Herd MSL Campaign Spotlight: Announcing Pantene’s first ever male ambassador, Christian Wilkins
By Elleny Kourtis
The challenge: Standing out in a crowd
Pantene is Australia’s #1 haircare brand but to stay at the top, it needed to ensure younger customers were engaged with the brand. This presents a challenge when the market is becoming increasingly cluttered with new brand and product launches continually competing for attention. Pantene was set to launch Pantene ‘Miracle Treatments’ – a conditioning treatment that repairs hair against heat styling.
Pantene’s Treatments launch offered a big opportunity for Pantene, given Australian Treatments were growing ahead of the haircare category, worth a whopping $65 million – but there were numerous competitors in this space.
The brief? Use the new product launch to engage 18-34 year-old women and make Pantene the go-to brand for Treatments.
Strategy: Embodying Extra
As a brand that believes in equality and the power of our differences, we knew there was an opportunity for Pantene to embrace this and stand out from the crowd. Diversity has been shown and seen before by beauty brands – hello, Dove’s ‘Real Women’. But how about a mass haircare brand being brave with diversity of sexuality and gender?
Pantene’s Miracle Treatment was specifically designed to protect-and-repair against heat damage. Allowing consumers to do extra styling and still have great hair.
And this got us thinking – not just about doing extra but daring to be extra.
So, for this product launch, we wanted to work with someone who authentically embodied extra – extra styling, extra personality, and extra great hair.
The Idea: A World First For Pantene
Combining our hunt for extra, whilst looking to engage a target audience that values diversity and authenticity, we knew it was time to step away from what was expected. As a household brand, Pantene plays a role shaping Australians’ perceptions of gender and beauty. It was time to make a bold statement.
We would introduce Aussie model, actor and member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Christian Wilkins, as Pantene Australia’s first ever male ambassador.
Execution: Dare to do Extra
The announcement was first made public to Christian’s 28,000 loyal Instagram followers, before press outreach commenced to key news, consumer lifestyle and beauty titles.
Making the announcement via Christian’s Instagram page created immediate widespread talkability from both influential public figures, who organically re-shared the post, and media, with a significant number of top tier media outlets covering the announcement.
To celebrate Christian’s ambassadorship with Pantene, we hosted an exclusive dinner at Nobu for Christian to invite his closest family and friends – organic attendees included Delta Goodrem and Jasmine Stefanovic. Photographs taken at the event prompted another wave of quality coverage within key entertainment, celebrity, and lifestyle publications.
We then used the buzz around Christian’s ambassadorship to launch Miracle Treatments at the Pantene #DareToDoXtra pop up salon. Media, influencers and consumers were invited to the pop-up, hosted by Christian, to trial the products and get a Pantene blow dry. This drove organic social coverage and a third wave of media coverage about the new range being Christian’s favourite Pantene products.
We were also able to ensure what consumers saw from a PR perspective was also featured in Pantene’s advertising, by securing Christian a spot as the key talent across Pantene’s TVC, in store and digital.
A Note On Bravery
Despite the success, the path to launch wasn’t easy. In appealing to a younger audience, we risked alienating some of Pantene’s most loyal customers.
Given Pantene’s strongest foothold was with women aged 40+ (statistically more conservative and less likely to support same sex marriage (ABC, 2017)), the risk of this ambassador was compounded. Just one-percentage-point-drop from offended customers would have serious consequences for a brand of that size.
But despite the risk, Pantene refused to be held back from progression. Instead of Pantene’s usual ‘serious’ tone, Christian was fun, extra and authentic. From riding giant styling tools in social ads to hosting fans in a Pantene salon using a hair dryer as a wind machine, Christian bought a new lease of life to the brand.
Impact and results: Pantene, cool once again
The launch saw:
- 4% Pantene penetration growth amongst under 40s versus same period previous year
- 100,000 organic reach – earned media
- 100% positive sentiment – earned coverage
- Christian’s social posts achieved 8.71% engagement (vs 0.86% beauty industry average)
- Social ads featuring Christian consistently beat benchmarks month-on-month.
- Awards: Silver PRIA Award. Shortlisted for B+T and AiMCO Awards.
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