'When it snowed, we were definitely sweating a little!' - Behind the Campaign, Heineken haircuts

Adam Clyne, CEO and founder of Coolr, gives the lowdown on the agency's 'Shear Genius' campaign for Heineken.

What was the campaign in a nutshell?

Heineken celebrated the re-opening of pubs and hairdressers by hosting pop-ups in pub gardens so visitors could enjoy a pint while getting a haircut. On 12 April outdoor hospitality and hairdressers in England opened after four months of lockdown. The 'Shear Genius!' activation featured mobile hairdressing units set up in pub gardens in London and the West Midlands, so customers didn’t have to choose between a having a pint and getting a trim.

How did the idea come into being?

With the lifting of lockdown, Heineken approached us asking how we could celebrate pubs opening in the UK, with a unique point of view and clever wit that’s intrinsic to the brand tone of voice.

We knew people were looking forward to socialising over a pint, but they only had to look at their Zoom screens to realise that they also desperately needed something else: a haircut. There were long waiting lists at every salon and hairdressers, so we thought of an idea that would let our customers have the best of both worlds: a refreshing pint and a free haircut from a celebrity hairdresser. Securing Michael Douglas as our hairstylist (who is also an influencer) was a huge hit and helped spread the word even further.

What ideas were rejected?

We explored quite a few territories, but then we had the insight that people had been waiting for a pint and a haircut and wouldn’t be able to do both on the same day. Sometimes you land on the idea and it feels right straight away and in this case it felt right for us and the client.

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process

Once we knew when pubs were reopening, we realised we had just four weeks to turn the project around. We presented first stage creative ideas in mid-March and were live on Monday 12 April. Light speed!

As the expression goes, a great success has many authors and that’s definitely the case with this campaign. The initial concept for this came from our creative team (Lewis Plummer and Pubali Bardhan-Dickens), and was then refined and activated by various people in Coolr across production and social (Charlotte Gladwin, Mark Daw, James Parker, George Brett and Philippa Langdon).

Cow PR helped to activate from a media perspective; and of course none of this is possible without an amazing client team who backed the idea.

What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

With the phased reducing of lockdown, like many businesses, we were working with uncertain dates but once this was confirmed, we hit the ground running. We wanted to be live with the pop-up on the day that pubs and salons opened in order to be hyper-relevant, so it was a vital to get everything (the pub, the hair stylist, the airstream) ready to go. Doing something quickly but keeping the premium brand feel is also a challenge.

When it snowed in the morning, we were definitely sweating a little! But luckily the sun came out to play in the end.

How did you measure the results and what were they?

While it was important for the events to be a success, which judging by all the new fresh trims we saw they were, this is also part of a wider social activation. We want to raise awareness of what Heineken is doing, inspiring brand love and social engagements. Our event wrap film is due to go live imminently, after which we’ll have a full set of results.

What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

The success of this idea was in both its simplicity as well as its ability to hit on a strong consumer insight: that after lockdown 3.0, we were really all dying for a pint and a haircut!

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