Dollar Shave Club, a new web company that provides replacement shaving blades to customers each month for as little as a dollar, is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a damn sharp idea. Anyone who shaves with a “new tech” razor that boasts blade technology only slightly less advanced than the Death Star, and with an associated blade replacement cost that rivals the GDP of most Scandinavian countries, should gate-crash the website to sign up. Ah, but a lot of web-based startups with nothing but a great idea behind them have come and gone faster than you can say “pets.com.”
Mike Dubin, co-owner of D.S.C., wasn’t about to let that happen to his baby. The uproariously funny (not to mention pitch perfect, marketing-wise) viral web video that launched the company a few weeks ago has made Dubin a pitchman rock star while ensuring that D.S.C. came out of the gate at a full sprint.
Sure, the product and service are great (“f**king great” if the already famous video is to be believed), but how did an otherwise unknown entrepreneurial businessman manage to deliver a comedic performance that elicits more real laughs than the last three Adam Sandler flicks combined? Turns out Dubin is also a veteran of New York’s famed standup and improv troupe, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade. But the success of the business, and the ad campaign that launched it, is seriously effective.
With more than 4 million hits in first three weeks as a YouTube sensation, Dubin and his Dollar Shave Club are also experiencing explosive growth at the corporate level. I’m personally looking forward to my first shipment of blades (which unfortunately won’t arrive until May due to out of control demand) so I can officially join the D.S.C. party.
DAVE ROGAN IS A CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT SMM, AND SECRETLY WISHES HE COULD WIN THE POWERBALL LOTTERY SO THAT HE COULD AFFORD FACIAL ELECTROLYSIS IN ORDER TO NEVER HAVE TO SHAVE AGAIN.
In deference to my advanced years (presumably), Dave’s review usually appears after mine. This time around, however, I thought it appropriate that his glowing testimonial on behalf of the Dollar Shave Club come first. It also saves me a bunch of time explaining what D.S.C. actually is.
Following Gillette’s introduction of the two-blade razor, Saturday Night Live poked fun at the idea in a commercial parody for the “Triple-Trac Razor – a three-bladed shaver – 1975 (there’s that age thing again). If memory serves, Senator Al Franken appeared as caveman (not selling insurance) and had the tagline: “The Triple-Trac. Because you’ll believe anything.” Prophetic, huh?
I don’t know if it was out of embarrassment, but it took Gillette more than 20 years before they brought out the Mach3. They’re up to five blades now with the Fusion, which offers an additional sixth blade for “precision” trimming. It’s called “marketing” – among other things.
In the interests of transparency, I have to admit that I have no idea what brand I shave with or how many blades it has – it’s whatever was cheapest in bulk when my wife shops at Costco. I also shave in the shower and lather with bar soap instead of shaving cream – trust me: you can’t get a closer shave.
Getting back to marketing, what D.S.C. has done, and done brilliantly, is use the Internet to obliterate the implicit presumption that more blades provide a better shave. What they really provide, of course, is a better way to sell more blades. Think of it as an update on “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – casting Mike Dubin as the boy who wasn’t fooled. This is a basic strength of the Internet. It breaks the one-way monopoly the mass media holds on the message, and makes alternate viewpoints readily available. Ultimately, it forces brands to live up to what they promise, and exposes overblown claims to the cold light of reason. At least in theory.
BOB MATTSON IS THE CO-FOUNDING PARTNER, EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND SENIOR COPYWRITER AT SMM ADVERTISING.
The first shaving “testimonial” is attributed to Alexander the Great, who recommended it for his troops to avoid “dangerous beard-grabbing” in combat, and because it looked tidier. No record exists concerning any payoffs from the early iron razor merchants.
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