B. Bonin Bough, PepsiCo’s global director of social media, is as much a celebrity as any of the headliners at the festivals he sponsors; crowds swarm him after his presentations, seeking a real-life moment with the man who is PepsiCo’s digital handshake across the globe. More than soda, Bough sells a dream of a world made better through collaboration and technology. His team uses new tools for traditional listening: “Mission Control,” a glass room in the center of Gatorade’s marketing floor, displays the drink’s online footprint using real-time data visualizations. But it’s also about impact. In 2010, Bough launched Pepsi Refresh, an online project that funds community-development ideas. When people criticized the program, he responded on blogs and asked for feedback to help shape the project going forward. “It’s like any relationship,” he says. “You have to be honest.”
What does your typical day look like?
No one on the move has a typical day, but I spend the average day connecting with people as much as possible — the more, the better; and the more diverse, the better. When I am in New York at PepsiCo headquarters in Purchase, here is what a day might look like:
7:30 a.m.: Breakfast with a vendor, interesting person, you name it.
8:30 a.m.: Phone call with my team or agency partners during the car ride to PepsiCo headquarters in Purchase, N.Y.
9:30 a.m.: Strategy meetings focused on driving Performance with Purpose or other business priorities.
10:30 a.m.: Team brainstorm on the latest project or initiative.
11:30 a.m.: Agency and team meeting on all of our moving pieces.
12:30 p.m.: Lunch, usually with my team. I never eat at my desk because we have beautiful views of the PepsiCo sculpture garden from our cafeteria. I love to sit by the windows. I think it helps drive creativity.
1:30 p.m.: Conversation with a thought leader in the space or with a digital media reporter/outlet during the car ride back to the city.
2:30 p.m.: Afternoon meetings in the city with agency partners (we have four), vendors and someone really interesting — a digital industry peer, a start-up, a business leader.
6:00 p.m.: Happy hour at a digital networking event, or I try to convene interesting people in the space for a quick drink. I love to bring random groups together. It usually starts with one person and then we build from there.
8:00 p.m.: Happy hour usually spills into dinner, or I have a set plan with someone really interesting (again).
Tell us about your most recent “a-ha moment” and how you reached it.
When we were in the early stages of conceiving Gatorade Mission Control, we were doing ethnographies in newsrooms — seeing how they operate and react to real-time information. We were at the Associated Press talking about their editorial meeting processes when President Obama made an announcement that lit up every screen in the room and completely changed the course of news for the day. We thought then, “What if brands could react to consumer insights and change course that quickly?”
Is there a totemic object in your life that helps you be creative?
“Legos have shaped every aspect of who I am, including hygiene (I used to bathe with my Legos, so I could clean them). They have also shaped the way I think about building ideas and concepts — joining mismatched pieces together and traditional blocks in new and unusual ways.”