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John Frieda Bets on Blair Fowler to Boost Brilliant Brunette

The YouTube sensation will be developing content to connect the hair-care brand with young hair-care enthusiasts.

John Frieda wants Blair Fowler to be your shower buddy, at least virtually.

In a departure from its usual tie-ins with celebrities and celebrity hairstylists, the brand tapped the YouTube sensation for a digital campaign that kicks off this week with her first video dedicated to its Brilliant Brunette Visibly Brighter Lightening Collection designed to lift brown hair by a shade. The campaign is intended for Fowler to connect John Frieda with young consumers interested in her experience with its new products, which also include the Brilliant Brunette Visibly Deeper Colour Deepening Collection, and their effects on her hair.

“These are at-home products used in the shower. So, they are not something stylists would necessarily recommend. Because they are first-to-market innovations with a very unique usage behavior and benefit, we really felt we had to have someone who could use these products and talk their audience authentically about them,” said Heather Warnke, director of marketing for John Frieda Hair Care U.S. “Blair’s brunette. She has passion and enthusiasm, and loves to experiment. She was already a fan of our brand, and that’s very important to us.”

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Fowler is expected to post videos related to Brilliant Brunette roughly on a monthly basis on YouTube, a platform that John Frieda, a larger player on Instagram and Facebook, hasn’t focused much on in the past; filter bits of content to other social media channels, and make appearances at events on behalf of the brand. Before deciding to endorse Brilliant Brunette, Fowler insisted she try the products and became a convert after washing with Visibly Brighter shampoo and conditioner over the holidays. “My mom immediately noticed and said it looked like I had been in the sun. I’ve used it ever since. It’s so easy to tweak your color in the shower,” she said.

The products alone didn’t convince Fowler to sign on the dotted line. She was adamant John Frieda not command her to follow scripts in her videos featuring its products. “I’ve stopped working with brands that refuse to give me full creative control,” she said, adding, “Brands tend to have an idea in their mind of how they want the partnership to go, and they’re very wary to stray from that. I’ve been doing videos for eight years, so I know my viewers. Sometimes it’s best to let the influencer organically plug the product, rather than having them read off 50 talking points.”

For the Millennial hair-care enthusiasts John Frieda wants to reach, Warnke understands calculated brand messages may not be effective, particularly when it comes to a hair color product they might be worried about applying. “They may have had experiences with color products that weren’t so great, and could have questions like, ‘Is it going to make my hair orange?’ This generation especially wants to know from a fellow woman whether a product is real or not, someone they trust that uses the product and is going to give them the truth. It is hard for them to trust a brand,” she said.

John Frieda didn’t blindly head into a partnership with Fowler. It has been successful joining forces with a personality to broaden its consumer base. In 2014 and 2015, a campaign with Lauren Conrad increased its Sheer Blonde and Beach Blonde business. “For the first time, we were bringing a younger consumer to Sheer Blonde, and we saw an immediate response [in sales] when we worked with Lauren,” said Warnke. Discussing Fowler, she noted, “Our most important measurement of the success of this relationship is the level of engagement with the content, but we will be able to measure an impact in the market.”

The nature of the content John Frieda is generating with Fowler is quite different from the content developed with Conrad. Warnke detailed the brand will be combing through ratings and reviews of Visibly Brighter and Visibly Deeper to determine what doubts consumers have about the products in order to have Fowler promptly address them. “We are really leveraging Blair to create what we call snackable content, which is more frequent. We are working with her to get education out there as fast as possible,” she said. “It’s basically happening in real-time versus in the past where, although it was digital, we weren’t working as iteratively. Over the years, we haven’t been able to do that. Everything has been more produced.”