Lani serves as the Chief Operating Officer and News Director at The American Genius, a national news organization dedicated to business news, insights, tools and inspiration for small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals. She has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Texas and currently serves on the Advisory Board at St. Edwards' Bill Munday School of Business. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.
AM: In your business news reporting, you’ve seen the rise and fall of different feminist advertising campaigns. What are some notable trends you’ve seen?
LANI: The level of awareness that companies have now is heightened as social media has forced brands to listen to more than just an ad exec who tells them something will be a hit with consumers. Campaigns that were insensitive were still common even as recently as the early 2000s; now, stakeholders brands answer to are not just the literal stakeholders, but consumers. It's tougher because companies have to think thoroughly about their marketing efforts, but they're rewarded wildly when their campaign is a hit.
Dove is a great example of a brand that has used female empowerment as a rallying cry, rather than a gimmick, and they've improved their market share and brand loyalty as a result.
AM: As a conscientious female consumer, do you feel feminist ads work? Why or why not?
LANI: Most of the time, feminist ads don't work on me because they typically feel like a gimmick as they feign "wokeness." Every now and then, if the message is aligned with the brand, I am interested, but typically it only acts to affirm my current purchasing choices, not earn new business.
AM: One of your philosophies championed at your news site The American Genius is that “a well-informed professional means better served consumers.” What does that mean for advertising professionals trying to better talk to women?
LANI: Our founder has always asserted that the more information consumers have at their fingertips, the better the business world operates. The more a professional has their finger on the pulse of society, the better they can communicate their value proposition to society honestly and directly. If a professional doesn't understand the nuances of the business world and evolving cultures, that's a recipe for a marketing disaster. It's easy to step in it if you don't know what IT is.
Anyone in advertising who thinks it's a good idea to cold call someone and ask for "the man of the house" is insensitive at best, and wildly ignorant at worst. Companies that advertise to women and speak to them like humans are winning. Sure, empowerment messages sell more bars of soap, but avoiding old tropes and condescension is a pretty simple way that informed professionals speak to women (and men).
Although things are changing, if we simply spoke to (and advertised to) each other like the complex humans we are, beautifully dotting that wide spectrum, I believe brand loyalty would be even deeper.
AM: Anything else you want to add?
LANI: Anyone who “pinkvertises” is annoying. Companies who treat feminism or equal rights as a gimmick or prop don't deserve a dollar from you.