One of the best pieces of business advice I ever got was from a DeVries colleague who once said, “If it isn’t hard, it’s not worth doing.” That’s the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign in a nutshell – a monumental effort, but monumentally worthy.
What was so hard about birthing this particular program? That it was the first of its kind, for sure: our vision was to invent a program that would inspire women everywhere to grow, cut and donate their hair to create wigs for adult cancer patients. So while Pantene Beautiful Lengths was not the first program in the hair donation space, it was the first dedicated solely to benefiting women suffering medical hair loss. Click here to learn more about the program.
We set an extremely high bar as we went about creating the program infrastructure – since one didn’t already exist. Every point along the way from ponytail donation to final wig distribution had to be secure and transparent – not to mention as user-friendly as possible, for donors and wig recipients alike. And of course, none of this would have been possible without our program partners, all of whom are the best in the world at what they do: HairUWear, who processes the donated ponytails and creates the Beautiful Lengths wigs; the American Cancer Society, who distributes the wigs for free through its wig banks nationwide; and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, whose Women’s Cancer Research Fund is the beneficiary of a $1,000,000 grant from Pantene to fund crucial biomarker cancer research, and who have been invaluable partners in building national awareness of the program.
The most thrilling aspect of Pantene Beautiful Lengths, though, is the passionate response we’ve seen from women, men and kids across the country who have not only donated hair, but who have embraced the campaign and made it their own – generating more grassroots excitement and media buzz through community cutting parties and local events than we could ever have accomplished on our own.
We talk about these donations as making “the kindest cut of all.” I wonder if we should say, “Most profound cut”…There’s this thing that happens when people make the cut for the cause, what we’ve come to think of as the signature Pantene Beautiful Lengths “moment”: the donors — woman, girl, man or boy, we’ve had them all — take their seats in the salon chair. Their hair is combed out and gently gathered into a ponytail. The scissors are raised and slowly cut their way into the hair. Eight – or nine, or ten – inches of hair fall away and without fail, the donors gasp and clasp their hands to their mouth in amazement and in …what? The emotional release of saying goodbye to that much hair, or knowing where that hair is going and the difference it will make? It’s an unparalleled act of personal generosity, and a transformative moment…for everyone involved.
Stephanie Sage Smirnov
EVP Beauty, Health & Wellness Division