Hairdressing and Advertising …


I remember reading something somewhere (how is that for a citation …) that compared the advertising industry to the hairdressing industry. Obsessed with youth, obsessed with trends, and obsessed with meaningless awards.

I didn’t really agree with this but I got me thinking that there are many similarities between the two, not in a negative sense. Why did I think about this? Well … I am moving from Sydney to Melbourne and I was wondering who would cut my hair when I get there (yes, focusing on the big issues … I have curly hair and a challenging hairline so a good hairdresser is important to maintain the public illusion of basic presentability)

It’s easy to find a competent hairdresser. They’re everywhere. But a good hairdresser – very hard to find, and often hard to get an appointment.

Like agencies. There’s plenty of okay agencies in media and creative. Loads. More than a country our size could need. But there’s only a select amount of great ones.

Anyway – the ad world and the hairdressing world have a few striking similarities. Here’s the ones I think are most relevant. Yes, this is a bit light hearted and does make me think I really need a haircut, but there’s also some truth in it.

They are defined and differentiated by great people. The name on the door means nothing without great people within the business, on the floor, interacting and servicing clients. You gravitate to people you like and trust. You want to work with people you feel have your interests at heart. Relationships are important.

You’re only as good as your last job. You can’t be complacent and you need to realise you are always judged on your last project. 8 years of great service can be ruined with 2 bad projects.

Cost isn’t that important if the value is clear. Cost only becomes an issue when you don’t feel you are getting the service you deserve.

You can make solid revenue selling ancillary products. But you need to be careful you don’t lose focus on your core and obsess about incremental revenue

Good client direction is key. If you don’t tell the hairdresser what you want chances are you will get a lousy haircut. It’s the same with a campaign. Neither practicioner has ESP.

Don’t overextend your welcome. You wouldn’t see a hairdresser go into the tax advice world – despite the fact all their clients probably file tax returns. It’s the same with agencies who want to be everything to their clients (Yes sure, we can try to advise you on supply chain logistics). Just because you can offer something doesn’t mean you should

Your work is always on show. A crappy haircut exists for everyone to see (trust me …) … so does a crappy campaign and a crappy media buy. And people have a knack for remembering the bad.

It is assumed you can provide the basics. A hairdresser shouldn’t need to rollout their training and creds everytime they see a client. Neither should an agency. There’s a certain level of skill that is implied.

Ok I’m off to book a haircut. I can recommend Piet at Wildfire in Surry Hills if anyone is needing a trim.

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4 responses to “Hairdressing and Advertising …

  1. Thought-provoking comparison. But it takes only two-to-three weeks for a bad haircut to grow out … a crappy campaign can haunt you for a lot longer.

  2. talkingdigital

    A bad haircut can haunt you for decades mate … trust me, the dermott brereton inspire mullet-curl I had as a 9 yo is still following me.

  3. It’s funny, I always attributed this comparison to: A hairdresser’s value is only as good as the person cutting your hair. An agency’s value is only as good as the people working on your brand. Too often brands pay good money for agencies built on the reputation of a few A-players and end up getting served by B teams.

  4. talkingdigital

    very very good point rogers – more times than not your relationship with the client is built upon those actually doing the work, not the big names rolled out in the pitch

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