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Exclusive: Wahl Launch Olympian Kyle Chalmers Campaign


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fter announcing Australian Olympic champion swimmer, Kyle Chalmers, as a brand partner, Wahl head of marketing, Brett Clulow, spoke with Ministry of Sport about the value of partnering with Olympic athletes.

As part of the announcement, Wahl launched a new TV commercial featuring Chalmers and his ‘mental strength coach’, Kerry Labouf, played by stand-up comic Dave Eastgate, in an effort to promote the Wahl Waterproof Stainless Steel Trimmer.

The campaign focuses on Chalmers’ silver medal performance from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where he finished 0.06 seconds behind first.

Revealing how the campaign was created and the purpose of the partnership with Chalmers, Clulow said Olympic swimmers are well known for being well-groomed and Wahl wanted to turn the close result into a comedic story.

“For me, when the Olympics are on, I kind of sloth on the couch, which sounds bad because you’re watching sport, but the only way to get enough is to sit yourself on the couch,” Clulow told Ministry of Sport.

Brett Clulow Head of Marketing WAHL

WAHL head of marketing, Brett Clulow

“I was watching the swimming and athletics and it was a couple weeks after that I was in the shower, and we were looking at a new campaign for Wahl and what we were going to do next because we had the Wahl Waterproof Stainless Steel Trimmer launching.

“I thought, Kyle has just missed out on the gold medal by literally 0.06 seconds, and I thought, he’s well-spoken in the media, presents really well and the irony in the whole thing is that in Rio (2016 Olympic Games), he probably wasn’t expected to win that gold medal and then in Tokyo, he was red-hot favourite to win the first two and he got beaten by a hair, so I thought ‘there was only a hair in it’.

“It was about turning the story of what happened with Kyle, which had nothing to do with his hair management, but creating a bit of a twist on that story and making it funny, and that’s where the concept came from.

“Swimmers are pretty anal about their grooming habits and Kyle told us about what he goes through with his grooming and he doesn’t do it that often because of the sheer time it takes, I think it’s usually a couple days out from a serious meet,” he said.

On the value and challenges of partnering with Olympic athletes after the Games have finished, Clulow said creating a similar viewing experience to the Olympic competition was a crucial focus for the campaign.

“I think the creative has to almost mirror the sport, to really capitalise, you’ve got to take to the consumer on a similar journey to what they would do if the athlete was performing in their sport and that’s the real connector,” Clulow said.

“So, in the Wahl ad, Kyle is swimming, he’s in the pool, he’s got a coach, it’s very realistic to what competition might be.

“From a consumer perspective, there’s a sense of ‘the Olympics are still going because I’m seeing Kyle again’ and it’s a few months later.

“It’s about how you trigger the consumer’s mind again to take them back to when Kyle was swimming in Tokyo, and that was one of the real challenges because we wanted to make it very real in every sense, so consumers look at it and go ‘did that really happen in Tokyo?’,” he said.

When asked about the response the campaign has received so far, Clulow said: “The response has been overwhelmingly positive, it’s unbelievable going through our social feeds and Kyle’s social feeds.”

“It launches in mainstream media in December during the Big Bash and also the Ashes test series on free-to-air TV.

“It seems to have a good fit with Kyle and there’s a bit of attention today around crazy coaches, and there’s a little bit of Ariarne Titmus’ coach, Dean Boxall, in Kerry, there’s a little bit of Russell Coight, there’s a little bit of the characters from The Hangover.

“From across the industry, all our staff and socials, I haven’t seen anything negative and I’m quite surprised.

“As a marketer you typically expect a little negative,” Clulow told Ministry of Sport.

On the launch of his partnership with Wahl, Chalmers said: “I was gutted when I realised I’d missed out on gold by only 0.06 seconds.”

“But very proud that I’d battled back from shoulder surgery to win silver.

“When Wahl told me about the ad, I thought it was hysterical.

“Maybe I would have won gold if I’d trimmed my face a bit closer!

“I love the character of Kerry – he may be completely over the top, but I’ve met a few trainers who are almost as extreme!

“I was already a big fan of Wahl.

“So this was a great opportunity to showcase its products to as many people as possible.

“I’ve always been very focused on being the very best I possibly can be, and that’s their philosophy too,” he said.

As part of the campaign, 30 and 60 second ads will be broadcast across social media with the TVC launching 14 November, featuring a national competition judged by Chalmers for Australia’s craziest beard, with the winner to receive $2,500 worth of Wahl prizes.



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