KSL Clinics: The perils of relying on celebrity endorsements

Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg Daniel Cullen Graft king
#KSL KSL, #Guardian

Sun Mar 27 2022

These days we are all now used to seeing a whole host of random and previously unheard of products being promoted as the greatest thing since penicillin by people with large Instagram followings. Few industries remain untouched by this new marketing tactic, certainly not the hair transplant industry. .

Getting celebrities to sell products is nothing new. But whereas before, magazine or TV ads were subject to a lot of regulations dictating how far a company could push the needle in terms of promises, social media is basically the wild west. Add in the fact that a hair transplant surgery is something you live with for life, where wrong results can be truly disastrous and you’ve got a cocktail for some very sad stories.

For proof of how bad this can be, look no further than KSL Clinics. With branches all over the UK, the company embarked on a social media assault of potential customers by offering free hair transplants to just about anyone who had been on reality television. Whatever your opinion of reality television, it is pretty much undeniable that if you are trying to flog an image-enhancing product, there are probably few audiences more valuable than the follower’s of someone who has recently been on TOWIE.

In exchange for free hair transplants, celebs such as TOWIE’s James Locke and Maria Fowler lined up provided the obligatory Insta posts hailing KSL as the greatest clinic in all of the industry straight after their procedure.

The problem is that time has shown that time has revealed the cold hard truth. Their final results have been consistently appalling. Since KSL’s PR offensive, multiple influencers previously praising the clinic have seen their transplants morph into abominations. As a result they have publicly sought out other clinics to repair their car crash results of their first procedure.

Whilst there is a touch of karma in the fact that even the celebs couldn’t dodge a terrible result from KSL, they are certainly in a better position than the poor souls who actually paid KSL for a hair transplant. Such has been the volume of customers being left with car crash results, a class action lawsuit is now being arranged against the clinic. A Facebook group with over 1,600 members is full of men with depressingly similar stories: down thousands of pounds, unable to afford a second procedure and left with shocking practices being noted by customers with disturbing uniformity. Certainly a far cry from the quality promised by the videos that roped them in...

As noted in the Guardian article, the owner of KSL has seemingly disappeared off the earth, his only communications being letters sent through lawyers threatening people.

Whilst KSL exists as an extreme in terms of the image portrayed on social media versus horrific reality of work carried out, the danger of celebrity influence exists across many clinics.

From one side you cannot blame clinics. They are operating in a hyper competitive space, where you need the customer to be aware you exist before they can see the supposedly high quality work you are carrying out. The problem is that people view celebrities as authorities on everything. It is highly likely that until said clinic messaged said celebrity, they would have had no idea what FUE stood for. Perhaps just a day later, they are now uploading a video saying why this clinic is the greatest of them all. The reality is that no one who is paid to use a service will say that the procedure was anything but excellent. Doing so would cancel this deal and risk future ones.

If you want to verify a clinic’s claims, what can someone do instead? Seek out real people who have had transplants there. Look for negative reviews. They will exist for every clinic no matter the effort they go to hide them, and above all, just always be aware that there is no connection between whether a clinic is likely to give you good results and that your favorite UFC fighter got paid to go there.