Exclusive Q&A With John Costello, President, Global Marketing and Innovation of Dunkin’ Brands, Our 2016 Industry Legend!


Last week we held our annual Ad Person of the Year event, where we celebrated not just one esteemed honoree, but six influential advertising and marketing executives in five categories, including: Marketer of the Year, Industry Legend, New Yorker, at Startup and a Young Pro.
We sat down with our Industry Legend John Costello, President, Global Marketing and Innovation, Dunkin’ Brands and asked him a few questions about what makes a better leader in the industry, what people coming into the industry should know and more. Let’s see what he had to say…
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What are the most useful resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain perspective on becoming a better leader?

To become a better leader, my advice is to follow the old rule of treating people like you would like to be treated. It almost always works. The second is to be very observant of all the leaders around you, both good and bad. You can learn from both.  But most of all, be authentic and be yourself.  None of us is perfect, but I’ve found that people and teams will generally respect an authentic leader who is trying his or her best.

As an industry what should we stop doing? What should we start doing? 

I think we need to do two things: First, we need to bring more diversity into our industry. I’m a big believer that the best work is done when your workforce reflects our consumer. Second, we need to find the resources to attract and develop more new talent, as we are in a people-driven industry. Finally, we need to keep innovating.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking in your organization? 

Surround yourself with people who are smarter, better and more creative than you are, and help them achieve their best work. Then, work to create a culture that encourages people to try new things and take risks. Learn from your mistakes and celebrate your successes.

What was the last experiment you ran and what did you learn from it?

Our Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins teams are constantly trying new things, whether it’s a new product, a new advertising idea or a new mobile initiative. One of the most interesting things we’ve learned is the impact we see when we combine traditional media like TV, radio, print or out-of-home with new digital, mobile and social initiatives. We’re seeing real synergy.

What one thing do you anticipate will affect your business or industry in the next two years that could have an impact on your marketing? 

I believe that the continued growth of mobile will be the most transformative marketing tool many of us will see in our careers. While the potential is huge, advertising in this environment is different. Mobile enables us to build a true one-to-one dialogue with our consumers, so advertising here needs to be more like a conversation and less like a traditional ad.

What do you feel are the benefits of working in your industry that you would relay to young people coming in to your industry today?

I started out as an engineer before I discovered advertising and marketing. I think one of the most exciting aspects of our industry is its combination of art, data and science, and the power of a big idea to transform a brand and sometimes an entire company.

Advertising is a people-driven business, and a young person can really have an impact very early in their career. And finally, while we all work very hard, it’s a fun business with a lot of interesting people. I cant’t think of a more stimulating or rewarding industry or a more interesting group of people with whom to work.