Building a lasting brand takes the right leaders stepping into their roles who will deploy a creative strategy that resonates with culture. We brought two marketing Visionaries from Blackstone and Supergoop together who share this common ambition:
Arielle Gross Samuels is the Global Head of Marketing at Blackstone, which delivers for investors by building businesses that power tomorrow’s economy. Arielle is not only building Blackstone’s brand, but also works with many of the 250+ companies in Blackstone’s portfolio–Supergoop! being one of them.
Britany LeBlanc is the CMO at Supergoop!, and is recognized for bringing the use of SPF to life in a fun way through telling the brand story at scale. With a shared passion for marketing (and dance!), Arielle and Britany share much in common, working hand-in-hand to drive their brands to new heights.
Telling Brand Stories at Scale
Arielle Gross Samuels: At Blackstone, we operate at a large scale, with $991 billion in assets under management, and our global footprint provides an exciting opportunity from a marketing perspective to tell our stories.
The Blackstone brand has been a priority for us since our founding over 37 years ago because we recognize that our success as a firm is in large part due to our reputation and trust with our investors.
As we expanded our product offerings and customer base, we wanted to differentiate our value and be seen as the number one leader in alternative investments. We saw a real opportunity here to differentiate and codify our identity.
Britany LeBlanc: When I took on my role at Supergoop!, it was about sharing our brand story on a larger scale. The SPF category was not very popular when the brand started in 2005. In 2017, we had only two shelves at Sephora, which was our primary partner at the time and remains an important partner today.
In 2018, we launched Unseen Sunscreen, which remains our best-selling product to this day. This was the first product I worked on, and our goal was to shift the conversation from being about bikinis and beaches to wearing sunscreen every single day. Ultimately, our mission is to end the epidemic of skin cancer.
We know that we can’t scare people into wearing sunscreen, so we strive to inspire them and make it fun and cool. One way that we’ve done this is by utilizing partnerships with coffee companies like Alfred, and wellness brands like SoulCycle to incorporate SPF and Supergoop! into pop culture and daily life.
My role has shifted from day-to-day operations to thinking more about the brand on a global scale. We recently launched in the EU and have a team on the ground there, as well as in Southeast Asia. While we’re thinking about many different things now than we were five years ago, the spirit of our brand remains the same.
Building Timeless Campaigns
Build With Blackstone
Arielle Gross Samuels: The thinking behind our new company tagline and brand platform, “Build with Blackstone”, was to go to market in a way that would break through. “Build” signals our focus on transformational value creation, and “with Blackstone” welcomes partners across our ecosystem.
What we love about this format is the flexibility. It can expand to reflect the full breadth of our offerings. For example, we can say “Build wealth with Blackstone” for a financial advisor audience, “Build your career with Blackstone” for recruits, and “Build strong businesses with Blackstone” for portfolio companies and CEOs.
We’re excited to bring this campaign to life in an omnichannel way, including video and static ads, a refreshed website, social events, and experiential marketing. We see the tagline as timeless, but our creative and messaging will continue to evolve to keep the brand platform fresh and interesting.
365 Ways to Embrace Your Solar-Powered Freedom Campaign
Britany LeBlanc: As the marketing team has grown from 5 to about 40 people, we’ve steadily increased our investment in 360 marketing and brand storytelling.
Last year we brought on a creative director and have ramped up spend in media, however we continue to emphasize the importance of brand influencers, IRL and PR to spread word of mouth. This has been essential in connecting authentically with our consumers and bringing our brand to life in a fun way.
Recently, we launched a new brand platform called “365 Ways to Embrace your Solar-Powered Freedom,” which we promoted with a big print ad in the New York Times.
We also did a fun activation at a local bagel shop to give out coffee and bagels and bring that moment of solar-powered freedom to people’s mornings – and these two things together really helped us balance reach, with authenticity.
Thinking Bigger Than Your Brand
Britany LeBlanc: At the beginning of our partnership with Blackstone, we sat down with Jonny Bauer, who leads the brand transformation team, to discuss how we could lead Supergoop’s SPF category forward. We wanted to future-proof the brand and differentiate it from competitors.
Through Bauer’s leadership, we were challenged with thought-provoking questions that helped us identify what we stand for and what’s bigger than just sunscreen. We conducted deep consumer research and updated our brand platform and positioning.
Our new brand positioning, “Solar Powered Freedom,” emphasizes the joy we get from the sun rather than just protecting us from its harmful effects. Blackstone’s team has been an incredible resource throughout the process, providing support and guidance when we hit roadblocks or needed feedback.
The launch of our campaign, “Solar Powered Freedom,” is just the beginning. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Blackstone and exploring new opportunities for growth and innovation in the next five to ten years.
Staying Authentic to Your Brand
Britany LeBlanc: As technology and consumer behavior continue to evolve rapidly, we are considering how to adapt to the changing landscape. The rise of the Gen Z mindset is evident, but we must also consider millennials and the upcoming generation in our marketing strategies. We prioritize the authenticity of our brand and its mission, which is to encourage people to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
With that said, while the metaverse is an interesting concept, we decided not to invest in it as it does not align with our brand’s identity. Instead, we focus on platforms such as Snapchat, which the next generation uses frequently for personal one-on-one conversations and messaging with the goal of using technology to share and inspire real world experiences.
Navigating The Future of Teams
Arielle Gross Samuels: Toward the end of my time at Meta, I worked mostly remotely due to conservative Covid policies. Now at Blackstone, I come in five days a week, and there’s such an energizing force that you experience in person, which I frankly missed. I feel like I’m swapping my slippers for stilettos. Especially for people who are newer in their career, those conversations in the hallway really help people grow and learn. I find it rewarding to hear fresh ideas and perspectives from my team, especially as we go to market with new customers in mind.
Britany LeBlanc: An exciting aspect of my job is watching the next generation of my team bring fresh perspectives and ideas. As we return to the workplace after the pandemic, I am focused on inspiring and motivating the team while managing their schedules as we work from home two days a week and in the office three days a week. As a leader, managing a team of young, passionate, and creative marketers in today’s world is a challenge I am excited to take on.
Meet the Visionaries
Arielle Gross Samuels, Global Head of Marketing, Blackstone: Arielle Gross Samuels is a Managing Director and Blackstone’s Global Head of Marketing. She leads Blackstone’s marketing function, inclusive of brand, digital, video, design and events. Prior to joining Blackstone, Samuels worked at Meta (FKA Facebook), serving as the Global Head of ESG Business and previously Business Lead of Global Business Marketing. Prior to Meta, Samuels worked at Deloitte in Engineering Consulting. Samuels serves on the board of the United Nations Foundation Girl Up, the 92NY CEO Council, and is a Founding Member of Chief. She earned a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Britany LeBlanc, CMO, Supergoop!: Britany oversees multiple teams across creative, brand and product marketing, driving strategy behind Supergoop!’s brand storytelling and global communications to ensure Supergoop!’s key priorities, values and vision appear across all touchpoints and business functions. A key member of Supergoop!’s leadership team, her work has been critical to the overall growth of the brand and delivery on Supergoop’s mission to change the way the world thinks about sunscreen.
Visionaries, hosted by Nadine Dietz, airs every week and is brought to you in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Each week, two new visionaries share their game plan and how that impacts today’s teams, talent, and hybrid work environment.
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