The Big-Haired Lady Rides Again

The Big-Haired Lady is back.

Scharbo & Co.’s new “Head West” campaign for LongHorn Steakhouse stars one of the South’s best-known icons, her monster hair crunched under a 10-gallon hat. This time she’s on the road, driving business to the Atlanta-based chain’s 140-plus outlets in a 1959 Caddy convertible with a set of longhorns on the hood.

“We worked on the premise that we all have a cowboy wannabe inside us,” said Ron Scharbo, president of the Atlanta shop. “The spots definitely capture that feeling.”

The pulsing lyrics of “I Wanna Be a Cowboy” (“I’ve got my hat on … I’ve got my boots dusty …”), a 1986 disco-country hit delivered deadpan by Boys Don’t Cry, drive the chicken-fried chic image home.

Two 30-second television spots are airing in the Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., markets. A radio component hits the airwaves in 18 primary markets in the Southeast and Midwest.

In one spot, the Big-Haired Lady (played by veteran Atlanta actress and copywriter Sarah Cotton) drives down a country road, removes her hat (her massive bouffant molded to its exact shape), then tosses it into the dust as she roars past bearded LongHorn founder George McKerrow toward the nearest restaurant.

“If you’re not heading to LongHorn, you’re heading in the wrong direction” is the tagline.

In the other ad, the car’s horns are lassoed by a cowpoke (“I’ve got my saddle … I’ve got my horse …”) who tips his hat, climbs aboard and drives off with the heroine.

Scharbo has essentially handled the Atlanta account since 1991, producing four different campaigns, including “Buck up. Kick back. Chow down,” and the Big Hair classic, “Talkin’ ‘Bout LongHorn.”

Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami held the business briefly in 1996 and 1997.

“We like to alternate between mainstream and zanier campaigns,” said Scharbo. “So far we’ve been getting great feedback. People have been requesting the song on the radio.”

Production credits go to art director Catherine Durham and copywriters Lee Gipson and Cotton. Susan Dugan served as producer on the shoot, directed in the Mojave Desert by Jeff Gordon of X-ray Films in Los Angeles.