Q&A: Marketing Vp Anne-Marie Kline Lets Customers Tell Living Proof’s Story

It's not just wash, rinse, repeat for the hair brand


Anne-Marie Kline

Current gig Vp, global marketing, Living Proof

Previous gig Svp, social content, Digitas

Twitter @amkline

Age 46

Adweek: What attracted you to Living Proof when you joined one year ago?

Anne-Marie Kline: I had been at Digitas for 10 years, working at a senior level on very large brands, and I was looking for a way to put my mark directly on the right brand. I had only used one of the products before I started interviewing. One of the things that attracted me most was the way the company was founded. We are down the street from MIT. Our founders' work was mainly in the biotech and medical spaces, and they sought to apply the same innovation, rigor and discipline to hair.

Do you apply lessons from your agency career at Living Proof on a regular basis?

I have much stricter constraints of time, resources and budget. My top three filters: 1. Let go of your brand story and let others tell it for you; 2. Be a brand that others need to be a part of; and 3. Celebrate the consumer as much as possible.

What's your marketing mix right now?

The development of our content marketing strategy was critical. The first shift was in how and who to tell the Living Proof story. We also shifted from a campaign strategy to an always-on mentality. Packaged goods is all about the crescendo and the campaign, but I came from Digitas, where I was selling always-on for years as a more effective way to reach an audience when they are ready, versus when a brand is ready. We focused on developing the organic influencer program, which has really been our ace in the hole as it delivers millions of dollars in earned-media value.

Can you give me some examples?

We invited beauty editors to attend a SoulCycle class instead of a traditional press event to launch one of the best-selling dry shampoos in the market. After the class when everyone was very sweaty, we asked everyone not to wash their hair and to instead try our dry shampoo. That was important because it went from our words to their experiences. It resulted in headlines, not just mentions in roundups. We also launched a blog with original and curated content. It's called The Strand, and we are seeing our lowest CPC with these pieces on tutorials, proof tests and how-tos. We also have a recurring column called "Woman Crush" where we interview a substantive woman we have a crush on.

How did Living Proof's sponsorship of The New York Times' Modern Love: The Podcast come about?

Jessica Alpert, the producer of Modern Love, is a Living Proof user, and she thought we would make a great sponsor, so they reached out. We wanted our spots to match the show … and Modern Love is about themes of love, loss and redemption. We get love letters of our own all the time from our consumers. Some truly bring tears to the eyes and smiles to the lips. So, we turned these into the 30-second spots. In the spirit of authenticity, the letters are read by the editor of our blog and head of corporate communications, Katie Sullivan. It's perfect because we are able to publicly celebrate our consumers.

Living Proof just had a new product launch, yes?

We just launched the Timeless collection, which is a line that addresses age-related changes to your hair. We are using a combination of original content, social media and video to tell the story about aging wisely. We take inspiration from six women from their mid-40s through 70s to help us lead the way. We didn’t touch up any of the photos. We also looked for women with great stories of lessons learned and how they dealt with conflicting advice. We invite women to share the advice about how they age wisely. But it’s really not about the amount of responses. It’s about celebrating women and their wisdom to know what is right for them.

Who is your mentor or marketing hero?

Helena Foulkes, president of CVS, is my current-day marketing hero. I was fortunate to have worked with her during the year leading up to their industry-changing decision to eliminate the sale of tobacco from CVS. I learned that you can be a visionary who is determined and kind. And because of that decision to remove tobacco, CVS' sales and stock price went up and less people are smoking.

This story first appeared in the March 28 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.