Short List
CategoryG05. Cultural Insight
Idea Creation AMBILHATI Jakarta, INDONESIA


Name Company Position
Sandru Emil Ambil Hati Creative Business Director

Why is this work relevant for Media?

Head&Shoulders owned up to a weakness to empower its consumers and ultimately grow sales. Indonesians struggled to pronounce our name, and hence would not ask for it in shops for fear of embarrassing themselves. In line with our purpose of helping people be more confident, we endorsed all mispronunciations. The breadth and application of this effort across media channels brought it to life - 300 different versions of shampoo bottles, featuring alternative spelling/pronunciation of the brand’s name were produced, each supported with customized TV, online and radio spots. The brand also tweaked voice and Google searches to accept common mispronunciations.


Head & Shoulders (H&S) is the #1 anti-dandruff shampoo globally. But in Indonesia, it was a mere challenger-brand to market leader “Clear”, owned by Unilever, which sells 55% more bottles of shampoo. This was despite heavy marketing investment using the proven, effective techniques that have elevated H&S to leadership in almost every other market around the world. When we analysed the sales data, we realised that H&S was doing well in the large retail stores, but not in the small Mom & Pop shops (independent, usually family-owned businesses) that make up 50% of sales in the hair care category. Our objective was simple and business focused. Our challenge was to replace the 30-year market leader “Clear” of the Anti-Dandruff category. Delivering on this ambitious goal would require us to generate behaviour change but the only metric that really mattered was our ability to deliver the No. 1 spot.

Describe the creative idea / insights (30% of vote)

CALL US WHAT YOU WANT! Talking to consumers we realised that H&S’ biggest barrier is…its brand name! Indonesians found “Head & Shoulders” difficult to pronounce and living in a highly collective society were embarrassed by their inability to pronounce it (not knowing English is considered a mark of shame). As a brand that prides itself on building self-confidence, we were unknowingly causing insecurity and doubt. This is not an issue in the large, modern supermarkets but a huge problem in small independent shops where you need to ask for the brand to receive it over the counter. These stores account for half of hair-care sales, critical to our ability to become No. 1. “Heten&Soljers”, “Hed&Solder” – are just some ways people call Head&Shoulders. Our idea was to turn such mispronunciations into our strategy. For the first time in Head&Shoulders’ 59-year global history, we would encourage people to mispronounce our brand!

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Say Head & Shoulders Proudly! Say it any way you want to, because regardless of how you pronounce our name, H&S removes 100% dandruff. We would give permission to Indonesians to misspell/mispronounce our brand name, indeed we encouraged it! “Say-It-Proud” helped overcome lack of confidence, dovetailing with our overall brand purpose of building self-confidence. In a nation of more than 700 different dialects and tongues this campaign has potential to get to the heart of Indonesian society and culture… We would create a campaign that would speak to the heart of Indonesians using humour and cultural messaging to tackle people’s fears and let them own their difference. TV would be used to build mass awareness and then we would boost the conversation on social media, which 90% of Indonesians use. Importantly, we complemented our efforts with local radio allowing us to customise our campaign to each region’s dialect and language.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

We celebrated the H&S pronunciation struggle in a comical way by releasing real bloopers clips of our veteran brand ambassador mispronouncing our brand name during a commercial shoot, generating a million views in three days! User-generated content from consumers, influencers, and even other brands’ versions added millions more! We collated common misspellings/mispronunciations and tweaked our Search to accept all versions, also producing more than 300 packs carrying these names. Efforts climaxed at Indonesia’s most culturally relevant event: Independence-Day, celebrating our 700 dialects with TV messages featuring consumers offering their own versions of the H&S brand name as well as bloopers from our spokesperson proving even he couldn’t pronounce Head&Shoulders correctly. Locally customised regional radio spots expanded the message’s reach across Indonesia’s many islands. For the first time in history, Indonesia was officially authorised by Global P&G HQ as the only country where a brand name can be misspelled/mispronounced!

List the results (30% of vote)

• For the first time, H&S topped the 10% share growing sales by a whopping +20%. • H&S took over anti-dandruff category leadership in Modern Trade and became the fastest-growing brand in Mom&Pop shops,growing 60 Basis points (Nielsen). • H&S grew users +9%,adding 1,900,000 Households.The only shampoo brand growing user-base. • Our bloopers video went viral(18M views in three-months). • H&S received overwhelming coverage from 50 online articles and event featured in CNN news and GTV, the country’s biggest TV/media network. • Campaign reached 114 million people with 675 million impressions across touchpoints! • Consumer interest continues as search volumes grew +36% vs. previous quarter with more than half coming from misspelled/mispronounced names. • Distribution of H&S in all types of stores has grown faster than ever thanks to awareness increase. With so many people now asking for H&S, more and more store owners are demanding to stock the brand.

Please tell us about the cultural insight that inspired the work

Global brands are inherently biased. They come to each market with a tried and trusted approach that they expect to work practically anywhere. Unfortunately, sometimes local culture and attitudes are in a direct conflict with the brand’s proposition. In our case they conflicted with the brand name itself. Instead of forcing our brand upon market and people, we saw value in truly listening to the local audience and following their insights. There are other markets in which Head & Shoulders is a difficult name to pronounce and consumers look for different ways to overcome this difficulty. In fact, Head & Shoulders is only really simple for native English speakers but only in Indonesia the brand decided to challenge what is considered to be an absolute holy grail in marketing – a brand’s name, all to support the brand’s confidence equity as an outcome of 100% dandruff-free hair.