Goafest 2024: Sparking change with gender-sensitive marketing

Experts discussed practical steps and the crucial role of education and entertainment in shaping societal attitudes. The call to action emphasised the power of creativity to drive positive change and build a more equitable future for all genders.

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Sparking change with gender-sensitive marketing
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Mumbai: Day 2 of Goafest 2024 buzzed with energy as the Knowledge Seminar on ‘Gender-Sensitive Marketing: Navigating the New Consumer Landscape’, hosted by Sri Adhikari Brothers Networks (Dhamaal) and presented in collaboration with the IAA, unfolded. 

Moderated by Kranti Gada, the discussion brought together a powerhouse of experts: Chandni Shah (Chief Operating Officer, FCB Kinnect), Darshana Shah (Head, Marketing & Customer Experience, Aditya Birla Capital), Kailashnath Adhikari (Business Head, Sri Adhikari Brothers & Managing Director, GovernanceNow), Rajdeepak Das (Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Groupe South Asia & Chairman Leo Burnett South Asia), and Ram Madhvani (Filmmaker, Producer, Founder, Equinox Films, Ram Madhvani Films & Equinox Virtual).

The conversation delved into the evolving landscape of consumer expectations, where inclusivity and authenticity reign supreme. As Chandni Shah declared, "The Gen-Z is gender blind," highlighting the growing demand for diverse representation in advertising and media.

One of the key themes that emerged was the imperative to dismantle harmful stereotypes and create more authentic and diverse narratives. Darshana Shah, emphasising the importance of providing "good women's loos," brought attention to a seemingly simple yet often overlooked aspect of inclusivity. She further challenged the pervasive stereotype of women needing to be constantly strong and courageous, arguing that "this portrayal is another extreme."

"Women actually can't go anywhere," Shah observed, highlighting the inherent bias in public spaces. "And I think that is something that we need to break, which is just to give women good loos."

Ram Madhvani echoed this sentiment, calling for a shift in how women are depicted in the media. "They never show women in smart and humorous roles," he observed, emphasising the need for narratives that showcase the full spectrum of women's experiences and personalities.

"You get like, even in movies, there's a woman bimbette, but you don't get a male bimbette," Darshana Shah added, referencing the lack of complex female characters. 

The discussion went beyond simply acknowledging the need for change and explored practical steps that the marketing and advertising industry can take. Darshana Shah shared her experience with the impactful "Paisa Hai Toh Pawar Hai" campaign, which aimed to empower women financially.

"The big stereotype is actually the fact that men can go anywhere and women actually can't," Shah explained. "And I think that is something that we need to break, which is just to give women good looks."

Kailashnath Adhikari emphasised the importance of incorporating a "general lens" of gender sensitivity into the creative process. This means actively questioning potential biases and ensuring that diverse perspectives are considered at every stage, from ideation to execution.

"You know, I remember when I was a child, I was reading my textbook for one of the exam preparations, and there was one paragraph there that really struck my mind," Adhikari recalled. "It said that in India, the desire to have a million children is one of the key reasons for population exclusion. Now, keep population exclusion aside, but the desire to have a million children, you know, that only sounds so wrong, you know, and today, when I think about it when I contemplate it, it shouldn't be a part of any kind of study anymore as we are progressing ahead. There shouldn't be any desire to have a mid-chapter, because that is like the epicentre from where it is all coming. If we start that right away, then I think things will change."

The panel also acknowledged the crucial role of education and entertainment in shaping societal attitudes towards gender. Rajdeepak Das highlighted the lack of female sports figures in endorsements, calling for a change in how brands approach representation. He emphasised the power of role models and the impact they can have on young audiences.

Darshana Shah further emphasised the responsibility of the entertainment industry, stating, "Movies and other forms of media should move away from male-centric narratives and portray women in more empowered and complex roles."

The "Gender-Sensitive Marketing: Navigating The New Consumer Landscape" session at Goafest 2024 was a powerful call to action for the advertising and media industry to embrace inclusivity and dismantle harmful stereotypes. The panel of experts highlighted the importance of creating diverse narratives, providing practical steps for incorporating a gender-sensitive lens into the creative process and emphasising the responsibility of education and entertainment in shaping societal attitudes.

As Chandni Shah declared, "Creativity rules," and it is through this creativity that we can build a more representative and empowering landscape for all genders.