How Netflix’s new CMO Bozoma Saint John rose to become the biggest ‘badass’ in marketing

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Bozoma Saint John, Netflix’s newly named CMO, has climbed the corporate marketing ranks over 20 years, using her celebrity connections and ability to tie brands like Pepsi and Apple to cultural trends.
She’s also known as unapologetically outspoken and a role model for women of color — notoriously underrepresented in the C-suites of corporations.
Netflix has been synonymous with streaming video, but needs to convince people to keep subscribing as new options from HBO and Disney emerge.
Some warn that a CMO with huge personal stardom can risk overshadowing the very brands they’re hired to promote.
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Shorty after noon on a recent Saturday, Bozoma Saint John appeared on thousands of womens’ computer screens.

It was the inaugural livestream of her event, “The Badass Workshop.” Viewers paid $25 to learn Saint John’s personal and work philosophies.

Ciara’s “Level Up” began playing and in danced Saint John, blue stars glittering off her black jumpsuit.

“I’ve seen all the descriptions of what it looks like to be a global CMO, and it’s not supposed to look like this,” Saint John said through fuchsia lipstick, half her hair pulled into a braided top-knot.

Even when the livestream suddenly crashed, the expert marketer spun it positively: “WE BROKE THE INNANET!” Saint John proclaimed on Instagram.

Saint John, who was named CMO of Netflix in June, has always taken an unconventional path. While the CMO role has become increasingly the domain of data-based geeks, she’s a glamourous executive who goes with her gut and is known for her work tying brands like Pepsi and Apple to cultural trends. Before joining Netflix, Saint John served as a marketing executive for Apple, Uber and Endeavor.

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Netflix has become one of the world’s most popular streaming video players. But it needs to convince people to keep subscribing as new options launch from competitors like HBO and Disney.

Her hire also comes at a moment when Silicon Valley, along the rest of Corporate America, desperately needs more executives of color.

Saint John, with her cultural magic touch, could be just what Netflix needs — but as her own persona grows, some question if she risks overshadowing the companies she serves.

Business Insider spoke to 18 of Saint John’s colleagues, friends, and competitors for this story; Netflix declined to make Saint John available for an interview.

Saint John stood out from others since childhood

Until age 12, Bozoma Saint John lived in Ghana. After the country’s government fell to a military coup in the 1980s, Saint John’s family relocated to Colorado Springs. Now 43, the 5-foot-11 executive says she always stood out among mostly white faces in classrooms and boardrooms.

Over time, Saint John has built a robust list of connections from the worlds of media, politics, entertainment and tech, including Anna Wintour, the Obamas, and Facebook’s Carolyn Everson. A recurring theme of Saint John is the idea of “bringing your whole self to work,” which she frequently evokes in conversations and interviews.

In 2014, Saint John captivated a crowd when she was named to the …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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