Cell Phones, Web Are Essence of Clairol Campaign

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Clairol unit is using the Web and cell phones to reach teen girls and young women for its Herbal Essences hair-care brand.

Through m-Qube's mobile content and messaging platform, Clairol offers Herbal Essences-themed ring tones and wallpaper for cell phones. The idea is to create a bond between the brand and consumers at ease with the wireless and Web mediums.

“It's the first cross-carrier mobile storefront for a major packaged-goods brand in North America,” said Mike Troiano, senior vice president of client development at m-Qube, Boston.

Consumers register on www.herbalessences.com/mobile with their e-mail address, password and profile details to join Club Herbal and Herbal Mobile. For $2 apiece they can buy a ring tone or a wallpaper of their choice online. The purchased item is sent to the buyer's cell phone and charges added to the consumer's wireless bill.

“They're interested in driving registrations for Club Herbal,” Troiano said.

Herbal Mobile members gain other benefits, too. They can send text messages to friends, receive hair-care alerts and participate in a compatibility quiz.

A key application in this effort is the ability to let users text in questions to the “Oracle of Essence.” Consumers text the word “herbal” to a designated number to get the answer on the phone. Answers are similar to a Magic 8 ball's: yes, no, maybe, definitely, absolutely and try again.

M-Qube partnered with interactive agency Apperture, Cincinnati, to create the herbalessences.com/mobile microsite. The site is not WAP-enabled, meaning consumers cannot buy directly from their cell phone handset.

A recent acquisition of Cincinnati-based P&G, Clairol produces shampoo, conditioners, hair color and other styling products. Its latest push will mesh with its new marketing campaign taglined, “Never Underestimate the Power of Herbal.”

“They're trying to reach their target in a medium they perceive as their own,” Troiano said. “People in this age group use their cell phone as a mechanism of branding themselves. The ring tone use, the wallpaper — it says something of who they are to the people that are around them.”

With branches in Redmond, WA, and Toronto, m-Qube offers a single interface for connectivity, a content catalog, application development, monitoring, billing and delivery. It lets brands deliver ring tones, games, images and messages to consumers through ties with the nation's leading wireless carriers.

Others using m-Qube's technology include Warner Bros. Records, Canada's MuchMusic channel, Virgin Mobile Canada, World Wrestling Entertainment and Rhino Records. They pay a fee for development, and m-Qube shares the revenue generated from site sales with its carrier partners.

“The important thing about this model is that not everything for the consumer is free,” Troiano said. “There is something in it for the carrier.”

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