vice Chairman of Prophet, a strategy consulting firm in San Francisco.
Spanning Silos – The New CMO Imperative is Aaker’s 15th book, published by Harvard Business Press, October 2008.


Pamela Tom
Media Relations & Faculty Research PR
Haas School of Business – Leading Through Innovation
University of California, Berkeley