Herbal Essences has long been the leading natural hair care brand, captivating Millennials with its “Naturally Legit” campaigns. But with the emergence of Gen-Z, a new market segment making up 29% of the population and massive earning potential of USD 327 million, it was time to adapt and evolve. 

Though Gen-Z shares Millennials’ love for natural products and reliance on social media content and influencer reviews, they’re true digital natives with shorter attention spans. To capture this cohort, Herbal Essences needed a fresh, engaging strategy to seamlessly weave its “Naturally Legit” message into content that resonated with both generations. 


  1. Gen-Z’s 24/7 online presence and short attention spans demands snackable, high-impact content. 
  1. Misleading information from interest-based algorithms often sways Gen-Z’s understanding of facts and truth. 

To connect with Gen-Zs, we devised an innovative campaign that bridged the generational gap, creating a Herbal Essences Cinematic Universe (HCU). By extending previous Millennial-focused storylines and incorporating Gen-Z perspectives, we crafted a multi-generational narrative that highlighted the brand’s ethos and legitimacy of its natural proposition, making Gen-Zs the star of the show, but without alienating our core audience.  

The ‘universe’ we built connected Gen-Zs and Millennials online (URL), explored real-life interactions (IRL) between the two generations with themes of uncovering truths and authenticity that deeply resonate with them. We then delivered our “Naturally Legit” message in a digestible format on high-reach, credible platforms, solidifying Herbal Essences’ position as the only, truly natural hair care brand of choice for both generations. 


We started from the 2021 brand film, Bunga’s Secret Garden, which followed Bunga as she navigated the dilemma she faced in her quest for natural authenticity in various aspects of her life. We strategised to continue the storyline with a Gen-Z twist, delving into the intergenerational relationship and Millennials’ role in guiding younger individuals. 

The new brand film we developed titled ‘Julia’s Secret Recipe’ is a fresh take on the ‘Bunga’s Secret Garden’ narrative which further explores the dynamic between these two generations. This new film positions Bunga as the big sister, helping Julia, the Gen-Z protagonist, discover what it means to be ‘true to herself’ through Herbal Essences’ ‘Naturally Legit’ proposition. ‘Julia’s Secret Recipe’ maintains a connection with the previous film, subtly implying that Herbal Essences is the secret ingredient linking the two stories by presenting itself as the main source of inspiration and motivation for both characters. 

To accommodate short attention spans, we created a 2-part, 15-minute web series, optimised for mobile and social media consumption, building anticipation for the film. Told from Julia’s perspective, we explored her journey to finding her true self  by adding a few ingredients to make her story resonate deeply with audiences.  

1. Character Building  

We introduced Julia as Bunga’s future sister-in-law, a newcomer to the workforce struggling to make her own decisions and easily swayed by trends, constantly changing jobs. 

2. Real World Scenarios  

We incorporated current issues affecting the younger generations, such as the Great Resignation, cancel culture, doom scrolling, trend-following, live streaming, and entrepreneurship, making the story more relatable. 

3. Hacking Algorithms  

To maximise reach, we embedded interest-based keywords in subtitles, captions, hashtags, and headlines, prompting social media algorithms to push the brand film to more users. Scroll-stopping hooks within the first 12 seconds captured audience attention and sustained interest. 

We devised a four-phase campaign to engage audiences at multiple touchpoints, utilising different platforms and tactics.  

1. Teaser 

A week before the brand film’s premiere, we released a pre-hype promo on Gempak’s YouTube channel, Malaysia’s top entertainment platform with 3.6M subscribers. Featuring the popular cast from the successful ‘Bunga’s Secret Garden’ generated buzz and anticipation for the upcoming film. 

2. Social First Premiere 

The web film debuted on Gempak’s website and social channels, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Promotional support from top Malay platforms such as ERA, Hijabista, and Media Hiburan, further bolstered the launch. 

3. Amplification 

To spark conversations, Thinker Studios’ podcast and YouTube channel (824k subscribers) featured hosts discussing the film’s plot and storylines while engaging with online viewers. On TV, cast interviews appeared on top Malay entertainment shows, Gempak TV and MeleTOP. The web film aired during peak viewing slots on Astro Ria, with fresh runs and repeats to maximise reach. 

4. Social Proof  

Acknowledging the power of social credibility, we enlisted eight influential Gen-Z creators to provide genuine product reviews of Herbal Essences’ products featured in the web film. This strategy validated the brand’s effectiveness and authenticity for audiences. 


The campaign helped cement Herbal Essences’ presence as Malaysia’s top naturals brand in the hair care market. We achieved two key objectives we set out to do prior to the campaign:  

1) Elevating Herbal Essences’ position in the market by tapping into a new generation of users to increase volume share.  

Market Position 

Volume Share increased +13% (Q3 FY22), strengthening penetration with Natural Seekers, solidifying brand position as Malaysia’s No.1 Natural Shampoo brand.  

2) We broke through creative, channel and communication barriers with Gen-Z consumers with content that speaks directly to them, without disregarding our core audiences, Millennials. The results showed a resounding increase in brand awareness, viewership and reach, compared to previous campaigns.  

Brand Awareness 

  • The first episode recorded the highest time spent 89% (13.3 min out of 15 min) amongst Malays aged 15-29.  
  • 4.3 million digital views (+22.8% from previous year’s campaign)  
  • > 6.8 million social media impressions  
  • 1.2 million minutes viewed on Facebook (+20% from previous year’s campaign)  
  • Average percentage YouTube views of 23.7% (+0.2% from previous year’s campaign)  
  • Gempak’s TikTok channel accumulated 854,000 views