Why I Follow Willow Smith on Instagram: A Marketer’s Love of Pop Culture


Maritza ZapataBy Maritza Zapata, Director of Marketing, dash design

Marketers today need to wear a lot of hats.

We need to be strategic; tech and social media savvy; must have a proficiency in the industry we serve;  be in front of the right audience at the right time, and know how to convert initiatives to sales and building awareness. However, one element that is worth adding and is often overlooked: an understanding of pop culture.

Pop culture gives us interesting clues as to where we are headed and how the markets may be shifting in the future. Big brands invest heavily and in many cases are highly dependent on the association of their brand to celebrity endorsements.  Brands are being advertised in subtle and not so subtle ways, and celebrities now have access to a wealth of new and mostly leading products, technology, and services.

(Image Source: Twitter)

(Image Source: Twitter)

Take for example Willow Smith: she is a teen celebrity who has become a major social media influencer and an icon. At the tender age of 15, she is a Chanel brand ambassador, has 1.1 million followers on Instagram (myself included), has an interesting take on fashion, is an actress and singer, gender fluid and is a self -proclaimed scientist. Willow encompasses everything I think future generations will represent: the notion of self-expression that is not confined to labels or titles. Younger people today are not allowing their age to prevent them from exploring new opportunities. Questioning the status quo is the new must; everything Willow does scream “Don’t box me in!”  This tells me we should give thought as to how this new generation’s views will impact the future of design;  how will  they shop, eat, sleep and work and how we should  shift to ensure that the markets respond to the needs. And as a marketer knowing that this audience is somewhat marketing averse, how do we help our clients make an emotional connection to these audiences?

Change is constant: By following pop culture and the trends happening on the streets today, you can gain a wealth of knowledge of what’s potentially in store for us in the future. How does this apply to your job? You would be surprised. Looking at pop culture can shed lots of insights on how the landscape is shifting. It will provide clues on how people are making decisions (re: housing, spending, vacationing, gifting) or if they’re being more mindful and making conscious decisions.  For example, composting is now an option in my Queens, NY neighborhood. This tells me people have a desire to be more environmentally conscious and the program will likely go mainstream in the near future.  Another example – Bruce Springsteen just canceled his North Carolina due to the state’s anti-gay legislation.  I imagine lots of other pro-LGBT celebrities will follow suit. This shows me the Tar Heel state will have to do some re-thinking of its position or deal with the already occurring financial fallout.

It’s important to make efforts to understand pop culture and the influence it carries over to marketing. We ignore it at our peril and what will suffer will be not only livelihood, but the industries that we serve as well.

About the Author: Maritza Zapata is the director of marketing at dash design (www.dashdesign.net), an interior design and brand development company headquartered in Long Island City, New York.  Highly regarded for her marketing expertise, Zapata previously worked at desgrippes gobé, G2 Worldwide and Enterprise IG. 




Leave a Comment