It’s far from an understatement to call Bozoma “Boz” Saint John a marketing rock star and pop-culture sensation. Forbes named her to its 2018 list of the world’s 50 most influential chief marketing officers; Saint John was one of 23 newcomers to the annual ranking.
Among her high-profile stints in marketing: head of the music and entertainment marketing group at Pepsi-Cola North America and head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes.
In June 2017, Saint John took on her highest-profile — and perhaps highest-stress — job as the first-ever chief branding officer at ride-sharing service Uber. Around the same time, the Uber brand was taking a lot of heat. With a cloud of controversy hanging over the company’s toxic culture, including allegations of sexual harassment and complaints about a lack of workforce diversity, co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick bowed to pressure and exited Uber as Saint John was still learning her way around the office.
But just a year after joining Uber, Saint John jumped to entertainment conglomerate Endeavor to become chief marketing officer.
Saint John will bring her vast marketing experience to the stage Oct. 8 when she delivers a keynote speech at the DMA &THEN marketing conference.
As CMO of Endeavor, Saint John oversees marketing for a portfolio of brands like talent agencies WME (William Morris Endeavor) and IMG, the UFC mixed martial arts league, the Professional Bull Riders organization and the Miss Universe organization.
“I want to establish what Endeavor means. What does it mean as a brand, as a company?” Saint John told CNBC in June 2018.
Why did she switch from Uber to Endeavor?
“I follow my heart, I follow my gut,” Saint John said.
In an email to Uber employees, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi thanked Saint John for her work at the troubled company.
“Boz joined Uber when the company was hurting and when our brand was in a tough spot. From forming partnerships with pop culture moguls to helping sign deals with major sports teams, she has brought enthusiasm and spirit to everything she has done over the last year,” Khosrowshahi wrote. “She has been a fantastic ambassador and evangelist for our brand, and we’re in a better place because of her vision and her work.”
Now, she’s applying the same brand of ambassadorship and evangelism to Endeavor.
In the CNBC interview, Saint John said she came aboard at Uber during a “very troubling time” and marched ahead to establish a new “narrative” for publicity-battered Uber.
“I think the culture [at Uber] is much better. It’s on its path, it’s on its way to being great – it’s not there yet,” Saint John told CNBC. “But I do believe in Dara and the rest of the leadership team, who are working very hard to fix everything.”
Saint John said she wasn’t involved in creating an ad campaign featuring Khosrowshahi that’s aimed at righting the Uber ship, but she said she found the ads “truthful” and “sincere.”
She told CNBC that she didn’t mind working at a company that had become the “poster child” for corporate culture run amok.
“But the secret is that everything is wrong everywhere. We’ve got to move the agenda forward in all of the companies, not just at Uber. For me, progress isn’t happening fast enough,” Saint John said.
At the BET Awards in June 2018, Saint John said it’s important for entertainers and entertainment executives to use their platforms to advance various agendas.
“The entertainment industry has always been powerful. I just wish that more of us would use our voice to push agendas forward. When we all yell, it’s actually heard. I want us to do that more,” she told The Grio website. “Let’s not be afraid of the opinions or what it looks like. Let’s use our power for good.”
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