Former CMO at Beats by Dre
Former VP Marketing at Apple
Omar Johnson is the former CMO at Beats by Dre and former VP Marketing at Apple. At Beats Electronics, Johnson was responsible for brand development, advertising, retail experience, entertainment/sports marketing, and digital marketing for all global brand marketing and advertising efforts.
As the former Chief Marketing Officer at Beats by Dre and former VP of Marketing at Apple, Omar Johnson has created strong consumer connections with the brands he’s represented. He drove explosive growth at Beats, leading groundbreaking campaigns with celebrities such as LeBron James, Chris Rock, and Eminem – helping to take a $20 million company to a $1.1 billion dollar global icon and category leader.
Johnson drove explosive growth in the headphone category through groundbreaking campaigns including #ShowYourColor Solo Campaign, Powerbeats starring LeBron James and The Pills featuring Chris Rock and Eminem. He used “ambush marketing” and influencers to expand the brand—giving athletes and musicians free headphones at private company parties—which helped turn Beats into the headphone of choice for the best musicians and athletes in the world.
Previously, Johnson led innovative marketing programs for international brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, and Campbell Soup. As an advertising lead at Nike, Johnson produced some of Nike’s most memorable TV commercials including “Rise,” starring LeBron James, “All Together Now,” featuring Kobe Bryant, and “The Most Valuable Puppets”.
Johnson also built the Nike+ sports music platform, establishing Nike’s first revenue-generating relationship with record labels. Johnson and his team created an industry-first sports music program with Universal, Interscope, Sony, Capitol, Def Jam and more than 25 independent labels. This collaboration sold +5 Million tracks and deepened the connection between music and sports.
Johnson is from Brooklyn, NY. He received a BS in Biology and Chemistry from Georgia State University and an MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Adweek named Johnson a “Brand Genius” in 2013, and Business Insider named him one of the “Most Innovative CMOs” in 2016.
Big companies spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns to drive brand awareness, but Omar Johnson was able to make Beats headphones a viral social media phenomenon and an international success on almost no budget. Johnson learned the key to building great brand awareness was to listen, be curious, and to use truth and emotion to connect to the audience. In this talk, Johnson will share his experiences of creating emotional connections to a brand through innovative and unconventional marketing techniques.
Marketing is about ideas and authenticity. When Omar Johnson took over the marketing for Beats by Dre, he created a flat organization style where the best idea could win. He encouraged everyone to contribute ideas from the newest member of the team to the oldest. Instead of heavy data analysis, his team would talk to actual users of Beats in the streets in order to find why and how people were using their headphones. The result was a billion-dollar company and category leader. In this talk, Omar shares techniques from his experience on how to develop the best ideas.
When Beats by Dre headphones came into the market they faced competition from more established market leaders like Bose. As the new kid on the block, Omar used new marketing techniques to gain market share, from giving well-known athletes free headphones to developing hangouts for Olympic athletes to drive buzz and desire for Beats headphones. In this talk, Omar shows how your company can incorporate guerilla techniques to gain market share.
When Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine created Beats in 2006, their goal was to create a great-sounding headphone. However, it wasn’t until Omar Johnson came along that Beats became the most popular headphone for athletes and musicians. Johnson was able to turn a 180 million dollar company into a billion-dollar enterprise through unconventional marketing tactics and his brand of insight, idea, execution and result. In his highly engaging talk, Johnson shows how he used curiosity and creativity to turn Beats headphones from a commodity product into an experience and an international brand.