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Creating Business Rock Stars


From Oreos to Gatorade, Bonin Bough is the master marketer behind the rapid growth of some of the world’s most-loved brands in kitchens across the country. During an Ideas Festival at the 2021 ALTA SPRINGBOARD, the award-winning marketing executive provided tips to help companies create their own breakthrough “communications experience.”

The former chief media officer of Mondelez International, Bough also is an author and host of CNBC’s “Cleveland Hustles.” He is an inductee of the Advertising Hall of Achievement and can be found on lists such as Fortune’s “40 under 40,” Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business and Ebony’s Power 10.

Bough discussed how this generation is the most distracted society in history. Because of this, text marketing has emerged as a popular and effective digital marketing trend. Most consumers prefer texting with businesses, and text messages are 35 times more likely to be read than emails.

Even churches have caught on, as Bough shared a sign that read, “Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him.”

One vital investment companies should focus on is talent. Bough said people are more important for growth versus data and technology.

“Talent is the single largest determinant for growth of any organization. But what has happened, is that every time there has been a change—technology or consumer—there’s training to learn about the technologies.”

Companies are always trying to find the next rock star and want an immediate solution to a problem. Unfortunately, companies often don’t look internally.

“The silver bullets are the people working at your organization today,” according to Bonin.

He said companies need to build a culture where people believe they are rock stars. This starts by developing organizational learning—the process of creating, retaining and transferring knowledge within a company. This can drive the cultural impact a company wants, according to Bough.

“Showcase talent and give them the credit they deserve for successes, he added.

Bough shared a story of how Oreo had become irrelevant because advertising remained the same for decades. While there were many moving parts, he said a Facebook campaign suggested by a novice marketer provide to be a game-changer for the cookie company.

“Allow people the space and culture to know that failure is part of the journey,” Bough said. “Encourage them to be their own entrepreneurs. Small change can have a significant impact on a large organization.”


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