She Runs It Recap: Be authentic or else

Written by Sylvia Knight, Associate Director, Digital Investment, Mindshare USA

In 2019, consumers are taking control of the media landscape—from the content consumed, to the stories being brought to life, and more. She Runs It’s “What’s Hot in Marketing, Media and Tech” event last week focused its discussions with marketers, brands, and agencies around how they have navigated this new and ever-evolving landscape.

The biggest takeaway: It’s important for brands to stand for something. When they stand for something, they can create a moment of curiosity for consumers encouraging them to want to interact with the brand.

Here were some of the key points and implications for marketers to keep in mind:

Experience > Features

  • Experiences are now status symbols and used by millennials to portray various lifestyles.
  • During her keynote, EY’s Janet Balis talked about how buying and shopping have slowly become two different activities. Artificial Intelligence has started to “buy” and curate products for consumers. Slowly consumers will start to reach a point where they’re only shopping for select products and services that help them express who they are.
  • This was reiterated during the “Direct to Consumer: A New Conversation” panel as well. When storytelling is at the center of the brand’s media, then you are no longer trying to sell the consumer on a product but giving them an experience and intention.

Collaboration is King (or Queen)

  • In a panel moderated by Mindshare’s own Rachel Lowenstein, one of the key discussion points was this: When creating campaigns targeted to underrepresented audiences, it’s important to collaborate with groups who are actually immersed in the culture to avoid missteps, appropriation, and backlash. For example, when Bonobos launched the second iteration of their #EvolvetheDefinition campaign, they consulted male feminist alliance groups to ensure they were speaking to men properly about masculinity.
  • And as discussed in another panel: When working with publishers, Prudential Financial’s in-house agency is constantly briefing partners on their brand to help them understand the direction the company is heading. Once an opportunity arises that aligns with a brand, publishers then have a better understanding of the brand and are able to submit better proposals. 

Be Authentic or Else 

  • As ADP’s Jamie Kalfus put it, before taking on an issue or a cultural moment, a brand must ask, “Do we have the authority to speak on this?” And, ask the questions, “Am I extracting a real truth for my brand or riding a cultural wave and promoting myself?”
  • To avoid being tone deaf, brands need to know how to exist in this world and create authentic lives in the values they are portraying (i.e. ensuring there are women in power at a company when speaking on women empowerment).
  • With the democratization of data, consumers are forcing brands to show they stand behind their claims and messages to ensure they are “walking the walk.” When done correctly, it’s been shown that inclusion can drive business results. 

Finally, two overall key takeaways:

  • A must-read coming out of this event is Silent Rise of the Female Economy.
  • Never forget that media should amplify both the voice and message of a brand for the consumer, helping them create deeper and more meaningful connections.