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404: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is Using Stories to Inspire Change with CMO Adam Vasallo

Adam Vasallo is not only a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, but he is also their Chief Marketing Officer. Since joining the organization in 2018, he has been leading his team in generating awareness for the mission, inspiring volunteerism, and bringing the organization’s brand and commitment to youth equity and empowerment to life on national stages. Prior to joining Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Adam spent 11 years at HSN, where he held several senior-level development and marketing roles, including Director of New Business Development and Entertainment Marketing. During his time at HSN, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America came to their offices to recruit mentors, and Adam, being a young professional who knew he wanted to give back, signed up to become a “big” that very same day. Adam is now a two-time Big Brother and is currently matched with his Little Brother, Giovanni.

In this episode, Alan and Adam discuss his experience as a Big, what Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is trying to accomplish through their new national campaign, and the innovative ways they are showing up in the culture. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America was founded in 1904 in NYC as an innovative alternative to the juvenile justice system. Over the past 120 years, it has grown from a small start-up to more than 230 agencies serving more than 5000 communities operating in all 50 states.

Currently, 1 in 6 American kids says they are growing up without a caring mentor. This statistic inspired Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s new campaign, “It takes little to be big.” Created as a marketing platform without an ending, “It takes little to be big” is intended to be versatile, attract volunteers, and resonate with donors. Through market research, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America identified the main barriers people felt in regards to becoming mentors, then designed the campaign to intentionally change the narrative and encourage involvement. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is targeting specific pop culture spaces where mentorship is already happening, like sports, fashion, and music, to partner with existing brands and individuals that help advance their message in innovative ways.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Adam’s experience as a Big and what it’s like to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
  • The innovative ways Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is changing the narrative around mentorship
  • Inspiring volunteers and donors with the “It takes little to be big” campaign and culturally relevant partnerships

Key Highlights:

  • [02:30] Adam’s first experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
  • [04:15] From TV Journalist to CMO
  • [08:40] What is Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and why was it founded?
  • [12:30] “It takes little to be big.”
  • [14:45] Alumni messaging specifically for volunteers and donors
  • [16:10] Barriers to overcome with recruitment and reactivation of volunteers
  • [20:40] Executing authentic cultural connections
  • [28:05] Understanding mentorship as a first-generation American
  • [33:00] Advice to his younger self
  • [34:45] Automations with authenticity and impact storytelling
  • [37:10] Intergenerational sneakerhead subcultures
  • [40:35] Maximizing time and riding the rapid change 

Resources Mentioned: 

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Connect with the Guest: 

  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamvasallo/  
  • https://twitter.com/AdamVasallo 
  • https://twitter.com/BBBSA 

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart: 

Post-Production Credits:

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