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Brands We Like: Dollar Shave Club

Eric Groves

By Eric Groves

Irreverent humor. Relevant creative.

This blog doesn’t really need any other sort of introduction.  No fancy schmancy paragraph with poetic prose.  No witty inside-marketing banter.  No fluff.  Simply put, this month’s ‘Brands We Like‘ post is about Dollar Shave Club and their unique advertising efforts to distinguish their brand.

Dollar Shave Club, the venture-based razor subscription service flew onto the scene a couple of years back with a viral video meant to score the same sort of views as the Old Spices and Doritos of the world.  I don’t know about you but the first time I saw it, I laughed so hard I think I might have shipped my pants.

Here in the office, we’re constantly talking about the killer creative. We spend time pouring over ads and campaigns that get people talking, especially the brands that attempt to connect to audiences everywhere by using core emotions as a driver.  We’ve cried and we’ve cheered.  We’ve been proud and we’ve been amazedempowered, even.  But, we love to laugh and we loooove the absurd so, this ad caught our attention from Jump Street!  We knew this brand was one we wanted to keep our eyes on.

The Dollar Shave Club brand got people’s attention from the get-go with their sense of humor.  The 90-second online clip that started it all off was designed to introduce the world to the main core service.  Considering that the original upload had been viewed close to 20 million times at the time of this blog post, I’d say that has been accomplished.

But, what was next for DSC and it’s CEO, Michael Dubin?  How would they extend the brand’s reach beyond that of the viral audience?  How could they turn all those clicks of ‘share and play’ into ‘shop and pay?’ The answer was pretty clear to DSC execs.  From the starting line, Dubin and his team had identified their brand voice and style.  They wanted to be different, witty and funny.  They wanted to be noticed by that tough to get to young male demographic.  And, since the original ad had worked so much wonder with its over-the-top style, it’s no wonder the team did not waver.  

So, Dubin and his team did what they do best.  They met and came up with a plan for the next stage of creative that would tackle the traditional 30-second tv commercial with the same carefree spirit. “Instead of throwing up a broadcast message and hoping it sticks, Dollar taps into social engagement,” Dubin says. “This is the way of the world now. Everyone knows it’s an ad, but because it’s humorous, you’ll watch it over and over, and share it with your buddy.  We always wanted to tell this other story, and have a bit of fun with it.”

The fun is evident throughout the spat of new television spots that have been hitting the air the past few months in sports and other male-skewed programming (and, yes, they’re being watched and shared online, too.)  All of the spots, showcasing the good-guy razor buyer versus the bad-guy store employee, were written by Dubin and his team.  The consistency in the fun tone were the key as the team tackled some ‘real-life absurdities.’  “It’s rooted in truths. It is frustrating. It is expensive,” Dubin said of the plots. “It’s a heightening of reality. If these stores are willing to do this, what else are they willing to do? Maybe they’re willing to tranquilize you with a dart.  Dollar Shave Club wants to speak to you in an everyday voice,” he said. “Tonally, it’s important to remind people, here’s a guy who’s just like you, finding a solution to a real problem.”  (Even if the problems like taser-wielding clerks are a bit out there.)    

Have the new ads with the same wicked sense of humor been working? As with most industries, profits are proof in the advertising world – and, Dollar Shave Club has plenty of proof in its pockets. Dubin said the upstart subscription razor brand “finished October with 1.1 million active subscribers, $7.2 million in monthly sales and what the company estimates as a 10% volume share of U.S. cartridges.”  

Further proof? The competition has stood up and taken note.  Now, the Gillettes of the world offer subscription-based packages, as well, after seeing an industry-wide, double-digit decrease in cartridge retail sales that most credit to Dubin and his Dollar Shave Club.

We’ll credit a huge chunk of that success to the creative emotional connections made with Dollar Shave Club’s advertising efforts.  Instead of the old tried and true, Michael Dubin was willing to go out on a limb and try something different.  He got our attention by cutting through the clutter and making a core connection with us by making us laugh.

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