Exclusive: Drybar’s Alli Webb on the HBO Promo That Crashed the Site

Dry BarWe ladies love a good blowout.

In fact, we love it so damn much that when it’s offered for free we break down doors to get it. Well, at the least, we cyber stampede and crash Web sites and call centers. That’s what happened today when Drybar, the uber-popular blow dry bar chain based in Irvine, Calif. sent out an e-mail promotion to its customer list offering free blowouts at all of its 25 locations in the U.S., courtesy of HBO. The network partnered with the beauty chain to promote the season premieres of both its Girls and Enlightened series, and the promotion is set to launch January 11-13, from 6 pm to 7 pm each of those nights — if you were one of the lucky ones to actually get through.

But many weren’t lucky enough to get through to schedule a free appointment and were instead nearly pulling their hair out trying to reach someone. We were taking a work break to walk the dog when we saw the DryBar e-mail come through, just as we were getting the leash on. Dog pee be damned, we immediately got on the Web site and tried to book — to no avail. (cue whimpering from dog). We tried again. More whimpering from dog. So we put in the ear buds and started calling as we walked said dog. Busy. More busy. STILL busy. We felt like tweens desperately trying to score concert tickets for a Justin Bieber or One Direction show. We finally got a very nice and apologetic Drybar operator named Tracy on the phone who told us the system had crashed. She took our info and promised to call back.  That was at 9:59.

By 10:53 am, Drybar co-founder Alli Webb had swiftly sent out a sincere apology to customers:

I know a lot of people have been unable to book appointments both online and via the phones.
Unfortunately, despite staffing up our phone receptionists for this promotion, we dramatically underestimated the response here and are terribly sorry for any inconvenience. I have read all the frustrated emails and truly feel awful.
Please know we are doing everything we can to rectify the situation as quickly as possible. And will do a better job of planning next time, I promise.

Alli Webb

Our Drybar operator Tracy was never heard from again — by us at least. (Presumably, she was carried away by an angry mob of frizzy haired women wielding blow dryers.) But we did, however, hear from an apologetic Webb, after the poor dear had spent a harried day dealing with said angry mob.

“We were totally shocked,” said Webb. “We vastly underestimated the popularity. Between all of our locations, that’s

Drybar founder Alli Webb

Drybar co-founder Alli Webb

about 2,000 blowouts that are basically free. In retrospect, how did we not think it?”

(Oh, and did we mention that the promotion stated that the stylists tip would be covered as well?! We’re surprised people weren’t rushing the doors!)

Webb said she knew they had a problem almost immediately. “Minutes after it went out I started getting responses from people [who couldn’t get through].”

While many customers were, unfortunately, left frustrated by the crash and unable to get appointments, it was in many ways a sign of how phenomenally successful Drybar has become in a few short years. Since opening in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles in early 2010, Drybar salons have strategically popped up across the country — from California to Texas, Arizona, Georgia and New York.

“We vastly underestimated the popularity [of the promotion]. … That’s about 2,000 blowouts that are basically free. In retrospect, how did we not think it?” – Drybar founder Alli Webb

Webb was not only among the few early adopters to push out the concept of the $35 blow out salon, but the first on the West Coast. And the company’s tight template that could be rolled out to multiple locations and an aggressive expansion plan has fueled its growth far beyond its Southern California roots. And just this month, Drybar debuted its first line of tools and products.

“We still feel like a nimble company, but we’ve gotten so much bigger, ” Webb said of her realization today. “We just had to sincerely apologize and admit that we messed up and we will never do this again.”

But never fear: They won’t be putting the kibosh on promotions, per se, but rather the method of promoting the promotions. The company has done well with other tie-ins, such as one they did with Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl Cocktails. But that, of course, did not involve free blow outs.

“HBO came to us about this promotion and we thought it [seemed like] so much fun,” said Webb. “But blasting it out to our whole list may not have been the best idea.”

We may not have gotten an appointment, but we were so impressed with Webb’s handling of the debacle that we’re happy to remain paying customers.

And that’s not just a bunch of hot air.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Author:Michelle Dalton Tyree

Fashion Trends Daily is the brainchild of Michelle Dalton Tyree. She is the former West Coast Retail Editor for Women’s Wear Daily, Fashion Editor for The Japan Times, and founder of former L.A. luxury boutique Iconology. Michelle is frequently quoted about fashion retail trends in major media outlets such as NPR, KPCC, The Inside Source and the New York Times. She has developed content for many luxury brands and retailers and has written for Allure, Worth Global Style Network, Footwear News and other media outlets.