Great Clips bets on college sports with NCAA partnership

By Nick Halter – Senior Reporter/Broadcaster, Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal Jan 14, 2020

Great Clips announced Tuesday that it will become the official hair salon of the NCAA in a multi-year partnership that includes all 90 championships and March Madness. 

The Bloomington-based salon franchisor has been a major sports advertiser and has current partnerships with the NHL and X Games. It was previously a NASCAR sponsor for more than 15 years, but ended that partnership in 2018. 

“We’ve been evaluating partnerships and growing partnerships throughout the years. The NCAA seemed like a really good natural next step for us. We are a national brand with 4,400 salons across the U.S, and Canada,” said Lisa Hake, vice president of marketing and communications for Great Clips, said in an interview. 

Hake did not disclose terms of the partnership. The deal is a joint agreement with Turner Sports and CBS Sports, which carry NCAA events. The partnership extends into on-site engagement opportunities at NCAA events and local market promotions. 

College sports hits the sweet spot for Great Clips’ target customer. 

“Our typical customer tends to be male, he tends to be in his 20s to 40s, and he tends to be very into a lot of types of sports, both in terms of participating in them and watching them,” Hake said. “So we want to appeal to them.”

The NCAA Final Four was in Great Clips’ back yard in 2019, when the games were played at U.S. Bank Stadium. Hake said it would have been ideal to begin the partnership before that, but the company wasn’t quite ready. 

“We did do some advertising during March Madness last year through TV and digital creative across Turner Properties and we saw really promising results,” she said. “That’s a whole other reason that we decided to really pursue and go deeper starting this year, because last year’s campaign did a great job at increasing brand awareness and driving customers to our salons.”

The first national marketing plan will begin ahead of this spring’s March Madness basketball tournament. 

Great Clips is working directly with the NCAA on developing exclusive content, Hake said. The chain is also working with their creative agency, Minneapolis-based Hunt Adkins; Knoxville, Tenn.-based media agency Tombras Group and PR agency FleishmanHillard Inc., a global firm with an office in Minneapolis 

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