The Bonin Bough Effect: Redefining Community Through Marketing

In a recent episode of the podcast "Turning Companies into Communities," we had the opportunity to dive deep into the world of Bonin Bough, an influential figure in the marketing world. His journey, from a marketing executive to a champion for underrepresented communities, is not just inspiring but also a beacon for understanding the power of community in business and society.

From his early days in New York, raised in a family deeply rooted in creativity (his father was a pioneering photographer), Bonin's journey is marked by diversity and overcoming challenges. His extensive career spans roles as a chief digital officer at Pepsi and a chief media and e-commerce officer at Mondelēz International. His creative genius is evident in his approach to marketing and community building, seamlessly blending the two to create impactful campaigns.

The Four Pillars of Community Building

During our conversation, Bonin emphasized the importance of community in both personal and professional spheres. He broke down this concept into four integral components, each demonstrating how interconnected we are and how these connections can be harnessed in a business context.

  1. Connecting with Employees: Bonin believes in the power of creating workplaces where everyone feels they belong. This ethos has been a guiding principle in his career, advocating for spaces where employees are not just workers but integral members of a larger family.
  2. Inter-Employee Relationships: The idea of the workplace as a community space is central to Bonin's philosophy. He advocates for environments where employees can connect beyond work tasks, fostering a sense of belonging and collaboration.
  3. Employee-Customer Connections: Bonin stresses the importance of direct interactions with customers. Understanding their needs and experiences firsthand is invaluable for any business aiming to create a loyal customer base.
  4. Beyond the Company: Extending the sense of community outside the organization, Bonin highlights the importance of employees engaging with the broader community, further enriching their experiences and perspectives.

Creative Fusion of Community and Marketing

Bonin Bough's approach to marketing is not just innovative but also disruptively creative. His projects showcase how brands can authentically engage with communities and make a lasting societal impact.

Investment in Emerging Talent and Events:  Bonin Bough describes his long-term involvement with SXSW, highlighting how he and his team transformed the event by introducing brands like Pepsi. This significant involvement over ten years contributed to the growth and diversity of the SXSW community. By supporting and growing the event, Bough helped shape it into a hub for digital innovation and creativity, making it a fertile ground for community building.

Innovative Initiatives and Technologies: Bough talks about the introduction of unique initiatives like the PepsiCo podcast playground and the PepsiCo Zeitgeist app at SXSW. These initiatives not only provided practical solutions (like charging stations) but also enhanced the event experience by aggregating social media activities and trends.

The oreo was a conversation point allowing individuals to engage with the SXSW community. Such innovative contributions added value to the community, fostering engagement and making the brand an integral part of the SXSW experience.

"We made 3D printed Oreos. Where people would wait two and a half hours to get a printed Oreo based on what was trending on Twitter." 

Supporting Emerging Artists with 'The Patch': Bough shares the creation of 'The Patch' under Sour Patch Kids, which provided housing for emerging unsigned artists in cities like LA, Brooklyn, and Austin. This initiative directly supported the artist community by addressing a practical need (affordable housing) and enabling artists to focus on their creative pursuits. This kind of direct support to the community not only transformed the brand perception but also established a genuine connection with the emerging talent community.

Championing Media Representation: Group Black

Bonin's current venture, Group Black, aims to transform the media landscape by increasing ownership and representation of Black voices.

"Right now, 0.2% of media is black-owned... that means 99% of media is owned by people who don't look like the majority of people who are in the world."

By creating a platform that offers scale and access with sophisticated targeting, Group Black is set to redefine media consumption and production, addressing a significant gap in representation.

Three Lessons on Community from Bonin Interview
Community, as Bonin articulates, is the crucible of growth. To engage authentically is to resonate with the heartbeat of the community. And in the give-and-take of support and ideas, we find the pillars of communal strength.

Lesson 1: The Transformative Power of Community

Community is not just a network but a force for growth and resilience. Embrace the strength of your community for personal development and professional success. The support, inspiration, and collective strength found in communal bonds are unparalleled catalysts for positive change.

Lesson 2: Authentic Engagement with Community Values

True engagement in a community requires understanding and aligning with its core values. Success in both personal and professional realms comes from authentic involvement and contributing in ways that resonate deeply with community members. This authenticity fosters lasting connections and meaningful impact.

Lesson 3: Reciprocity and Networking as Pillars of Community Strength

Communities thrive on the exchange of support, ideas, and resources. Invest in reciprocity and networking within your community. The benefits you reap from a community are often reflective of what you contribute, creating a dynamic of mutual growth and innovation.

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