Marketing Re-Imagined: Meta’s Elisha Gada On How We Can Re-Imagine The Marketing Industry To Make It More Authentic, Sustainable, And Promote More Satisfaction
I am passionate about initiating a movement that emphasizes inclusivity and genuine representation of minorities in all marketing communications. Marketing has the incredible power to reflect the values and dynamics of our society. Customers desire to see individuals like themselves represented in the brands they choose to support. It is essential to recognize that diversity and inclusion go beyond mere tokenism or superficial representation. We must strive to authentically portray the lives and experiences of marginalized communities. This requires a deep understanding and connection with their stories, challenges, and aspirations. True inclusivity means going beyond the surface level and truly representing the richness and diversity of these communities. As marketing professionals, we must hold ourselves accountable for contributing to a more inclusive society. This entails creating marketing communications that foster positive change, challenge stereotypes, and forge genuine connections with diverse audiences. By embracing this approach, we can make a meaningful impact and work towards building a more inclusive world.
From an objective standpoint, we are living in an unprecedented era of abundance. Yet so many of us are feeling unsatisfied. Why are we seemingly so insatiable? Do you feel that marketing has led to people feeling unsatisfied and not having enough in life? If so, what actions can marketers take to create a world where people feel that they have enough, and they are enough? Can we re-imagine what marketing looks like and how it makes people feel? In this interview series, we are talking to experts in marketing and branding to discuss how we might re-imagine marketing to make it more authentic, sustainable, and promote more satisfaction. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Elisha Gada.
Elisha Gada is a results-driven marketing professional with a strong track record of accelerating demand and revenue growth. With over 7 years of experience at Meta and Dell Technologies, Elisha excels in formulating successful marketing strategies and leading high-impact campaigns that have delivered millions in lead revenue. With a foundation in advertising, she brings a fresh and innovative perspective to help brands engage with their customers in unique and captivating ways.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series Elisha! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!
I began my career as a junior copywriter in Mumbai. Working across different advertising agencies during those initial years provided me with valuable insights into what makes a successful campaign and how to effectively convey a brand story effectively. I got the chance to work on global brands like Oreo, Nivea, and Pampers as they ventured into the Indian market. These experiences fueled my passion for driving brand and marketing strategies. During this time, I also had an incredible opportunity to be selected for the first-ever Creative Academy at Cannes Lions. Being surrounded by a diverse community of skilled creatives from various parts of the world motivated me to pursue a career that allowed me to develop a broader global outlook.
This led me to pursuing a degree in business in the US and build a career in global marketing. This was perhaps the biggest risk of my life I had taken leaving behind my country and family for a new chapter abroad. My MBA years at Michigan helped me understand nuances of different aspects of a successful business from finance to operations and truly changed the way I approached any problem.
Following my time at Michigan, I got an opportunity at Dell, joining their North America Commercial Client team as a Content program manager. In just over a year, I was promoted to the role of Client Campaign Manager, leading groundbreaking campaigns that generated demand for Dell’s B2B laptops and desktops. Over nearly five years in this role, I gained a wealth of knowledge in B2B marketing, from managing multimedia campaigns and running content syndication to organizing webinars and designing email automation strategies. We constantly pushed the boundaries of innovation to reach our customers, collaborating with influential figures and pioneering initiatives like the first-ever B2B influencer campaign and an augmented reality mailer that brought our latest products into our customers’ living rooms. After a successful six-year tenure at Dell, I felt it was time to leverage my marketing expertise for a different audience, which led me to an exciting opportunity at Meta. Presently, I work on marketing Meta’s advertising capabilities to small businesses.
Can you please tell us about your typical day? What day-to-day structures do you have in place for you to experience a fulfilled life?
I have come to appreciate balance that a routine brings to my life. I start my day usually around 7 and take about 20–30 minutes to catch up on messages from friends around the world. This little ritual energizes me and sets a positive tone for the day ahead. To fuel myself healthily, I also have the same breakfast every day. It takes away the complications of what to eat and helps me ease into my day. Fitness has also become an integral part of my routine and I make sure to work out 5–6 times a week consistently for the past 3 years. Not only does it help me destress, but it also brings clarity to my thoughts and allows me to process my day effectively. I also try to take an hour-long lunch with my colleagues every day. This helps me build me take a much-need break in my day but also build relationships with my coworkers and learn more about different parts of the business. In addition, my partner and I try to cook our dinner together or take a walk every day. It gives us quality time together without being distracted.
What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?
If I could offer advice to my younger self, it would be to embrace taking risks and challenge my people-pleasing attitude. Too often, I would hold back from expressing myself or pursuing certain opportunities because I feared that disagreeing or asserting my opinions would result in unhappiness. I would tell myself to have confidence in my ideas and to invest time in discovering and honing my own voice. Additionally, I would emphasize the importance of seeking out strong advocates who can mentor and support me, even behind closed doors. Having advocates who believe in my potential and are willing to speak up on my behalf can make a significant difference in my personal and professional growth.
Ok, thank you for sharing that. Now let’s discuss marketing. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority on marketing?
That is a loaded question but I’m going to attempt to answer it. When I think back, growing up in India post liberalization was probably what drove me towards marketing. With the advent of TV, radio and global brands, there were a sudden increase in ad commercials and innovative marketing campaigns. I remember growing up with ad commercials that we would hum like famous songs and still do. However, from an objective standpoint, marketing has been an integral part of my career journey right from the beginning. As a copywriter, I delved into countless advertisements, honing my understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Through this experience, I’ve had the privilege of working with numerous global brands, spearheading national campaigns that garnered marketing effectiveness awards. Over the past 7+ years, I’ve been dedicated to B2B Marketing, managing campaign strategy and media budgets for North America and global markets. During this time, our integrated sales and marketing campaigns led us to achieve the coveted position of being the #1 commercial PC provider. My dedication and talent have also been recognized by Adobe and Wunderman at the Cannes Lion 2017, who recognized me as a rising star when I was representing US in the Young Marketers Contest.
Throughout history, marketing has driven trade for humans. What role do you see that marketing has played in creating the human experience?
Marketing has grown from simply talking about the product and its benefits to storytelling and building brand resonance. The evolution was to appeal not just to consumer’s logical side but emotional side as well. Soaps have evolved from purely cleaning you to now making you pretty, smell a certain way and leave a certain impression. A detergent isn’t just a detergent anymore, it is something that enables you to have fun and get your hands dirty literally. In addition to product benefits becoming table stakes, emotional appeal is something every customer now expects from a brand.
Marketing campaigns in their onset often reflected societal norms. For example, in India marketing campaigns often portrayed women as homemakers and in charge of cleaning and cooking. But now they are challenging the same narrative. P&G came in with “Share the load” campaign asking men to be bigger part of the experience or Nike’s campaign that promoted female athletes and sportsmanship. We also have brands like Dove with their “Real Beauty” campaign that challenged beauty standards and asked people to reconsider what they thought was beautiful.
Lastly, marketing taglines have also become a strong pop-culture references. For example, “Just Do It” Or “I’m lovin’ it” have created resonance that goes beyond the brand purpose they were created for.
Many 21st-century marketing professionals in a capitalistic society will discuss solving human “pain points” to sell products, services, and other wares successfully. In your opinion or experience, has aggravating pain points led to more pain? Can you explain what you mean?
Fundamental marketing function is to identify customer benefit and need and position the product effectively. But there are numerous examples where brands have exploited customer need or created a popular narrative that feeds on people’s insecurities. There are overt examples such as fairness creams or beauty products that directly target women or young girls. There are also more subliminal campaigns where certain aspirational brands and campaigns create a sense of inadequacy in their customers. It might be in the choice of models they might pick to represent their brand or background for their brand campaigns. I do think there is an opportunity for brands to be more authentic in their representation and be more relatable as a result. However, marketing is often a reflection of how society thinks and feels. With evolving social conscience, brands are getting more empowered to take a stronger stance and question some of these pain points. The narrative overall is shifting from focusing on “fitting in” with the majority to “celebrating our differences”.
Different cultures view trade/marketing differently. While some may focus on “pain-points” others may focus on “purpose-points”. How do other cultures differ in how they approach marketing? Please give examples or studies you may know about.
Cultural back drop plays a big role in how you view marketing. There is some level of globalization now with internet and social media. However, if you want to appeal to local audiences, you need to understand cultural context. Some regions have a stronger power index and strong sense of hierarchy versus other regions. This might affect how you speak to your customers and the brand voice you choose. Gender and relationship dynamics differ significantly in many cultures. This might affect the visuals you choose and story lines your ads have. A recent example is from the FIFA world cup in Qatar where beer brands which have strong ties to football community had to rethink how to approach their marketing considering local cultural sentiments. Colors also have a certain cultural nuance where some cultures consider certain colors very auspicious and others feel the opposite, and brands need to think through their packaging and choice of colors to build a global appeal. Having said all that, there are still some campaigns that have universal appeal and tug on emotions in all geographies such as “Thank you, Mom” by P&G. Marketers need to strike that fine balance of being global and local.
Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: It seems as if we have never stopped to question marketing. In your opinion, how can marketing professionals be more responsible for how their advertising shapes our human experience? Based on your experience and your area of expertise can you please share “Five Ways We Can Re-Imagine The Marketing Industry To Make It More Authentic, Sustainable, And Promote More Satisfaction”? Please share a story or an example for each if you can.
In marketing you will often learn the 4Ps of marketing which are Price, Promotion, Place, Product which form the foundation of any strategy. I think it is a good time to revisit and perhaps add a few more to the list.
1 . People — Bring together communities and offer authentic representation to every community. For example — Let’s stop writing briefs with the word racially ambiguous and drop a stake in the ground and be authentic to cultures and audiences we aim to portray in our campaigns.
2. Planet — Be more thoughtful of their campaign footprint and find ways to reduce or reuse promotional materials. For example — when was the last time you opened your mailbox and didn’t find a bunch of marketing materials that would usually end up in trash.
3. Pragmatic — Focus on being realistic in the marketing claims and value your brand offers to the customer. I have seen brands getting carried away in guise of creative freedom, but it does pay off to think beyond snazzy claims and be straightforward and relatable.
4. Power Equation — Think through the power dynamics in your campaign in terms of gender and minority groups. Is your campaign giving them power or taking away their power? Evaluating different aspect of your campaigns, from choosing your models to agency you partner with to the actual story you tell. Are you building a popular narrative or empowering narratives that generally get lost in the crowd?
5. Proactive — Close the loop between product and customers. This means not just ensuring the product experience is what marketing campaigns promise but also thinking of the future product roadmap and ensuring it is evolving the way the customer is evolving and continues to meet their needs. For example, a question worth considering is 5 years from now, what role does your product/brand play in your customer life and how can marketing help you get there?
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you about marketing differently?
I’m a firm believer of ideas can strike anywhere, and marketers need to have a world view and sense of how businesses and stories are built. So, my list of resources is a mix of both.
Podcasts I love are “How I built this with Guy Raz?” to learn about different businesses and their story. It truly helps me learn about how they approached their marketing and storytelling. Hidden Brain from NPR is a great podcast on some diverse ideas. They cover topics from psychology to finance but are great in offering explanations for some of those contextual situations that might affect buying behavior. I also love to stay on top of what is going in marketing through Ad week and eMarketer. They are great resources to get the latest on marketing. Cannes Lions is also a great inspirational tool and event on campaigns around the world. And last but not the least, Marketing Management by Philip Kotler, is of course the bible of marketing for those wanting to learn the basics and much more.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement to reimagine marketing, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am passionate about initiating a movement that emphasizes inclusivity and genuine representation of minorities in all marketing communications. Marketing has the incredible power to reflect the values and dynamics of our society. Customers desire to see individuals like themselves represented in the brands they choose to support.
It is essential to recognize that diversity and inclusion go beyond mere tokenism or superficial representation. We must strive to authentically portray the lives and experiences of marginalized communities. This requires a deep understanding and connection with their stories, challenges, and aspirations. True inclusivity means going beyond the surface level and truly representing the richness and diversity of these communities.
As marketing professionals, we must hold ourselves accountable for contributing to a more inclusive society. This entails creating marketing communications that foster positive change, challenge stereotypes, and forge genuine connections with diverse audiences. By embracing this approach, we can make a meaningful impact and work towards building a more inclusive world.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
LinkedIn is a great way to follow my work. You can find me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/elishagada/
I also want to end by saying all views here are mine and don’t represent the view or opinions of Meta Inc in any way.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
Marketing Re-Imagined: Meta’s Elisha Gada On How We Can Re-Imagine The Marketing Industry To Make… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.