As the first of several hair-color product entries expected from rivals including Revlon and L'Oreal, Clairol wanted to get a jump on the competition by creating word of mouth about its ammonia-free, organic plants-based product even before it hits store shelves nationwide.
Competition has become intense in the estimated $1.5 billion home hair-color market, but the fastest-growing segment is younger women who are using permanent color as a fashion statement.
"Media has become so fragmented that to get attention you have to get to these young women where they live, shop and play, so we have surrounded them," said Howard Steinberg, president of Westport, Conn.-based Source Marketing, which created the promotion.
Through an online promotional campaign that began this month, more than 100,000 consumers have already requested free samples from (www.herbalessenceshaircolor.com); thousands more are registering for the sweepstakes "Be the Attraction," with a grand prize of an all expenses-paid trip for four to the premiere of MGM's film "Legally Blonde," opening in July.
As the hair-color line begins to reach stores next week, Clairol takes the product to movie theaters, where in-lobby ads will promote the hair-color line along with the sweepstakes. A guerrilla-marketing campaign begins next month, where models sporting some of True Intense Color's 30 shades will appear to demonstrate the product on street corners, at campuses and in high-profile public venues in major cities.
Clairol hopes its surprise appearances in public with the hair- color models will break through the "bombardment" of beauty messages young women receive, said Clairol Senior Product Manager Andrew Davey. "We wanted to reach our consumer in a fresh new way."
Network and spot TV commercials, created by Clairol agency Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, break this summer; total advertising and promotional spending on the launch is expected to exceed $50 million.