Lessons in marketing from Carrie Bickmore’s hair change

Carrie Bickmore

Carrie Bickmore with The Project co-hosts Waleed Aly and Peter Helliar at the 2016 Logie Awards in May. Source: AAP Image/Joe Castro

Bets are being placed on how long The Project anchor Carrie Bickmore’s new brunette hair colour will last, but there are marketing lessons for small business hidden in this tale of tresses.

Monday’s edition of the Channel 10 news program unveiled the star’s new look – a switch from blonde to dark brunette – and over 300 people weighed in on the shade that night on Facebook and other social media. Fans posted passionate reactions, ranging from love to hate to “utter shock” as they argued about how long the change will last.

But there was more to the makeover than the popular presenter needing a change. As Mumbrella reported yesterday, the move is part of a broader campaign using the face of Garnier to highlight the brand’s range of at-home hair dye hues.

Many viewers picked up on the link early, too. “More proof of how utterly shallow modern commercial media can be,” said one fan on social media.

Others were dubious that the at-home hair colour kits would work as well for those outside the TV studio. “Ok, I just saw the new hair colour add [sic] with Carrie,” one Facebook user wrote. “Irresponsible advertising!!!!! If you are blonde, please do not try and go brunette with that brunette on the box you will go GREEN!!!!!!!!!”

Social media expert Catriona Pollard tells SmartCompany that the integration of The Project’s TV brand, Garnier and Bickmore’s likeability should make business owners think about how they can team up with other organisations for promotions that feed into each other.

“Lululemon do a similar thing with community groups and yoga, using people’s experiences to promote the brand,” she says.

“It might be an industry group you’re working with, it might be a community group, but think about how you can reach out to others to get brand awareness across a range of groups.”

However, one thing you do lose control of in this type of marketing is the brand itself, from the minute you invite viewer’s opinions on a change.

“Whatever you put out there, you are always going to get positive and negative responses once you add something like this with public comments,” Pollard adds.

When demonstrating a product you want to find a promoter that has high visibility, says brand strategist Leah Bridge of Golden Goose Consulting.

“When creating a campaign around a person I would first look at who I was targeting and then target an influencer – someone who is seen literally every day,” she tells SmartCompany.

While the brand match in this case is a good one, with Bickmore having previously fronted campaigns for Garnier’s skin care products, Bridge believes Garnier will have to pivot on their strategy pretty quickly to avoid fatigue.

“I think the ultimate impact on the brand will be positive, but there’s definitely a timeline on social media for these kinds of things. I think about two weeks. Then people will get used to it, and they will have to come up with a new marketing strategy,” she says.

Many of the social media fights over Bickmore’s hair have focused on whether an at-home product would look as good on the average punter as it does on a TV anchor. Bridge says that doesn’t matter as much as understanding who your target audience is and what they are likely to be thinking.

“And I think that would be, ‘Carrie’s hair can handle it’. It’s about proving their at-home products can withstand major style changes, so I would think her audience would think: ‘For $20? I’ll give it a go’,” Bridge says.


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Jan Deane
Jan Deane
5 years ago

“And I think that would be, ‘Carrie’s hair can handle it’. It’s about proving their at-home products can withstand major style changes, so I would think her audience would think: ‘For $20? I’ll give it a go’,” Bridge says.”

Please don’t. As social media posts have already warned – do not try this at home. Very cynical marketing exercise with disastrous results highly likely. Not cool at all.

5 years ago

I am shocked. There are 300 people who watch that crap ?