Highbrid takes a similar approach to grassroots marketing in the ethnic community that a doctor or nurse might take with medication. Sure you can give a patient a pill and wait for it to eventually trickle down through the digestive system into the bloodstream, or you can intravenously inject that medication directly for maximum and immediate impact. Highbrid prescribes to the later. By using influencers or tastemakers in the targeted community to spread the brand messaging, you can get the immediate and maximum impact of intravenous inoculation into the bloodstream of the community. Barbers were perfect for that.
In the urban ethnic community, barbershops represent the country club for boys and men. It is a male dominated environment where camaraderie among men is built, news and gossip is shared. The ethnic barber is very loud, outgoing, and the barbershop represents his stage. As such, a potential 20 minute haircut might last an hour due to intermittent storytelling, amateur comedic routines, lunch breaks, and unscientific political polling. This lends the ethnic barbershop extremely long dwell times which create a petri-dish for grassroots marketing. This also affords fathers the bi-monthly opportunity to bond with their sons over PG13-esque conversations ranging from sports to politics to entertainment. The barbers are very competitive and their clientèle are extremely loyal. Despite no shortage of options often within a block radius, the ethnic male almost never dares to change their barber. Rare is the case where the faster, cheaper, but unknown risk is selected over consistency and piece-of- mind. For MetroPCS, this would represent ground zero for a campaign.
Each barbershop was hand selected using a number of key factors which included performance, proximity, and relationship with a high-performing MetroPCS corporate or dealer store. Throughout the program, the Highbrid team would nurture this relationship as a vital element in the program. For the barbershops, the relationship with a corporate brand like MetroPCS provided added legitimacy to the small businesses. Each shop was outfitted with MetroPCS branded swag including barber jackets, client capes, wireless chargers, and more. In exchange, corporate and dealer stores were able to install coded print collateral pieces throughout each barbershop directing customers to their store and educating them about the latest phone and service promotion. Additionally, shop owners were provided with the newest equipment for the purposes of demonstrating to customers.
Given the spring flight dates, we determined the campaign aligned perfectly with the end of school and we could capitalize on the excitement of parents and students getting ready for summer vacation. In collaboration with the MetroPCS marketing team, we decided to brand the campaign the “MetroPCS Academic Challenge 2016 End of School Celebration”. Free haircuts and prizes were given to students at all levels who were required to present an end-of- year report card showcasing academic excellence or improvement from the previous marking period. The participating barbershops promoted the program throughout the Spring via in-store collateral and most importantly, by word of mouth. This afforded us the opportunity to engage the entire community from April through June, empowering young people and incentivizing the community.
The week of June 24, the last week of school, families descended on the participating MetroPCS locations. Brand ambassadors manned a MetroPCS branded ice cream cart and distributed bars to all the children, a perfect treat during the hot weather New York was having. They also facilitated a really cool video game truck, complete with a 200" screen on the side to play age appropriate sports games. Inside, there was an expert face painter on-hand and children were able to play cornhole, fill their branded goodie bags with chocolate and candy, and of course redeem their voucher for their free haircut. Because all of the barbershops were within a one-block radius, it was a very short walk, and in some cases the barbershop was right next door.
The campaign was a huge success from a branding, traffic, community engagement and revenue perspective for all parties. The case study does a deeper dive into the qualitative and quantitative measurements as well as the ROI. For MetroPCS, they continue to win the ground game in a very competitive mobile carrier market by providing the greatest value to the multicultural community on a grassroots level. Click on the link below to download the full case study. We welcome your thoughts, questions and feedback.