Clean GraffitiAs summer heats up in Chicago, residents are strolling the sidewalks, and the owners of RED 7 Salon decided this was the opportune time to catch their attention with a little clean graffiti featuring the salon’s brand. By working with a company that makes steel stencils, they then hired a cleaning service to power-wash the brand on sidewalks surrounding the salon.

We were intrigued by this creative, fun and clean idea, so we asked Jason Hall, who owns the salon with David Kafer, how he got the idea, who he partnered with to make it happen, and how neighbors have reacted. Here's what Hall reported: 

“When it comes to marketing, we always look to other customer service industries—automotive, restaurant, healthcare—for inspiration. It’s out-of-the-box thinking that challenges me to be more creative. Plus, if something had been a success in another industry, odds are, if it’s properly executed, it’ll be successful in our industry.

“I actually got this idea when I worked at a theme park as Mama Bernstein Bear. Yes, it’s true! When workers power-washed the park, they didn’t always move the benches or trash cans. Later, when they moved items around, there was always a ‘dirty’ impression on the concrete that I noticed. 

"We tried a similar sidewalk campaign close to our Evanston salon. We created our own stencil out of a durable plastic sheet—cutting our logo out with a utility blade—and used Bumble and bumble’s colored hair powder to create an impression. This was a creative idea that always got noticed and would last for up to four-five rains. But the last time we did the campaign, we caught a lot of heat from people who mistook the color as spray paint, and we ended up doing quite a bit of damage control. It got noticed, but not always in a positive way.

"So I started wondering how could we do the same thing, but differently. I remembered back to the power-washing days of the theme park, and it just clicked. I did a search for this on the web, and found a company (powerwashstencils.com) that made the steel stencils. Then, I found a company (Chicago Pressure Washing) that could use it to power-wash the impression. The stencil is approximately 4 feet by 4 feet, cost about $15 and lasted for about a week. So far, the impressions have been positively received.

"My overall advice would be to not place the impressions immediately outside another business, but to do them in a public walkway that is popular, but not right outside a business. On most public city sidewalks, it’ll get noticed and be impressionable—most sidewalks are pretty dirty.

So, my long, hot days as Mama Bear, with small children punching me and pulling my nubby tail, finally paid off!”