Sy Sperling, founder of the Hair Club for Men (and also a customer), dies at the age of 78

Mr. Sperling, the founder of the Hair Club for Men, was also his own customer and helped bring the hair loss industry into the mainstream.

With around $ 5,000 and her credit cards, Mr. Sperling and his then girlfriend – a hairdresser – bought a no longer existing salon in Manhattan. There they developed a hair replacement system that used a very fine nylon mesh, adhesives and hair colors that matched the customer.

He told The Times that he wanted to remove some of the stigma of baldness. "For years, men have felt funny when discussing it, let alone trying to do something about it," he said. "I think I've removed some of the embarrassment associated with men who want to improve their looks."

The commercial that started his career for the first time was broadcast in 1982 and inspired by industrial titans such as Frank Perdue from Perdue Chicken and Victor Kiam from Remington Products, which began to appear in their own ads. "I said," If you could do it with chickens and electric shavers, I'll do one for hair, "said Sperling in a 2007 documentary:" Roots: The hair-raising story of a man named Sy. "

But unlike these business people – or the managers of many companies today – Mr. Sperling supported his own product with a personal appeal. "I represented the bald man who wanted to do something about his hair," said Mr. Sperling.

The ad filmed as a backup was almost not running. Originally, Mr. Sperling planned to use a commercial in which a sporty customer plays tennis, rides and jogs – his hair looks healthy and undisturbed in all the activities. But the original ad was bombarded with viewers, so the hair club shot one at second.

Recognition…Sparrow family

In the early 1990s, the commercial was broadcast up to 400 times a day. Sales in 1993 were $ 100 million. For a while, there were around 85 salons across the country, including franchises – evidence of the power of television and the business potential of becoming a meme even before the Internet.