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Get ready to meet Adaora Ugokwe–the marketer behind some of the world’s most iconic brands! With over 15 years of experience in the luxury brand industry, Adaora is mixing things up. She’s worked with Hennessy, Perrier, D’Usse, Smartwater, S.Pellegrino, and Belvedere, and has spearheaded countless successful product launches, strategic partnerships, and experiential campaigns. But now, as Sr. Director of Marketing and Brand Strategy at BET, Adaora is bringing her unparalleled expertise to the world of entertainment, leading marketing and strategy for some of the top shows on BET and Vh1. In her interview, she discusses her excitement to be on the entertainment side, telling stories that reach a whole new generation.

What gives me energy outside of work

Nothing better than a great meal with great friends; friends have the power to heal anything. My close circle inspires me in many ways, personally and professionally. They help give me perspective and recharge.”

Every marketer should read…

The Tipping Point and Start with Why are books I go back to often.” 

Future of Marketing

Q: What is one thing coming down the pike for marketing that you are most excited about?

I am really excited about how AI will help marketers become more efficient. There is a lot of hesitation on AI as a tool, but I see it as an additional resource to help tell compelling stories and be more efficient with how we use our time.   

Q: What’s a prediction you have or something that you see evolving in Media/Experiential Marketing over the next few years? 

IRL will have a really big opportunity in the next few years.  More and more people are trying to find their community, and brands have an opportunity to show up and create experiences that speak to and support communities.  Media and experiential budgets will increase as we try to get closer to the consumer in new and interesting ways.

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” or concept do you wish the industry would do away with or evolve?  

The traditional consumer journey thinking needs to evolve! There is no one linear way that a consumer interacts with a brand.  There are so many points of entry, and I think we should consider each one as a possible entry point. We forget that we are also consumers, so we need to think about it from our own point of view as an actual consumer who just happens to be a marketer!

Marketing at BET

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on?  

Switching gears and going into a new industry, I am most excited about learning the process of telling stories via TV–both scripted and unscripted shows. There is an art and science behind it, and understanding how I can blend my luxury marketing experience to the entertainment side to tell stories about not only the show but the cast and broader network. 

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year, and how have you tried to solve it?  

Keeping heritage brands relevant and fresh! With so many new challenger brands and platforms, it’s been interesting to juggle what makes sense for a heritage brand to play in and keep its premium luxury cues while appealing to a new generation that craves something different—trying to find the right brand voice balance between the platforms, plus also knowing which ones does not make sense, no matter how cool and new it is.

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice you’ve ever received?

“Do not chase money and titles, choose jobs based on what you can learn and who you can learn from. The money and the titles will come.  You should either be learning or earning, the sweet spot is to find a job that gives you both!” 

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

Listening and empathy. Being a leader means listening well and empathizing with those you work with. Caring not only about the work you do but the people you work with makes such a difference. 

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.