To introduce the new TRESemmé Pro Infusion Collection, Unilever wanted to convey freedom, motion and self-expression.
"We'd been seeing this fluid hair trend everywhere, especially on TikTok, and with celebrities like Kim Kardashian," says Jess Grigoriou, head of beauty marketing transformation for TRESemmé. "It's about this beautiful movement of hair, and so we leaned into the water metaphor to show the beauty of fluid hair that moved like water."
That led the brand to the USA Olympic Artistic Swimming Team.
What makes it more interesting, she tells Marketing Daily, is that the team rarely had that kind of hair freedom. Typically, she says they perform with their hair tucked into swim caps, and it's often treated with gelatin "to make sure it's stiff and doesn't move."
The spot, called Fluid, takes the swimmer's tresses in the opposite direction, liberating their locks in a beautiful ballet choreographed by Parris Goebel, an Primetime Emmy award winner best known for her work with Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Jennifer Lopez.
"She had never worked with swimmers before," says Grigoriou, who is also salon and masstige hair portfolio director.
The new line uses plant-based proteins and coconut oil to deliver what she calls the trifecta of fluidity: "Hair with intense shine, that's ultra-smooth and has liquid movement. We were inspired by that liberating feeling when you can let your hair out and just flow."
The ad is different enough that it requires a new media approach for the 70-year-old brand.
"We're always trying to recruit the next generation of users," Grigoriou says. "And while Gen Z is the biggest group on TikTok, it extends to all demographics. And the 'TikTok made me buy it' trend is very real."
It's also extending its reach into New York Fashion Week, including a salon activation that emphasizes fluidity.
And it's running the ad in cinemas since those artsy swimmers are "a good fit with theatrical ads."
Grigoriou says the out-of-home placements are special, too. "The swimmers kind of knock on the glass and almost seem to be interacting with people viewing them. We're shifting from high-mass-reach channels to places where we can show up in more engaging, meaningful ways."