At the start in 2021, shampoo brand OGX introduced three new haircare collections for women seeking salon-style treatments at home. To launch the product in a COVID-safe environment, the brand turned to a drive-thru, specifically a drive-thru car wash, an experiential format that is gaining traction for its contactless nature and existing architecture. For its first IRL experiential activation since the start of the pandemic, OGX took over a 1907 car wash in Los Angeles on Feb. 5 and invited influencers, press, general consumers and passersby to experience the colorful, love-themed event ahead of Valentine’s Day.
The brand’s goal was to introduce the new products to influential consumers and drive awareness. But it was also about providing entertainment. (Check out our photo tour of the experience and its touchpoints.)
“The opportunity to trial the product and be creative with a real-life event, so people could get product in their hands and use it and experience it, was really important to us,” says Hanan Wajih, senior marketing director, North America, at Vogue International, parent company of OGX.
Following are five activation insights that helped OGX scrub its way to success.
The OGX team relied on influencers and select press to spread the word about the car wash ahead of the event. In addition to social teasers from the brand and influencer-driven content, the team ran ads in two popular beauty podcasts, “Gloss Angeles” and “Fat Mascara,” to build buzz. The event was also listed on local news event calendars. During the experience, which ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., a two-hour midday break was reserved for VIP guests and influencers only.
Since building points of interaction between brands and attendees during COVID times requires minimal contact, OGX used QR codes to assist in a few places. At entry, signage containing a QR code directed attendees to download an OGX Carwash playlist featuring love-themed tracks that participants could enjoy inside their vehicles during the experience. Meanwhile, brand ambassadors were busy handing out goodie bags in a contactless fashion by depositing caddies containing full-sized products and swag directly into consumers’ trunks. At the end of the car wash, attendees posed for an in-car photo, which they could access through a QR code included in their caddy.
The car wash experience tied into the brand’s “Uncap the Love” campaign, which focuses on inspiring self-love and confidence. The campaign hashtag, #UncapTheLove, was incorporated into swag contained in the caddies and attendees were encouraged to post their photo ops on social media channels using the hashtag. The event’s timing, leading up to Valentine’s Day, was a nod toward the love theme, and the décor—from a giant arch in the shape of a heart to the pink outfits sported by brand ambassadors—also helped spread the love.
Signage played a particularly important role during the event. Two large billboards drew in passersby from the streets and wavy, inflatable air dancers signaled to outsiders that a car wash was in progress. Bright strips of mylar that were visible to attendees queuing up on-site added to the effect. At the entrance, which featured an oversized arch in the shape of a heart, attendees were greeted by a sign-spinning brand ambassador. And during the car wash, oversized signage educated attendees about the products’ ingredients.
In the absence of the traditional step-and-repeat, OGX offered an in-car photo op at the end of the car wash. Attendees pulled up and parked in front of a pink OGX-branded wall while brand ambassadors snapped pics. The photos were then framed with OGX branding and a license plate graphic, and attendees could access them through a QR code included in their takeaway caddies.
“This was our first live event that we’ve done since COVID, because most of the events went to virtual,” Wajih says. “Looking at the rest of the year and the right opportunities, we would love to have more live events—but COVID-safe. I think that’s what made this one so special. COVID safety precautions were all taken, but at the same time we were able to have a really fun and safe event.” Agency: MKG, Los Angeles.