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Media 10 Questions Coty

10 questions with... Amy Kean, head of strategic innovation at Starcom


By Stephen Lepitak | -

August 7, 2017 | 6 min read

The Drum seeks out and talks to some of the most interesting people working in the global media and marketing sector in an effort to get to know them better. This week's 10 Questions are put to Amy Kean, the newly appointed vice president of planning and strategy at Beamly, the Coty owned digital marketing firm, who talks about her industry pet hate, Facebook and buzzwords.

Amy Kean
Amy Kean, vice president of strategy & planning, Beamly

Amy Kean

Amy Kean, vice president of strategy & planning, Beamly

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Amy Kean and I’m VP, strategy and planning for Beamly. We sit inside the Coty business, so I spend my days working out how to sell brilliant beauty products in interesting and innovative ways, all over the world.

What was your first ever job?

I was the voice of customer announcements in IKEA Thurrock at the age of 16. This was when I assumed I’d grow up to be a children’s TV presenter, so it felt like good practice. But my first grown-up job was at the IAB in 2004 running events and setting up the PR department. I remember being asked at the time if I thought online marketing would become big. My response was: “Um, no” because back then pop-ups were still the most dominant display format. I later changed my mind. Although based on the state of much mobile advertising these days I might change it back again.

Why did you get into this industry?

I’m obsessed with people. People are strange and clever and stupid and were made to be bombarded with ads about bouncy hair and self-actualisation. Advertising is the art of manipulation and it never stops being interesting.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Sarah Wood, co-founder and CEO of Unruly, once shared some words of wisdom with me about gender roles in business. She said: “at Unruly we don’t talk about having ‘women on the board’, we just talk about having the right mix of personalities. They may be women, men, whoever’s right for the job - but it’s the personalities that are important.” It’s something I’ve always remembered! Don’t be afraid to be yourself and protect your personality. For women, you don’t need to act like a man to get ahead, and in my view the ‘women on the board’ argument is an absolute red herring; we need to think broader.

What is the coolest thing you have seen in the last year in marketing?

I’ve just moved back to the UK from Asia where every country has a different kind of cool. In South Korea I saw an entire high street store dedicated to the messaging app Line. That people will walk up and down four storeys buying cuddly toys, shower curtains, phone covers and t-shirts based on an actual messaging app is ridiculous and brilliant. Brands across APAC have had their own Line accounts for years: creating chatbots before chatbots even became a thing.

What do you hate most about the industry?

We talk too much. Do we really need that many panel sessions? These days I talk about 30% less than I did five years ago.

Who is the person you most want to meet?

In the universe? Beyonce. But in the industry, I’ve been always been a huge fan of David Puttnam. He champions education, equality, creativity, immigration…he lectures on climate change… I’d love to meet him,thank him and shake his hand, try and give him a hug.

If you could go to one marketing event this year which would you choose?

Silicon Beach in Bournemouth will blow your mind. The organiser Matt Desmier briefs people to ‘say something interesting’ and the speakers always deliver. In the pastI’ve seen presentations on robots, religion, personalisation and the impact of social media on eating disorders. Bournemouth is a lovely hub for advertising intelligence – I used to lecture at Bournemouth university and was hugely inspired by the creative energy there.

What is your favourite social media platform?

Facebook. I know I’m uncool and people are always saying it’s dying blah blah blah but Facebook is a beautiful platform and always has been: it’s innovative, entertaining, easy to use and you’d be very naive to think the powerhouses at the top won’t continue to evolve based on what users want. Last week in Facebook Messenger I took a picture of a cat sitting on my head but - the cat was not real, it was a lens! Facebook will never die. I’d put money on it but given my own inevitable mortality I’m not sure when I’d see the pay-out.

If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be?

I’d ban a lot of people using the term ‘influencer’because it’s become jargon unnecessarily. Influence isn’t just about reach: it refers to authority, conformity and tribal behaviours. Influencer marketing has technically existed for centuries yet is dismissed as a fad. The term may suffer the same fate as ‘gamification’ which is a real psychological theory that got misused; people became bored of it and then turned it into a joke. Concepts like influence and gamification have been studied at length by academics; they flop because marketing people mess it up, not because they’re not powerful ideas.

The Drum's weekly 10 Questions With... series of interviews will continue next Monday.

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