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One haircare marketer is trying two approaches to a hot-button issue in a new ad campaign.

Kenra, a marketer of hair and grooming products, is testing different 30-second TV spots for its Elasta QP haircare brand. Both take a straight-forward approach to the issue of personal beauty image among African-American women.

One takes a serious look at unrealistic beauty standards and the other a humorous look at "good" vs. "bad" hair. The spots are now being aired in selected test markets through September.


The spot called "Freedom" features an African-American model with straight hair and Caucasian features. As she poses, titles fade in, reading "All your life, you've been told there's one kind of beautiful. And you're not it. Haven't we fought too hard for freedom to become slaves to fashion?" Then real women with a variety of hairstyles are shown, and a voice-over directs, "Wear your hair any way you want."

The other spot takes a more lighthearted view, using line-drawing animation of hairstyles as a voice-over declares "From day one, we've been told there's two kinds of hair: good hair and bad hair. We agree: there are two kinds of hair-yours and anyone else's."

Both spots end with the tagline: "Your hair. Your style. Your choice."

While they are different, both commercials have the same message and spring from a common positioning, said Bob McGee, VP-marketing. Kenra's market research found the issue of haircare carried a great sensitivity among African-American women.

"The message [to them] was the same: 'look beautiful, look [like] the stereotypical beauty,' " said Mr. McGee. "There was an unmistakable opportunity to tell the story a different way."

Young & Laramore, Indianapolis, created the campaign, the first significant foray into advertising for Kenra. The 20-year-old company also makes Kenra haircare products and depilatories for the general market.

Campaign plans call for expanding the Elasta effort regionally next year, according to Gina Lang, account supervisor at Young & Laramore.


The two spots are airing on cable TV's BET and spot TV. Promotions in Wal-Mart Stores support the TV effort.

The Elasta campaign is part of Kenra's decision to refocus its marketing strategy and aggressively market all of its brands.

Although Mr. McGee wouldn't disclose figures, he did say that the budget for the Elasta campaign is "20 times more media money than this company [totally] has

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