Cannes Lions

Headstrong Ads


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Head & Shoulders (H&S) knows that confidence is what it takes to make it, which is why ensuring itch, flakes, and doubt don’t get in the way of that confidence is core to what we do. That’s why we launched a new brand campaign called Headstrong, which we think is the ultimate form of confidence. But, like dandruff, Headstrong has a stigma. So we’re redefining Headstrong as a positive: someone who lets nothing get in their way.

We wanted to take advantage of Super Bowl as a launch moment for redefining the meaning of the word Headstrong, our new brand campaign, but we couldn’t afford a spot in the national game. We needed to find a way to break through the clutter while driving a love of the brand among consumers while growing key markets in the process


Every year the same companies advertise during the Super Bowl. Companies that we’ve all heard of and, quite frankly, don’t need the exposure. But what about the little guys? What about the Headstrong local business owners who are trying to do something unique in this world? Couldn’t they use that kind of attention?

So instead of defining Headstrong by making a Super Bowl commercial for ourselves, we acted Headstrong by making Super Bowl campaigns for three Headstrong people who started local businesses that went against the grain and ran them in their local markets. We shined a light on real stories from real places to appeal to human interest while acting Headstrong to help define it.


With spots only running in three markets, our strategy had to be Headstrong, too. We narrowed our business owner search to Houston, Atlanta, and Kansas City because they were key growth markets and deeply relevant to the Super Bowl (Houston and Kansas City were playoff contenders; Atlanta hosted).

We pitched the campaign as a human-interest story of hometown heroes redefining Headstrong to newspapers and micro-influencers across the country, while also talking Big helping Small (Head & Shoulders not only gave produced Super Bowl spots, they also promoted their phone numbers and businesses across social, increased their SEO ranking


We executed this campaign in less than 30 days.

Teasers ran nationally on Instagram, Facebook and programmatic video the week before.

We took over the business owners’ hometowns with ads on diner placemats, local influencers’ feeds, and full-page newspaper ads in Houston Chronicle, Kansas-City Starr and Atlanta Journal-Constitution on game day. The spreads ran adjacent to articles telling our business owners’ stories.

The commercials ran first quarter, following H&S’s :30 brand anthem that provides context for the campaign. We responded on Twitter to excited locals who recognized the businesses. With AdBlitz, our :30 local spots were aligned with Bud Light and Amazon.

The following day, our Texas Headstrong businesswoman went on GMA and Strahan & Sara for a paid integration where she discussed her Super Bowl debut and working with H&S. We also re-created her business, Smash Therapy, with a live demo installation on GMA.


This campaign drove coverage and social chatter that’s usually reserved for big, national brands--while growing the business of all parties involved.

· Activated markets grew sales 4x faster vs. total market for H&S

· H&S Share of the shampoo category grew 25%

· H&S grew 8x faster than it has in the past 10 years

· 800 media placements across local and national news (for context, Tide’s 2017 “It’s a Tide Ad” got 660)

· 99% positive social sentiment. Commenters specifically acknowledged H&S’s decision to give Headstrong business owners a platform on the biggest night in sports (and advertising)

· 400MM earned impressions, exceeding goals

· Headstrong business owners saw 300%+ site traffic increase and 40% increase in bookings

· Time spent on increased from 2 minutes to 9, with 98% site traffic coming from new visitors

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