P&G-owned haircare brand Pantene took the WARC Media Awards Grand Prix for Tech with a campaign that used AI image analysis at scale to find potential hair donors across Israel on Instagram.

Why it matters

It’s an example of technology being used to activate and further the brand’s purpose of granting every woman receiving cancer treatment a real wig of real hair. It’s smart, surprisingly simple, loud and effective.

“Tech was at the centre of the campaign”, said Dara Treseder SVP, Head of Global Marketing and Communications, Peloton, who served as chair of the tech category judges.

WARC Media Awards

For the full insights, read the Grand-Prix-Winning case study here: Pantene: BrA.I.ds of Strength
Find all the winners of the Effective Use of Tech category here.

“This was tech for good. Pantene completely stayed in its lane and [was] able to think about how it used tech to further its brand’s purpose in a really effective way. When we think about AI and crawling the internet, we think about the harm, but they leaned into the positive.”

Led by the agencies MediaCom Connections Tel-Aviv and Stern Ariely Saar PR, Pantene Israel’s campaign situates its efforts in the need to take its impact on society to another level.

The Beautiful Lengths initiative wasn’t new to the brand, but increasing donations was proving tough. Unlike financial donations, hair takes months or years to grow and the loss of eight inches of hair (around 20cm) meant that donors needed a radical change of look.

Its killer insight was that to find a fresh pool of donors, the best strategy would be to find people who already met the donation requirements but just didn’t know it yet. Here’s the clever part.

To find potential donors on Instagram, most popular social media platform among the target audience of women aged between 14 and 35, the campaign used AU to scan every photo in Israel and find people with hair that was at least eight inches long. As judge Tom Mackenzie, Global Innovation Director at PHD Global Business put it: “that smart media targeting was super smart.” Once identified, this audience of Instagram users could be targeted with a call to action encouraging them to donate hair to a good cause.

This was combined with retail partnerships featuring smart mirrors capable of identifying people with enough hair, and personal calls to action from cancer patients who had received wigs who appeared during hair tutorials for long hair care.

Mass media partnerships with leading national TV stations and websites boosted the message, while the offer of free haircuts across the country for those looking to donate brought the campaign the sense of a movement.

In total, targeted messages reached 1.5 million women over the two months that the campaign was live. Crucially, the tech was not for show: 2019’s drive brought in 15% more donations than in 2018, allowing the brand to produce 14,000 more wigs.

Lessons learnt

  • Purpose-driven marketing can be exciting. Both from an advertising practitioner’s point of view and for the consumer; many women donated who likely would never have known that there was such an initiative. The campaign facilitated people’s altruism.
  • Even controversial tech can be used right. Smart as the use of image recognition was, the campaign demonstrated how it can be hyper specific to an audience and how it can be used to broadcast the movement nationwide.

Sourced from WARC