L’Oreal Brandstorm’s Jean-Philippe Roby



Who: Jean-Philippe Roby, 22, Toronto

Why he’s a big deal: Along with his teammates Marie Sagarzazu and

Jean-Paul Belmont, this Quebec native won the Canadian division of last year’s L’Oréal Brandstorm by hitting college campuses with a video camera and finding out how sun care fits into the lives of young people. They came away with the insight that youth do care about sun protection, but don’t personally relate to it beyond that. The team’s goal was then to ‘make the brand relevant to them, like cosmetics, to make it personal rather than a commodity that everyone uses,’ explains Roby.

To achieve this, they used interactive web applications where teens could challenge each other to online games. They also created a contest whereby they could upload images or videos showing how sunscreen fits into their lives.

Packaging also became more personal. Tying in with teen’s penchant for technology, they created an iPod-inspired dispenser featuring a flat format and a button rather than a pump.

After taking some time off to travel after the contest, Roby, who studied at École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) in Montreal, went to work for P&G as an assistant brand manager on personal health and beauty. He’s now putting his young mind to work on brands like Braun and Gillette.

Any heroes or people in the industry whose footsteps you’d like to follow in?

Guy Laliberté, the founder and CEO of Cirque de Soleil. He was able to turn the small idea of street performance into a business. When you look at the recent project they did with the Beatles, it’s very profitable and it’s also contributing to culture. I think what makes a difference in the business world is when you really believe in your ideas and when you can bring people around to work with you.

A lot of brands want to get into social networking, but not all do it well. Where do they typically go wrong?

When they get too specific about a product.

I think a positive example is [P&G initiative] http://beinggirl.ca/‘ >Beinggirl.ca. The end goal is to drive sales of Tampax and Always, but the website is about being a girl; they have information about having your first period, they have forums about it and people can talk about it. So it’s creating something that is useful and relevant in a teenager’s life where you integrate your product as a solution to that.

Everyone can create a website with a forum, but if you want people to use it, you have to make it relevant. You have to make it bigger and about something that’s more than a product and a brand.

How does a brand target the younger demo without isolating its older consumers?

When I worked on Brandstorm, Vichy was communicating [to adult consumers] with dermatological facts about the products, but teenagers tune this out very easily. And that’s why web is very useful, you can have two different ways of sending your messages offline and online.

Jump to:


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