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dark or pure or just plain rubbish? May 19, 2008

Posted by nicholas gill in active branding, brand, brand experience, dark or pure, ghd, website.


I’m pure. Suspiciously so. Or at least so say the folks at ghd on their new dark or pure site. What sounded like an interesting ploy turned out to be a tiresome exercise that took forever to load as the site was so flash heavy although as the content didn’t actually do much I have no idea why. The “are you dark or pure” submission was salacious only in the first question which asked whether I’d ever cracked the whip. The rest of it was a bit tame. And then when you expect an instant answer (after all, digital has created real-time expectations), you have to wait 4 days to be told whether you’re dark or pure. Why?  And it went to junk mail. And then a few days after that you get an exclusive preview of… the new hair tongs!

OK, I knew ghd was about hair products. And OK, I know it’s aimed at girls so the hair straighteners were never going to appeal but the site experience and the brand experience wasn’t dark or pure. Just crap. Grey text on black background? Contrast, people, contrast. Pretty much no content of any use? A real shame as they have a point of difference in their brand expression everywhere else, especially their tone. An example of how not to do this thing called digital.

The only slight bit of redemption is the dark or pure models. Look closely, they both have the flash loading icon. Why? It’s a static image! And, breathe…

pure girldark girl



1. Gianni Greco - May 20, 2008

The whole excerise by GHd was mean to build a sense of anticipation, mistry and intrigued surrounding the lauch of the Dark or Pure. Sadly it failed. Hairdressers were given a seek peek of the new straighteners at the GHD expert awards and unfortunately as many hairdressers will tell you – Hairdressers can’t keep a secret – the images were available on the internet, the day after the awards night. A bit of a shame as the offline billboard advertsing in UK major cities, simpley asking the questions you mentioned above were wasted as was the darkorpure website. As most other retailer were already displaying there images anyway and the mistery was lost.

But anyway GHD is a brand leader and the products seem to be flying off the salon retail stands. At the end of the day GHD is GHD and they have no credible opponents in the UK market to challenge there brand image.

2. nicholas gill - May 28, 2008

Thanks for commenting. I absolutely agree that GHD has a great brand image, which is why it’s such a shame this digital campaign was so weak. I love your insight that hairdresser’s can’t keep a secret 😉
And thanks for filling in some background to the launch.

3. Ally - May 29, 2008

Your thoughts are interesting, we here loved it and it did get tongues wagging, everyone had their opinion of what Dark or Pure was…… it did it’s job really well give me another salon professional brand doing all this for their consumer….give the ppl what they want, and we have.

4. nicholas gill - June 5, 2008


Thanks for joining in the conversation. That’s what makes digital so interesting – the different perceptions. You liked it, I didn’t. And that’s great. I don’t unfortunately have any other examples of good digital from salon brands. But I do like the Toni & Guy seasonal magazine.

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