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Sally Beauty embraces vivid hair color and self-expression in new ads

TikTok creator and musician Hannah Chelan inspired Sally Beauty’s new marketing campaign. She shared a song about colored hair that went viral on the social media platform.

Sally Beauty Holdings

When Sally Beauty employees saw a viral video on TikTok in the spring, they realized they had found the right inspiration to fuel its business strategy.

In the video, Heather Chelan sang a catchy tune that celebrated her colored hair. Its refrain was one that many have embraced: “Having colored hair doesn’t make you unprofessional.”

It has become the beauty retailer’s new anthem as it launches a marketing campaign and puts hair color — especially vivid colors — front and center. During the pandemic, Sally Beauty has reached out to Gen Z consumers on TikTok and YouTube. It has watched sales of bright colors and textured hair products jump. The company is betting that people’s desire for authenticity will outlast the health crisis, even as they return to social events and office cubicles.

“It really comes down to self-expression,” CEO Christian Brickman said. “The office is changing. Life is changing. Work is changing. … It was happening before and the pandemic gave it a kick in the butt.”

Vivid colors are now part of his look, too. His white hair is tinged with jade and shamrock in the front. “It does add a new dynamic to the boardroom,” he said.

A video spot, which debuts Friday, features Chelan and her jingle. It also includes the brightly colored locks of other people that Sally Beauty discovered through social media — including Glecy Barquirin, a pediatric nurse, and 92-year-old Helen van Winkle, whose white hair has a tint of lavender — and the company’s own CEO.

Chelan said her lyrics were inspired by her own purple hair and how she got turned down from a few jobs as a restaurant server because of it. Her experimentation began with a plum-colored Afro at age 18.

“Once I did that, I thought ‘I can never go back again,'” she recalled.

At a launch event for the marketing campaign, Joey Jay, a drag queen and contestant on VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” strutted through a New York City bar like it was a runway. Donning bright yellow hair, Jay said the pandemic — and the growth of remote work — makes old corporate dress codes seem stuffy.

“These employee handbooks, I think we are going to start throwing these away,” he said.

Sally Beauty kicked off its new marketing campaign with a launch party in New York City. It featured Joey Jay, a drag queen and contestant on the TV show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Melissa Repko

Retail challenges

Sally Beauty has long been known for selling hair color, styling tools and other beauty products. It has two sides of the business: Sally Beauty Supply, a chain of stores that draw customers and independent stylists, and Beauty Systems Group, which caters to salon professionals. Its core business is professional hair color, along with related accessories like capes, clippers and deep conditioner. Altogether, the Denton,…

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Sally Beauty embraces vivid hair color and self-expression in new ads