Digital is far too successful for this Jozi company!

hairdressers - ladies

A hairdressing business marked the opening of a store in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg by offering a promotion with jamaican black castor oil to 30 customers and their friends and got well over 50 000 responses, and in the process could have put out of business. The offer was for a free treatment and chance to be involved in a prize draw for a years worth of free hair treatment. The mail was sent on November 5 and got well over 50 000 application by November 16.

This was the email that went out.

“Well, I hereby formally invite you to indulge yourself at our new Gary Rom Hairdressing salon at Melrose Arch and experience this exciting new concept in South African shopping. All you have to do is forward this e-mail to 10 of your friends and be sure to copy/cc our GM, Mike – – and you will receive an electronic voucher for a complimentary Kérastase ritual treatment in our sound-proof cabine, as well as a blow dry, valued at over R500!

But wait, there’s more!  Once you have redeemed your voucher at Gary Rom Hairdressing at Edgars Melrose Arch, you will automatically be entered into a prize draw where one lucky winner will receive a year’s free hair services and products, valued at over R 40 000.00!  This fantastic prize will be drawn live at the Edgars Melrose Arch salon at 6:00pm on Thursday 4 February 2010.”

By November 9 to honour the response would have driven them out of business.

This the post that was posted on their website on November 16.

“Since we published our public apology last Monday (9 Nov), this viral campaign has snowballed even further and we have now officially received more than 50,000 applications for a voucher for a treatment and a blow dry.  We have also received a whole lot of criticism for being naive on the nicest end of the insult scale, to being conmen on the opposite side of that scale.”

What at total embarrassment  for the naive Gary Rom, what a fantastic demo of the power of the internet and email.

Posted on November 20, 2009 at 1:09 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink
In: Marketing, social media · Tagged with: , , , ,
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  • arthurcharlesvanwyk

    It's funny how people will gladly ask for help in some areas but not in others. If they had someone guiding them into this space, the effects would have been anticipated and they'd know how to deal with it. I trust a lesson was learnt and they won't shy away from marketing via digital channels now.

    • Walter Pike

      Yeah, I used this in a talk I gave on the 17th as an example of effectiveness. There is really nothing negative – just how it was managed. Its great to have a home grown case study to work with that proves effectiveness in South Africa.

      Yip – they certainly needed guidance.

  • Knivy

    Oh yes, you gotta love e-mail!
    Great post, great testimonial for successful viral marketing.

  • nicp

    Well, what were they expecting?

  • Melissa Attree

    From being in the biz I know that Gary is one of the savviest marketers and businessmen in the hairdressing industry. Nice to see them trying new techniques…it's all a learning curve I guess.
    Hey, if you don't try you'll never know, so perhaps just some more controlled T&C next time :)

    • Walter Pike

      Mel – I am sure that you are correct, and great kudos for trying new techniques (… and naive rather than conmen) :)

      • mikeherbert

        Hi Mel, long time. You're absolutely right. Believe it or not, this campaign was recommended by a PR company (friend of a friend) and I even added to the T&Cs before it was sent out. The “success” of this campaign – i.e. from a number of responses perspective – was not because of digital/internet/e-mail but rather because of 2 other factors. 1) the profile of the 27 people that we initially sent it to – i.e. word-of-mouth referrals from people that you like or respect; and 2) Gary's and GRH's reputation.
        What I'm concerned about is Walter's one line of criticism at the end of this post, without any constructive feedback from an academic perspective, or any comment on our efforts to make good our promise to the 50,000 responders…
        I've invited Walter to meet with me today…let's see if he's available…

        • Walter Pike


          Those comments are for a follow up post, at the moment I want to make the point that digital works (even in South Africa) because I hear over and over again that its not important here.

          Viral is more a measure of success than a definition of a technique.

          The point of all this is that the internet is word of mouth on steroids, no matter all the other factors you mention WOM comes from:

          Finding the talkers.
          Giving them something to talk about.
          Giving them a way to talk about it.

          You had that all correct – but it was the rest of the network effect that worked – not only the 27 and their friends – but their friends friends etc that took this viral.

          I would love to take you up on your invite – Europa at 2:30? I have to drop my daughter off at a party will be around there then.

          • mikeherbert

            2.30 it is – I'll have a laptop open in front of me.

  • philanimdingi

    What a Bloop! But a great ad for the power of email marketing.

  • mermaidnix

    Perhaps they should honour the vouchers, but engage the Department of Motor vehicle Licences to do the bookings!

  • mikeherbert

    Mr Pike. How about we sit and have a beer at Europa at Melrose Arch this afternoon some time? And we can discuss your definitions of “embarrassment”, “naive” and “fantastic”…

    • Walter Pike

      sounds great – thanks for the response :) – this must have caused you some head aches so maybe our definitions are different.

      • mikeherbert

        Right, I'll be at Melrose Arch this afternoon, from midday onwards, either at our salon in the cosmetics section of Edgars, or in my “office” at Europa (John or Evan will point me out). Look forward to seeing you.
        My number is 083-700-2793.
        If anyone else is interested in getting it from the horse's mouth, you're also welcome.

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