As part of an ongoing series highlighting up-and-coming people in marketing communications, Branding in Asia presents “One Under 30”.
This time we speak with Zeina Broker, who previously worked as a Gen-Z consultant on Unilever’s powerful “I am a Girl” campaign.
Although her career pursuit has only just begun, we wanted to get the perspective of a Gen-Zer and find out what appeals to them about the marketing communications industry, as well as what brands can do to better engage with their generation.
Name: Zeina Broker
Media platform: The Global Spectator
Position: Co-founder & Editor-in-chief
Current Location: Hong Kong
As a Gen Z consumer, what is most important for brands to get your attention and for you to engage with them?
For me, it’s all about providing a genuine feel to the campaign. Oftentimes, we see ads with a social message that feels contrived or performative. To combat this, brands can take a more long-term approach of sustained action on a particular issue and therefore be authentic. In today’s world, information is readily available so research can easily reveal if a brand is actually interested in helping with an issue.
Personally, I may like a brand’s products but before I purchase their goods, I want to know how exactly the product got on the shelf. What are the environmental implications? Was child labour involved? Is a percentage of the sales going towards a worthy cause? These things matter and brands have an obligation to lead changemaking efforts.
A memorable example of a brand that comes across as genuine is Patagonia’s continued efforts to combat climate change. As far back as 1985, Patagonia’s owner, Yvon Chouinard, pledged 1% of annual revenue to fight climate change. Since then, the brand has made multiple campaigns focused on themes such as toxic consumerism. And last year, Mr Chouinard went a step further, hitting the headlines for donating the entire company towards environmental initiatives. Of course, this is an extreme example. Nonetheless, what makes Patagonia’s work resonate is that the brand has a genuine mission, a clear message and above all, they are talking the talk, but also walking the walk.
What got you interested in the communications industry?
My first exposure to the industry came when I started leading clubs in high school. I found that a combination of distinctive initiatives and effective marketing led to the largest growth in membership. This realisation led me to explore the power of media in greater depth through The Global Spectator—my own social and political platform, focused on showcasing youth perspectives globally.
What is your personal mantra?
“We will be known by the tracks we leave behind.”
This is a famous Native American proverb which I came across a few years ago. I felt it encapsulates the idea of legacy beautifully. In both my professional and personal life, I always strive to leave an enduring positive mark.
From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?
I would say that my work has been heavily guided by the theme of empowerment. One of the things I appreciate most about media and advertising as an industry is the ability to cultivate tangible and lasting social change. In my view, leveraging creativity and innovation for social betterment results in more effective and successful campaigns. I strongly believe that by empowering other people—whether that be the consumers of a particular product, or a marginalised community aligned with a client’s message—creative work can push new boundaries.
What do you love about the job?
My favourite part about working for The Global Spectator is the opportunity to engage with such a diverse set of youth. Our platform has featured contributions from the Philippines to Norway, Bangladesh to the US.
This has broadened my worldview, exposing me to a wide range of dynamic and intriguing cultures. It has also enabled me to engage with lesser-reported, under the radar social and political developments. But above all, it has taught me the value of having respectful and productive debate. Without these conversations, catalysing social action and driving positive change becomes infinitely more difficult.
What about it are you not so crazy about?
Serving as the co-founder and editor-in-chief of a successful youth-led media organisation is creative, intellectually stimulating, and ultimately very rewarding. Nonetheless, like with any job, mundane administrative work can be time-consuming and frustrating. For me, this includes things like day-to-day website maintenance. Of course, such tasks are necessary, but I prefer the more innovative and impact-driven work that we do!
What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?
I worked as a Gen-Z consultant on Unilever’s “I am a girl” campaign, which aimed to create a more equitable school curriculum in Pakistan. This was important to me, as girls are significantly underrepresented in the country’s educational content.
By altering a famous childhood poem to incorporate female-friendly language, I felt that we were able to further our client’s vision, while simultaneously creating positive change. With the help and support of the campaign’s NGO and government partners, the reformed poem was integrated into 5,000+ schools.
If you had to choose another career what would it be?
I think a career in public policy, politics, or working for an NGO would be both exhilarating and impactful!