WhatsApp Global Head of Marketing Vivian Odior runs global marketing campaigns to help the messaging platform’s more than two billion users celebrate their diversity. Previously director of global marketing at Johnson & Johnson, Odior learned how to effectively push boundaries when addressing people’s identity and representation issues. Among other notable projects, she spearheaded #SeeTheRealMe, a video campaign for skincare brand Clean & Clear with 14-year-old transgender activist Jazz Jennings, which received more than 40,000 views and extensive media coverage. One met with Inc. recently to offer advice on how to create compelling global marketing initiatives. -As Xintian’s Tina Wang said.

How has your upbringing influenced your career?
I was born in Nigeria. My parents have five children, and I’m the second daughter. In our culture, people really hope to get a boy. When I was born, not many people were interested in me, but my parents told me that I should always pursue what I wanted. I studied journalism and advertising at the University of Houston. I told everyone that I was going to be the next Oprah Winfrey and voice opinions on television and influence people. In the process, I took several sales and marketing courses. It introduced me to the idea of consumer psychology and behavior. I realized that storytelling was very important for business development. I knew that brands influenced my perceptions in several ways, so I wanted to be able to do it responsibly.
How has your experience at Johnson & Johnson influenced the development of marketing campaigns today?
That’s where I learned the basics of brand management and how to keep consumers in mind. History is where I could understand how marketing campaigns meet the needs of consumers. I had to talk about body and family care when I worked with Tylenol. I got to talk about motherhood when I worked with the Johnson Baby brand of children. I got to talk to teenage girls about body positivity when I worked for the skin care brand Clean & Clear.

One of the things I do when I approach a campaign or communication from a brand is to think of it as a long-term conversation or chapter as opposed to just one piece of content. In a conversation, you have a beginning, a middle and an end, so I think business owners should think about the architecture of the conversation over a year or a few months and really take users on a journey. First, you lure people to something, and then you present yourself as the solution to something, and you reinforce that conversation by making people very engaged.

What other tips do you have for brands that are trying to engage audiences through storytelling?
Focus on your audience. A lot of people feel, especially in the online world, that everything is for everyone and everything can be reached and accepted by everyone. But your best work happens when you have someone in mind and when you really understand that person holistically and build your business, your stories, your engagement model around that person. Think about what makes the audience laugh, what piques their interest, what appeals to them, and what their reaction will be.

For example, when I worked for a brand of painkillers, it’s one thing to think about someone in pain and what they do when they need to choose painkillers, but it’s also important to think about what makes them happy and what makes them not happyWhat challenges they face in the current zeitgeist.

What initiatives has WhatsApp recently launched to attract a global audience?
I intentionally tell stories that reinforce multiple identities around the world and shed light on lesser-known communities. This February, we announced a partnership with beloved NBA superstar Giannis Antentokounmpo at the 2022 All-Star Game that captured the attention of millions and initiated a connection with multicultural people around the world. WhatsApp told the story of being multicultural and growing up in a Nigerian family, and showed how he could connect to his cultural roots with the app. I also led the Nigerian Independence Day campaign ‘Naija Spirit’ with influential artists like Rema, Tobe Ngigwe and Cuppy, producing the music campaign video. We really appreciate the cultural significance of the company because we serve so many cultures and communities. In doing so, we naturally ensure fairness and equity in the space.