Duel of 'dos on the Web

By Published on .

Call it Iron Hairdresser.

Unilever's Helene Curtis Dec. 6 cranks Celebrity Challenge, a Webcast with mtv.com pitting two celebrity hairstylists in a head-to-head competition similar to the Food Network's "Iron Chef" cooking competition.

The challenge is an extension of Salon Selectives' $40 million "See it. Do it." campaign launched this summer by J. Walter Thompson, Chicago. Overall marketing spending this year, including advertising, promotion and trade spending, is $80 million, according to Diggi Thomson, North American brand director for Salon Selectives.

Stylists participating in the challenge have 20 minutes to create a hairdo based on an inspiration selected by the audience but not shared with the stylist beforehand.

A panel of three celebrity judges along with the in-studio and online audiences will award points based on creativity, quality of style and "entertainment value." Emcee comedienne Kathy Griffin and the brand's high-profile Hollywood hairstylist, Richard Marin, will interact with both audiences, giving commentary.

"We're trying to introduce fun fashion to hair care," said Mr. Thomson, noting that the site uses an "expert girlfriend" voice while most other brands employ a high-fashion positioning.

To draw "free spirited" women ages 24 to 28 to register for the Webcast, the marketer sent e-mails to 600,000 women and ran print ads in 25 college and alternative newspapers. Banner ads and promotional copy are also running on the helenecurtis.com and mtv.com Web sites.

Doug Rozen, partner-director, digital@jwt, Chicago, said the helenecurtis.com site, relaunched in September, draws 100,000 unique visitors a month. According to Jupiter Media Metrix, an Internet-audience measurement service, the Helene Curtis site has not had statistically significant traffic during the past year. The Webcast will be archived for six months at the brand's Web site.

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