Adam Kornblum, vp and head of global digital marketing at CeraVe, is always looking at the bigger picture.
Kornblum oversees 43 different global websites for the 17-year-old brand. He’s also instrumental in bringing the dermatology-focused brand into newfound cultural relevance through social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok. L’Oréal Group acquired CeraVe in 2017 from Valeant alongside AcneFree and Ambi for $1.3 billion. At the time of the purchase, all three brands were noted as having a combined revenue of $168 million. Flash forward to 2021, CeraVe reached $1 billion in sales, according to L’Oréal Group’s fourth-quarter and 2021 year-end earnings reported in February. The earnings call revealed CeraVe grew sales year-over-year by 75% and became the No. 3 brand by sales in the dermocosmetics market. The brand’s U.S. market alone grew by 55% year-over-year.
Kornblum said his digital efforts go beyond building a brand to include building a culture. He wanted to take the message of being a functional dermatologist-developed brand and put it “front and center.” Getting the brand in front of people was another matter.
“Part of turning this brand into something that’s cultural is finding the brand’s best self,” said Kornblum. “It’s about showing who we are. Once you find [the brand’s] best self, it becomes a bit easier to communicate who we are and what we stand for.”
The importance of TikTok to the brand’s digital strategy over the last two years cannot be understated. The CeraVe marketing team aggressively monitors social media to look for relevant cultural moments in which to insert the brand. On TikTok, amid the advent of DermTok, CeraVe presented itself in a fun and engaging way while still retaining its derm-approved authority. CeraVe has over 317,000 followers on its own branded TikTok account, and the #CeraVe hashtag has been viewed more than 1.7 billion times.
There have also been key moments on other social platforms, like Twitter, where the brand has over 43,000 followers. In Jan. 2020, when actor-writer-director Tyler Perry made a comment about needing to moisturize, Tom Allison, founder of CeraVe, responded by offering to Perry send some of the brand’s products. Perry responded. Allison’s tweet to Perry garnered 30,700 “likes” and nearly 2,000 retweets. Though Twitter is not typically a go-to platform for the beauty industry, Kornblum sees the value in conversing with dermatology communities active on the platform.
“I’m a purebred guerrilla marketer mixed with being a digital native,” said Kornblum. “Marketers have access to the same data and the same information. But at the end of the day, it’s really about how someone analyzes it, interprets it and then makes it actionable [that makes them different].”
This mentality also extends to his team, said Kornblum. He encourages the CeraVe team to embody the mental agility of professional athletes by advocating for quick reactions — like the Perry tweet — even going so far as to have the CeraVe team wear blue Jordan sneakers at the American Academy of Dermatology conference in March. He said this sports comparison extends to his goal for the next 12 months, as he hopes to make CeraVe the Nike of the skin-care space. Kornblum is currently building CeraVe’s international branding to mirror the cultural relevance it has found in the U.S.
“The goal is for everyone to come to the table every day like they are at a game and are the Michael Jordan of whatever their expertise is,” he said. “[Let’s have them] wear the shoes and dunk over everybody. It sounds lofty, but we want to be No. 1 in every aspect of digital.”
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