In the conversation below, Ukonwa talks about the Emerging Creative Award, as well as Prime Video and Amazon Studios’ ongoing commitment to reflecting the diverse communities it serves through content and marketing.
Muse: What kind of work are you hoping to see in submissions for the Emerging Creative Award?
Ukonwa Ojo: Our brand slogan is: “See where it takes you”. We believe we are unique at Prime Video. We are able to bring people into the world of entertainment, but the entertainment doesn’t stop at the credits. If you like a song, you can keep streaming it on Amazon Music. If you like any of the outfits from Making the Cut, you can buy it from Amazon.com. With X-Ray you can go much deeper and see other places an actor has appeared, and really go down the entertainment rabbit hole, and we love that. So we’re looking for emerging creatives to help us with our 2022 holiday campaign that tells this story: when you come to Prime Video, there are so many places you can go and you can deepen the immersion of the experience of entertainment.
We can’t wait to see all the different ways they’ll do it. We seek them out to inspire us. We seek them out to expose us to things we’ve never seen before and ways to tell the story we’ve never thought of before. They can immerse themselves in the world of Prime Video and hopefully inspire them to tell some really cool and engaging stories for the holidays.
What attracted you to your partnership with Clio Entertainment?
Clio is such an amazing brand and really sets a high mark for creative excellence, and not just in entertainment. I was a judge at Clio before joining entertainment, and I’ve always had incredible respect for the brand and its mission to raise the bar for creativity in the industry. So Clio felt like a great partner to us when we decided, as an organization, to say, “We don’t just want to diversify our current team, but we also want to make sure we’re creating a pipeline of talent. that could potentially serve Prime Video in the future, and more importantly, serve the entire entertainment industry.”
What are the overall goals of Prime Video and Amazon Studios to create a more inclusive world of entertainment?
The most important thing to us is that our work, content and everything we are a part of reflects the communities we serve. We want to make sure it reflects not only the people on camera, but also the people behind the camera, who are an integral part of the Prime Video organization, as well as the creators we work with, the agencies with which we work. with, the creators who partner with us to create marketing as well as content.
At Amazon, we talk about being obsessed with the customer, not the competition. And while we’re looking at the makeup of our customers, we want to make sure that we’re highlighting content that reflects their lived experiences and communities. And that also needs to be reflected in the teams working on those marketing assets and creative campaigns. We want to make sure that when they see it, they know that the people behind are aware of their lived experience, and that is reflected in the ideas and in the work. And when we produce work, it resonates with them and connects with them emotionally.
We also want to create a pipeline, so it’s not just something for the leadership that’s out there today, but making sure the next generation gets the skills they need and the experiences they need, so that the industry can continue to be inclusive and live beyond that single point in time.
Is this a business goal or just the right thing to do? Or a combination of both?
It’s a combination of both. This is of course a business objective, because ultimately the way we measure our success as a company is the number of customers who choose us around the world. It is therefore more likely for us to connect emotionally with them, to resonate with them, to be relevant to them, if we understand the ideas that have meaning in their lives and their entertainment choices and that we take into account in the work we do. We want team members who are part of that community, who naturally understand what those communities are looking for, who can reflect a lot of nuances that we may not be aware of, but who can sit at the table and ensuring we ask the right questions, choose the right creators, use the right language, the right music, and the right visual design elements that will appeal to the diverse communities we serve.
But it’s also the right thing to do to ensure that every member of our company and community has access to the skills and tools they need to live their ambition and dream of being creators in the industry. entertainment.
With shows like The Underground Railroad and others, you’re used to amplifying voices that might not otherwise be heard. Do you feel like you are already seen as a leader in this space through your programming?
We have always wanted to change the narrative of the stories that are told. Shows like Them, The Underground Railroad, With Love and Harlem, these are stories of many underrepresented communities that we can show in 240 countries around the world. There’s so much power in there. In addition to the content, we want to make sure that the people working on the marketing and creative who bring that content to the communities share the same lived experiences and the same passion.
As a Black CMO yourself, how personally invested and passionate are you in this vision of a more equitable and inclusive entertainment industry?
Obviously I’m proof, and other CMOs of color are proof, that you can be incredibly successful as a business when you have people on the team who come from different backgrounds, who allow businesses and brands to see things from a different perspective and allow community members to connect with the brand in different ways. We want to create more opportunities for creators of color to be part of our marketing, our organization and the entertainment industry, whether with us or with any other company. If this initiative inspires more people of color to be part of the entertainment industry and the creative industry, we believe it paves the way for greater diversity of thought, greater diversity in storytelling, which that our customers and our communities will end up enjoying.
You have worked in many different industries. Do you feel like you have a stronger voice and a bit more power in your current role, given the cultural resonance of entertainment?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a louder voice. Although I have been part of different industries, the human who makes choices in all these industries is the same. Me, as a customer, I’ll make a beauty choice, then I’ll make an entertainment choice, then I’ll make a food choice, and it’s the same human. So what I’ve always challenged myself to do – and it’s one of the things that drew me to Amazon – is to have incredible passion and empathy for the end customer and to really understand his background and how he makes the choices he makes. If I understand that, then I can translate that in a way that transcends geographies and industries.
I was very lucky that my inherent curiosity and empathy for the customer allowed me to have a career in different industries. The transition to entertainment has been great. I had a lot to learn when I arrived, but I was also surprised that there was a lot I didn’t have to learn, because, as I said, this human was the same when I transitioned from one industry to another. I thought a lot of things would resonate, we tested and learned that it was really resonant. And we’ve had a lot of successful team launches because of that. So, yeah, great learning, lots of opportunities to partner with my team and benefit from their decades of experience, but also to bring a fresh perspective and give them the opportunity to see things in a also different. I think that balance has been great for the Prime Video business.
It’s a good point that it’s not just an Amazon thing. This is an industry-wide issue that needs improvement. Are you encouraged by recent events regarding diversity in the industry?
Of course, I am proof of some of the changes that are happening. You don’t see many CMOs of color in the entertainment industry. So I think that’s the start of change, especially when you think about the communities of color that participate in the entertainment industry. It is normal that you have voices around the table who represent these communities. How do we make sure across the channel that we’re creating content that communities value, and we really strive to make sure it reflects the diversity of the community we live in and love? This will only make our stories more relevant and enjoyable for our audience.