If a client’s main directive is “we need to be wowed,” what do you create?
That’s where Ideas Collide found itself in early 2022. Paul Mitchell Schools, one of our longtime clients, wanted to completely revamp its organic social strategy. The nationwide network of more than 100 cosmetology schools gave us some straightforward but ambitious guidelines: a concept that was new, bold, and sexy; that appealed to the school’s target audience; that leveraged user-generated content (UGC) from Paul Mitchell students, teachers, and alum exclusively; and that drove enrollments.
And yes, it had to wow them.
With those guidelines, Ideas Collide developed a smart and daring campaign that blossomed far beyond the client’s social media channels. That campaign? “Bold Babes & Barbers.”
"“I almost went to a cosmetology school — I toured several. I’m essentially the closest on the IC team to what [the client’s] target audience would be.”"
This made her the project’s ideal manager. Edgerton began researching brands that resonated with Paul Mitchell Schools’ target audience — working-class Gen Z-ers and younger millennials who follow trends and want to start their next chapter — figuring out which of these brands had effective social strategies. Style blogs also became an important resource as Edgerton developed our initial strategy. Meanwhile, she researched TikTok’s trending topics and content consumer reports to determine what Paul Mitchell Schools’ audience was really looking for.
Edgerton then turned to Ideas Collide’s design team. Her initial direction: create social graphics and strategy with free rein — no restrictions, no guidelines, no wrong answers. What would you do if you had full freedom, and the client wouldn’t say no?
‘Bold Babes & Barbers’ Comes to Life
Ideas Collide began a deeply collaborative brainstorming process, honing three strategy pitches to impress the client, increase audience engagement, and utilize lots and lots of UGC. From this collaboration, “Bold Babes & Barbers” was born.
Some of this campaign’s core traits:
Simply put, it looks great in a feed and in the grid.
“So the feed itself was going to be very, very beautiful,” Edgerton added. “We were going to work on creating pictures that work together to tell a full story for the month by being the same color, the same aesthetic. But the posts were bold and powerful enough to stand alone if you were just scrolling through your feed. … I want all of them to still perform on their own.”
A Unique Opportunity (With a Unique Challenge)
In the cosmetology industry, UGC is an ample resource: hairstylists, barbers, and makeup artists do visual-based work, and tend to promote it on social channels. This meant Ideas Collide had lots of user content to potentially use. But it also required a uniform strategy for editing these images before reposting. UGC images “are all kind of edited a little bit differently — some are better quality, some are worse,” explained Nicholas Winter, Ideas Collide’s senior art director. “So there was a bit of exploration with figuring out how that would work, and finding a filter to use that could be adjusted depending on the quality of the image.” This particular campaign, he estimated, is around 95% UGC, “and that’s a completely different strategy than we normally would use.” Throw in the rotating monthly color palette, and we had our work cut out for us.
When Great Ideas Soar
Paul Mitchell Schools loved the “Bold Babes & Barbers” pitch, and asked us to implement it right away. So we hit the ground running. In February 2022, Paul Mitchell Schools began delivering this bold-but-inviting, varied-yet-cohesive, color-coded content to its followers. The results were significant — and immediate. In that first month, for example, social content reached 25% more accounts and engaged with 102% more accounts that weren’t following Paul Mitchell Schools pages, compared to the previous 30 days.