Empathy is vital to the work Bozoma Saint John does as chief marketing officer for Endeavor, a global leader in entertainment, sports, and fashion that operates in more than 30 countries — and empathy has been an important feature of her previous work with Apple, PepsiCo, Uber, and others.
The marketing trailblazer, named one of the World’s Most Influential CMOs in Forbes’ 2018 list, will share her insights on how brands can use that emotional trait to motivate people to make a difference at Convening Leaders 2020 in San Francisco. Her keynote presentation, “Inspire Social Change Through Brand Storytelling,” is set for 9 a.m. Jan. 7 in Moscone South, Hall C.
Empathy, Saint John said in a 2019 interview for sxsw.com, “is what makes the difference in actually being able to establish impactful connections through storytelling and marketing.”
We can gain more empathy “by filling our spaces with people who are not like us,” she said during her 2019 South by Southwest keynote interview with model Ashley Graham. Surrounding ourselves with diverse people, thoughts, and opinions will only help predict what’s next in pop culture — or which direction the interests of a brand’s audience are headed.
“Start paying attention to what people are talking about,” she said during the keynote, which was recorded, and “what they’re emotionally reacting to.”
Saint John began her career in advertising, working in the early 2000s for Spike Lee’s Spike DDB agency, among others. While at Spike DDB, Saint John pitched a newly solo Beyoncé for a now-famous Pepsi commercial. The idea eventually led Saint John to a job at PepsiCo, where one of her big projects was Beyoncés 2013 Super Bowl halftime performance.
But Saint John got noticed outside her industry in 2016 when, as an Apple Music marketing executive, she presented at Apple Worldwide Developers Conference and invited the audience to sing along to “Rapper’s Delight” with her.
In 2017, Uber hired Saint John to help rebrand the company’s image. She went to work for Endeavor in 2018, and will produce and host the upcoming documentary series, “Bozoma: Being Badass,” on the Starz network.