Putting the consumer first is a mantra that has stayed with 38-year-old Elicia Azali in her more than 15 years in marketing. Early in her career, she worked at Procter & Gamble on the Charmin brand and learned what it takes to build a strong relationship with customers.
Azali channeled her knowledge into new roles in the insurance category, serving as senior VP-marketing and then chief revenue officer at The General, where she was the first African-American woman to hold a C-suite post. There, Azali steered the launch of a number of high-impact marketing pushes, including a brand refresh starring Shaquille O’Neal that dared to address the company’s own failings—bad advertising. (The insurer’s marketing previously consisted of crudely animated spots starring an unintentionally cheesy “General” character.)
“When it's done right, creativity should be breakthrough, it should resonate, but it should also be through the lens of growth,” Azali believes. “It’s very much of the head and the heart.” In July, Azali’s successes buoyed her into the role of chief marketing officer at The General’s parent company, American Family Insurance, where she now oversees a portfolio of brands—and that’s on top of her role as mother to four boys.