Hollywood Studios Mobilize Street Teams to Engage African-American Consumers

These innovative, out-of-home marketing efforts are led by those who know black salons and barbershops best.

By now, most entertainment marketers know the value of capturing African-American fans, but few know the most efficient and effective ways to reach them. For many Hollywood studios, the answer has come in the form of out-of-home marketing that is uniquely targeted to black audiences in beauty salons and barbershops across America.

Urban grooming venues are a gateway to African-American consumers because they represent one of the key places black consumers go on a weekly basis to care for themselves and, at the same time, catch up on what’s happening in their communities and the world at large.

Urban salon marketing is particularly effective because It’s done through the gatekeepers that are local hairstylists and barbers, people for whom African-Americans hold high esteem and trust. These beauty experts understand how to bring brands and the brand message into an environment, and they know and speak to this audience in an authentic credible way. This automatically generates strong endorsements and builds authentic narratives that become part of the salon or barbershop experience itself.

Today, Hollywood studios can hire a consultant that leads a task force of representatives in key markets to gain access to the black beauty culture. The consultant leads a task force of representatives in key markets who know local salon and barbershop owners on a first-name basis and are already part of the African-American community. They are welcomed into these sacred spaces with open arms; especially when they arrive with bags full of studio swag— premier screening passes, samples, promotional posters, t-shirts and even branded hair styling capes—meant to spark conversation and excitement among salon customers.

African-American customers who happen to be in the shops are thrilled to be a part of this seemingly spontaneous, in-store experience, which turns another day at the salon into a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the next big film, television show or soundtrack about to blow up. Not only do they get to be in the know before everyone else, they score some dope merch to prove it. You can be sure they leave that salon or barbershop ready to get everyone they know excited, too.

But street team marketing activations don’t end there. Because African-American-owned salons and barbershops are the epicenter of black culture where taste-makers go to get the inside track on what’s hot and what’s not, these venues also tend to have huge online followings on social media sites such as Instagram. When owners share their photos of an in-store promotion, their customers take it as a recommendation from a trusted source. And that’s when the word-of-mouth really starts to take effect.

Before you know it, your project is trending in a way that is organic and real, and that ultimately translates into dollars at the box office. So, if you’re ready to do some authentic marketing that will take on a life of its own, it’s time to pay attention to one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood—street team salon and barbershop marketing.

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