Cross-Media Case Study: Clairol: Hair, There and Everywhere

Clairol's Perfect 10 pairs up with Harper's Bazaar to inspire new hair dos and don'ts

Clairol_OM_0311Since time immemorial (or rather since Gutenberg invented printable type), much has been written about a woman's primal bond with her child, but what about another bond that's just as fierce? Her relationship with her hair. So intense and unwavering is a woman's devotion to her crowning glory that oftentimes she will go to costly, sometimes even painful lengths, to make sure her tresses look like they're in tip-top shape.

According to a survey conducted last summer by top hair stylist Andrew Collinge, a woman will change her hairdo 104 different times during her life, with most of the changes occurring between the ages of 13 to 65. Small wonder that popular hair color brands, such as Clairol, are constantly tweaking long-standing products and developing new lines to appeal to their wide-reaching and obviously engaged demographic. (If you don't believe how important a woman's hair is to her identity, check out comic Chris Rock's 2009 documentary Good Hair, which explores in humorous detail how hair figures prominently in the psyches of African-American women).

But hair also has a synergistic relationship with fashion. It can provide the perfect visual complement to a woman's ever-evolving wardrobe. To further touch upon this dynamic, last July Clairol partnered up with Harper's Bazaar magazine to launch the "Find Your Color Perfection" program. The team, which comprises Clairol's three major creative agencies (Grey Group, Starcom Mediavest and Marina Maher Communications), as well as staff at its parent company, Procter & Gamble, "wanted to show Perfect 10 [the Clairol line that's the linchpin of the initiative] consumers and Harper's Bazaar readers the dramatic effect that hair color has on beauty and fashion and then give them the tools to bring the looks they see in books and on the runway to life," says Taylor Montgomery, Clairol Nice 'n Easy assistant brand manager. The program commenced with an in-book advertorial in the September 2010 issue.

To flesh out the campaign's tactics, the team developed a 360-degree communications plan, which, in addition to including in-book advertorials, also features custom online videos posted on and Among the topics discussed in these video vignettes are hair color tips, styling advice, behind-the-scenes glimpses into Fashion Week and expert tips on how to make hair and hair color a core part of a woman's look.

The team also developed an iPhone Perfect 10 ColorMyHair app, which allows women to use their own photos to try on different Perfect 10 shades in real time. For any woman who has always dreamed of being a glamorous blonde, sultry brunette or ravishing redhead but has lacked the courage to pour that all-too critical dye on her head, this mobile makeover can be highly enlightening. All she needs to do is download a photo of herself to the app, highlight her hair in the photo, pick a hair color from the line's selection of shades and presto - instant hair color change! She can also send the photo to a friend to get her thoughts on her hair color switcheroo. (The Web counterpart to this free makeover can be found on

So far, according to Montgomery, these multiplatform components "give Clairol Perfect 10 women the fashion and hair color content they love when and where she expects it." When asked why these specific media platforms were chosen for the program, she replies: "We sought to understand what kind of information [our target audience] needed about hair color and fashion and also where she liked to engage with it. From there it was easy: We just gave them what they asked for."

A highlight of the program was the unique partnership with designer Jill Stuart during the Fall 2010 Fashion Week. "This is the first time that a retail hair color has been able to sponsor a major designer during Fashion Week," notes Montgomery. "We wanted to give our Perfect 10 users and Harper's Bazaar readers not only the inside scoop into how the looks and trends for a hot fashion line are created, but also the role that hair and hair color play in inspiring those trends. Jill was a great partner, and it also helped that she uses Perfect 10 when she is on the road."

Another notable highlight was a four-page advertorial in the December issue of Harper's Bazaar that featured a Q&A with celebrity hair colorist Marie Robinson who offered suggestions on how women can find their perfect "hue" or shade of hair color. Readers who wished to get further tips on how to accentuate their look courtesy of Robinson were directed to Harper's Bazaar's Facebook page. They were also offered a chance to win a trip to New York City to meet Robinson, receive a private shopping tour with a stylist from Harper's Bazaar and check out the publication's extensive fashion inventory. (The contest, which was sponsored by the magazine's parent publisher, Hearst Communications, Inc., began on November 25, 2010 and ran through January 18, 2011.)

Yet as with every effort, the initiative did not come without its share of challenges. Montgomery says the biggest snag "was really drilling down into what kind of information our Perfect 10 women wanted to know about the interplay between fashion and hair color. It was here that the Harper's Bazaar team, especially associate merchandising director Pamela Simon, gave us the insight into how we could uniquely talk about hair color and fashion and then bring that to life."

Judging by how many eyeballs the program is estimated to draw in (over 26 million impressions), such challenges may evaporate in the face of reality. The program is slated to end this June.

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