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A decade ago, it would have been hard to imagine blue-chip companies clamoring to have rap and R&B stars market their products. But that was before Steve Stoute made it fashionable—and more importantly profitable.

“Steve revolutionized the way brands partner with celebrities to connect with consumers,” said James Edmund Datri, president and CEO of the American Advertising Federation, which last year inducted Stoute into the Advertising Hall of Achievement, the highest honor in the industry for execs under 40.

As the founder and CEO of marketing firm Translation LLC, Stoute, now 40, has helped clients like Wrigley’s, Reebok and Hewlett-Packard tap into the lucrative youth market by marrying trendsetting entertainers like Jay-Z and Kanye West with the often button-up brands.

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