Podcast: Zenith and Coty on Giving Beauty Marketing an Edge

By Publicis Media InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Podcast: Zenith and Coty on Giving Beauty Marketing an Edge

There's a lot of talk about trust between brands, digital communities and consumers.  But in Episode 15 of the Insider InSites podcast we're talking about trust between agency and client that drives good marketing.  I spoke with Chandra Coleman, Vice President, U.S. Marketing, Cosmetics and Mass Fragrances for Rimmel, part of Coty -- one of the world's largest beauty companies, and Brent Poer, President and Executive Creative Director for Branded Content at Zenith (both pictured below), on what makes their relationship thrive, how to be nimble in the competitive beauty industry, and what it takes to successfully introduce a cosmetic brand to the U.S. market today.  The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.  Listen to the entire conversation with Coleman and Poer here, through our player below, or subscribe on Apple podcasts, Stitcher and Google Play and now on IHeartRadio!

E.B. Moss:  Brent and Chandra, you worked together at Publicis and P&G respectively and now, at Zenith and Coty, you're collaborating again on media, content and creative.  How have you redefined the typical agency/client relationship?

Chandra Coleman:  The new Coty [a merger of the legacy Coty brands and the divested Proctor brands] recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.  As with any change, it's been an evolving journey ... with a lot of it centered around creating a local success model for Rimmel -- leveraging local insights and creating local content, which is a first for the London-rooted brand.  I think this relationship is different [than traditional agency relationships] in that we have to be more creative and think more entrepreneurially.  We're a small and nimble brand, so we [both] jump in and do what it takes.

Brent Poer:  I hadn't seen Chandra for years, but we've had success in the past on different brands and in different scenarios, so you have that immediate trust.  We have a shorthand so we can go very quickly because we understand the other person's point of view and perspective.  This [current] journey has been about finding Rimmel a new voice for the American consumer while not moving away fully from the London heritage.

Moss:  Do you think that embracing both competition and friends -- or "frenemies" -- in a whole different way might have to be the wave of the future?

Coleman:  Yes, because everything is evolving so rapidly ... from retailers and the environments where we're selling our products, to the way consumers buy and how they interact.  So, the relationships with agencies also have to change for us to figure out new and different ways to really connect with our consumers.  You can generate a higher output when you know you can trust the person and their opinions.   

Brent:  I work out of Coty a day a week, so sometimes I feel like I'm actually a Coty vs Zenith employee, just based on the amount of exchange and creativity and collaboration that we do on a daily basis.  I think we're seeing a lot more of this and people having to do more with less.  Budgets are not increasing for brands to be able to market and communicate to consumers.  They have to be much more intelligent about what they're doing, how they're doing it.  It means that we're building media partnerships and relationships with some of our publishers that can help us create additional assets for all of our own platforms.

Moss:  What's a recent success story and how did your personal relationship help make it a reality?

Coleman:  I needed to quickly develop a launch plan for ScandalEyes, one of our largest base mascaras.  Brent and I just riffed on the phone about what was so great about the product.  We were able to develop some local content by taking Rimmel insights and building on what the brand has always stood for: edge, irreverence, confidence and self-expression.  We were able to pull it off and boost the business, I think almost 20 percent!  So, this was a reconnect that was very happy for me [and] the biggest first success of us working together again.

Poer:  Yeah.  It was a four-week turnaround.  We had no assets for ScandalEyes so we had to start explaining what "Edge your Look" meant for a U.S. market.  We had to create an original television commercial and content from the ground up in that very short window.  

E.B. Moss:  Did the "edge" product positioning inspire innovative multi-platform tactics?

Poer:  We were the first beauty brand to ever do a how-to video tutorial on Snapchat, which was a big launch for us.  Chandra and I use the phrase "see and say" all the time.  You need to be able to see the look so that you can demonstrate what the benefit of the product is, but also say what "edge" means to that consumer ... and use the right media platforms to make sure we're getting enough reach of the right consumer.

E.B. Moss:  How do you also develop a relationship with the consumer and build their trust in today's environment?

Coleman:  By changing with them.  Consumers love the constant exploration and the always-on mentality.  [For example] we've started street beauty ... as the way in which we're tapping into edgy and emerging beauty trends that are literally born underground and confidently worn in communities all around us.  It's self-expression that's creative and exemplifies what Rimmel is all about.  Brands have to find a way to always be true to who they are, by not being stale or afraid to evolve.  That's the way in which you connect with consumers because they're on a journey themselves.

Poer:  Consumers are really smart, and they can sniff out someone being fake or someone trying to play into culture in ways that don't feel like it's connected to that product or what that brand really stands for.  We have also been incredibly focused on reflecting who our consumer is, and I think we're far more diverse, whether it's in skin tone or showing a lot of Hispanic women and African American women, not the typical ... blonde-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian woman that was selling everything from foundation to lipstick.

E.B. Moss:  How are you going to come up with the next best thing?

Coleman:  It's about discomfort; Brent and I are constantly saying that if we haven't made each other feel uncomfortable, pushed it far enough, then we aren't going to create magic.  This category is too dynamic to play it safe.  It also has to feel right. 

Poer:  We're very clear with our partners.  When we brief them we say, "Don't come back with anything that you would do for any other brand."  Be scared that you're going to have gone so far off the rails with an idea or a potential execution that you're nervous about presenting it to us -- because that's where we want to live.

Listen to the podcast for more on how Rimmel and Zenith are also embracing AI and AR, using experiential activations to reach Gen Z and Millennials, and their predictions for mobile, influencer and user-generated content as part of what's happening in beauty. 

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