In the past ten years, Bozoma Saint John has held senior marketing positions at some of the most influential companies in America, (Pepsi, Apple Music), was hired as Chief Marketing Officer for Uber to help them grapple with one of the pre-IPO company's most challenging times ... oh, and became a mom ... and a widow.
There's little question Saint John's social media handle of "BadAssBoz" is spot on, especially now as CMO at Endeavor, the consortium of agencies spawned from William Morris which includes such varied and expanding services as OTT and Podcast networks, Miss Universe to the Professional Bullfighter's Association. Her pinned tweet references a Nietzsche quote about rising from the ashes, and in my recent interview with her as the keynote at the Moxie-hosted FutureX Live conference, it's clear that theme is apropos to not just her own rise and rise, but to her determination to elevate the brands she represents and the people around her.
Episode 36 of our MediaVillage podcast lets you listen here to the live recording of the 45-minute conversation where we delved into how brands navigate the changes in how we communicate to the use of AR and VR to engender trust. What should Disney do about their characters roaming Times Square or Hallmark do about fan-created podcasts? Saint John discusses the Beauty Mark campaign from CVS, the true beauty of client Chrissy Teigen, the imperative of diversity and humanity in tech, and (spoiler alert) if she'll run for office. (For more of the humanity in tech you'll also hear which avatar I'm crushing on these days.) Please share this episode, and subscribe to Insider InSites anywhere you download your podcasts: Apple, Spotify, iHeartRadio, GooglePodcasts, Stitcher and TuneIn.
With thanks to Publicis Media for inviting me to facilitate it, here are snippets from our amazing conversation:
Doing it All: "It's not even so much about doing it all or whatever your concept of all is, but can you live your fullest life? Can you do everything that you want to do, that you desire to do? It's not about what other people put on you, but what it is that you actually want to fulfill."
Personal Ethos: "I don't want to settle for what has been given to me or what is expected. In Silicon Valley, or in pop culture in general, all of the narratives that we've heard about people of color or about women -- or put any label on it -- I don't want to settle for any of those descriptions. I want to level up."
Brand Trust: "I'll use my experience at Uber, which is that one of the biggest pain points was about trust, whether or not I feel safe getting into this vehicle with this person that I do not know and that I will get to the destination that I require or desire. In order to do that you have to build tech around making sure that that trust is not broken and that I feel safe. Then how am I going to communicate that to you so that you understand the depth of the tech."
Influencers: "Do we believe them? If we do then we're going to engage and therefore I'm going to spend my money, I'm going to spend my time in engaging with this experience. That's what I'm doing every day at Endeavor. It's how to make sure that the conversation between these pop culture industries is an authentic one and that we're serving the good of a wider community and a wider audience while utilizing the people who are rising to the top as stars in those industries to take the message forward."
Privacy/Customization: "It's a very interesting sort of philosophical and psychological exercise to understand where the lines are ... and as time goes on our ideas about those boundaries keeps being pushed. People become more and more annoyed that you don't know what they like ... and therefore if you don't service that to them, they think you're not paying attention. Therefore, they no longer trust you. It's a very complicated conversation."
Humanity: "Whether it's in tech or it's in the human, we want to see the places in which the seams don't all fit together, where something happens so that we understand that none of us are actually perfect. What are the qualities within the aspiration of that brand or that character that we can draw from to again make our own lives a little better?"
Real Life: "I want to change the stories of some of the things that we've been told that are lies. I want to change the story of the narrative of Africa and the fact that it's been so terribly placed in our cultural framework as a place of destitution. It's really a place of wealth and great beauty. So how do we change those narratives, and can we do that in spaces that perhaps don't even seem right on the nose, you know? Can we get a sub-Saharan African Miss Universe? Hell yeah, we can. Because they're cute as hell. I might enter the competition my damn self."
Diversity and Inclusion in Tech: "It's not a political statement. It's literally like, 'Can we get more people who have varied backgrounds to be involved in the development, decision-making and therefore implementation of all of these products across everything?' It will make it so much better and so much richer and we'll have more depth in our experiences because we have more people who are a part of it. I love meeting people and talking to people of varied backgrounds than me. You learn something".
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