Unilever Sunsilk push to focus on fun

Unilever is introducing Sunsilk, its most successful global hair care brand, to US consumers through a concept called Hairapy.

Unilever is introducing Sunsilk, its most successful global hair care brand, to US consumers through a concept called Hairapy.

CHICAGO: With Hairapy, Unilever has chosen to move away from the current marketing trend in the highly-competitive hair care category. Rather than follow brands in the space that are focusing on the technology and ingredients behind a product and its functional benefits, Unilever wants to inform while having fun.

"There's a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo about how companies have added this and added that for X benefit and the beautiful glorious hair flips that make all the commercials look the same," Tracey Thiele, communications marketing manager at Unilever. "We're skipping through all of the BS and the scientific stuff and taking the conversation to a different place. We're talking to the consumer not only about her hair, but her life and that opens up a lot of different opportunities for us."

Thiele said the company's target consumer, the 25-year-old female, "just wants to know the product works" and that Unilever will convey that message in its promotions and marketing efforts, while having some fun along the way.

Unilever is counting on the Sunsilk Hairapy Guys to do that. The three-man team is a reiteration of the "best gay guy friend characters that are on shows like Sex and the City and Will & Grace," Thiele said.

"We have the position of being a serious problem-solving hair care brand, but we don't take ourselves too seriously," Thiele said. "What we want to do with this brand is address the hair care problems they have and make them laugh at the same time."

The Sunsilk Hairapy Guys were introduced at a party in New York on July 13. Unilever also hosted an online Hairapy Happy Hour on July 28.

Over the next few months the Sunsilk Hairapy Guys will be featured in a variety of magazines including InTouch, Cosmopolitan and Star, where they will have their own weekly column.

Thiele said the Sunsilk Hairapy Guys will not only talk to girls about hair care, but will offer advice on their careers and relationships as well.

They will also be on Movie and a Makeover on TBS. Love Bites, a scripted micro-series of three minute sitcom interstitials will also appear on TBS during shows like Sex and the City in September. The Hairapy guys will be featured in ads for VH1's Flavor of Love 2 starting August 2.

The product became available in the US on June 26. Advertising broke that same week.

Weber Shandwick is handling PR for the year-long campaign and J Walter Thompson is managing the advertising. Other Unilever hair care products include Dove, Suave and ThermaSilk.

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