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The simple magic of the Dollar Shave Club promo

I read a lot of video contest briefs and lately I’ve see one particular video get referenced over and over and over; The Dollar Shave Club’s “Our Blades Are F***ing Great” promo.  Here’s a snippit of a brief that I just happened to come across today:


And hey, here’s another mention from a different contest brief:

Sexual humor will never be passé!!

All of these companies want their own Dollar Shave Club promo because the original is wacky and fun and it’s gone on to be a big viral hit.  The promo was uploaded to youtube on March 6th, 2012 (holy sh*t that was one year ago today!) and over the last 365 days it’s been watched more than 9 million times.  The video cemented the company’s image as fresh, hip and different (the words fresh, hip and different appear in a hell of a lot of contest briefs too) and DollarShaveClub.com actually started making a whole lot of sales. According to Wired, DSC’s newfound success even got them a 9.8 million dollar capital investment last fall.

So the ad was a monster success.  But I think that there is another reason video contest sponsors like this video.  It was cheap.  Actually no…cheap is the wrong word.  It was Low Budget and had a DIY vibe to it.  It looks like it could have been shot for a video contest, doesn’t it?  It just feels casual and cool and you get the feeling that the cast and crew probably had a lot of fun making it.  It’s a little irreverent and a little tongue and cheek.  It’s a commercial but it doesn’t feel like a commercial so viewers can share it with the friends and not feel like spammers.  And finally, it explains exactly what the company does but it’s obvious that no one at DSC, not even the founder, takes themselves too seriously.

And that right there is the magic formula that all these companies want.  They are looking for cool, hip, tongue in cheek videos that don’t take the brand too seriously and that has a sharable quality to it.  No one anywhere can actually make a video that’s guaranteed to go viral.  But if you know the ingredients your odds of writing something that has viral potential will be greatly increased.

So the next time you’re reading through a video contest brief, think about the Dollar Shave Club video.  You shouldn’t flat out copy what DSC did (enough people have already done that) but instead you might want to try and capture the tone, style and attitude of the promo.  And hey, just between you and me….if you’re ever submitting a pitch or applying for a production grant on a site like Tongal or Mofilm you might want to say something like “my video would have a Dollar Shave Club” vibe to it.  It seems that “Dollar Shave Club” has become a magical phrase to marketing folks and anyone reading your application would realize that you understand exactly what kind of video they’re looking for.

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