Diversity reboot

Leslie Zane (She/Her)
Leslie Zane (She/Her)
Summit Speaker

Founder and CEO, Triggers Brand Consulting, and Instinct Marketing Pioneer

Zane is championing a revolution in marketing from persuasion to instinct. Founder of Triggers Brand Consulting, Zane was the first to take behavioral science theory and apply it to solving some of the toughest Fortune 500 business challenges. This resulted in client growth rates that doubled those produced by the top global management consulting firms.

From the “Real Food” strategy that turned McDonald’s around, to “Stop Hunger from Stopping You,” the Snickers strategy that produced the record-breaking Betty White ad campaign, Zane’s brand reinventions are legendary. Many brand positionings and symbols we take for granted today—from the purity and snow-capped mountains of Aquafina water to Colgate Total’s “Whole Mouth Health” and multi-colored swoosh — came from Zane’s Triggers work. And today, she is dedicated to effecting societal change by applying her proprietary methodology to vexing social issues.

Zane spent more than three decades studying the source of instinctive brand behavior –the moment when consumers reach for their “go-to” brand on autopilot. Her work uncovering the roots of instinctive brand preference for Coke and Pepsi led to the discovery that deep-seated biases like prejudice, climate change denial, and vaccine resistance work much the way that brand preference works in the brain. With that epiphany, she is tackling racism, antisemitism, and climate change denial by addressing the root causes of bias in each instance.

Her TEDx talk, The Hidden Link Between Success and the Subconscious, upended the marketing industry, leading to a book deal revealing how Zane’s counter-intuitive approach creates preference at the subconscious level. The Instinct Advantage will hit bookshelves in 2024: Hachette calls it a “BIG IDEA” book and the most important construct since Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” because it explains how the world works. In the publisher’s words, “Once you understand the construct, you can’t unsee it.”

A Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Bain Capital alum, Leslie is a powerful orator and passionate advocate for shaping human choices at the instinctive level. Her work has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, World Economic Forum, Scientific American, NASDAQ, Ad Age, and more. Her seminal article, Cracking the Code on Brand Growth, was published to much fanfare in Knowledge@Wharton. In 2021, she coined the term “Covidstasis” and predicted the lingering effects of the pandemic from hybrid work to the current recession. Her latest white paper, “Why Brand Growth Depends on Building Your Brand Connectome – The Science of Do-Good Associations in the Subconscious,” will be published and presented at the American Marketing Association 2023 Academic Conference.

Zane received her MBA from Harvard Business School, her BA from Yale University, and serves on the board of El Centro Hispano. She is married with two grown sons.