Procter & Gamble is an advertising Goliath. Dollar Shave Club was an unknown 2 weeks ago. Thanks to brilliant advertising, Dollar Shave Club is going to take the fun out of being a brand manager for Gillette (owned by P&G) for the foreseeable future.
Basically, with a video that’s gone viral and a website, Dollar Shave Club has just taken the process of buying razors out of drug stores and grocery stores and moved it to a subscription service with no need for fancy packaging, expensive TV campaigns, coupons or the help of superstar celebrities.
Fast Company describes the ad:
In its parody-toned ad, the company CEO takes us on a tour of the Dollar Shave Club warehouse. He seems almost aggressively committed to the product he’s hawking–angry that people would be foolish enough to buy razors any other way than from a club. “Do you like spending $20/month on razors? 19 go to Roger Federer,” the CEO says, catching a tennis racket thrown from offscreen. “I’m good at tennis,” he promises, immediately swinging for a ball thrown his way, missing it, and moving along.
It turns out the guy in the video really is the founder and CEO of the new start-up, Michael Dubin. What’s more surprising, though, is the fact that he made the ad himself.
“The world is filled with bad commercials and people who are marketing too hard,” Dubin says. “I think what we wanted to do is not take ourselves too seriously, and deliver an irreverent smart tone.”
Dubin wrote the spot last October and shot it with his good friend and co-director, Lucia Aniello. It cost about $4,500 and the team managed to bang it out in a single day, shooting on location at the actual factory warehouse, at their fulfillment center in Gardena, California.
All the dollars on R&D at P&G aren’t going to survive the onslaught of common sense behind the basic premise of Dollar Shave Club- razor blades shouldn’t cost a small fortune. People know when they’ve been taken for a ride, but without any alternative in the Schick/Gillette duopoly, the only price war we’ve seen previously is how high can they go- and with a simple, classic counter-strike the entire market has been transformed. Granted, those without Internet access may not find their way to cheaper shaves, but, at these prices a cottage industry of resellers may just sprout up, because even the cheap disposable razors aren’t as cheap as DSC.
The only option left to the ransom kings of shaving blades is to quickly buy out DSC or his manufacturer in China and risk an anti-trust lawsuit from the feds.
But, what is even more amazing is there is no glamor shot of the product, no demonstration, no celebrity endorsement and even an obscenity aluded to in the spot- all things that wouldn’t even be considered by the soon to be dethroned kings of marketing in Cincinnati. Granted, P&G did finally learn that great advertising that’s irreverent can help move the sales needle when they hired Wieden + Kennedy who came up with “The man your man could smell like” for Old Spice that repositioned a tired brand. However, comparing the media buy of the agency created campaign to the total cost of the do-it-yourself effort of DSC should make P&G rethink everything about the way they approach marketing for everything from Tide to Swifter.
Advertising should never be about budgets as much as it is about creativity and the ability to create an emotional connection and response with the consumer. Dollar Shave Club has just changed the game in razor blade sales. What are you going to do to change the game in your industry? Hint: doing what has always been done doesn’t work so well these days.
There are a few ad agencies that really understand relationship marketing and building brands based on emotional ownership over rational decision making processes- Wieden & Kennedy is one of them.
Since 2004 they’ve worked with Starbucks, a brand that’s been known as a poor client. When your agency fires you as a client, it’s time to do some introspection. Especially if you are a marquee type client.
Getting fired means you are doing something wrong, and Starbucks’ senior VP-marketing seems to be the first candidate for the introspection couch:
In a statement, Starbucks’ senior VP-marketing, Terry Davenport, said Wieden’s decision was a response to Starbucks’ recent move to ask a number of agencies it works with, including Wieden, to “provide ideas to move the brand forward. … And, as a result, Wieden has decided to opt out of the process,” he said.
While Wieden is Starbucks’ primary agency, the retailer has worked with a number of other agencies in recent years on co-branded products. Interpublic Group of Cos.’ DraftFCB, New York, is the primary shop on its grocery coffee business. Starbucks has also worked with Omnicom Group’s Goodby Silverstein & Partners on the bottled Frappucino beverages it co-markets with Pepsi and Energy BBDO for the coffee liqueur brand it co-marketed with Beam Global Wine & Spirits.
But Wieden, which also handled media buying and planning for the coffee roaster, as well as much of its in-store graphics work, had been responsible for the first large-scale advertising in Starbucks’ history, including its first TV push last winter.
Starbucks is a brand that’s a love it or hate it brand. Their market penetration is incredible, as I’m constantly reminded when I pop up my “Starbucks finder” on my iPhone and almost always find one nearby when the coffee urge hits my companions.
And here is where the fundamental problem exists: The best marketing and advertising that Starbucks can do- isn’t marketing or advertising in the traditional sense of the words- because it’s just not necessary. The focus should be on refining a voice through the brand touchpoints and building very tight relationships with their customers through Customer Relationship Management tools. This is hard for both a VP of Marketing to understand and hard for an ad agency to caculate a compensation program for.
Modern marketing techniques don’t come with conventional media billings- and for a company like Starbucks, they shouldn’t. But, an open mind of how to build relationships with customers should be the first order of discussion with any agency who is bold enough to take on this “difficult client.”
Well, way back in 1988- “how big van we get without getting bad?” was the question on Guy Day’s mind- because Jay Chiat had famously asked “I want to see how big we can get without getting bad.”
Because, creativity isn’t something that comes with a formula, or on demand- and sooner or later, everyone runs into “Creative block”- or can’t come up with the one, really, insanely great idea that carries through for ever- you know, like “Just do it” or “Hello, I’m a Mac, And I’m a PC” etc.
So when über hip, super hot, Crispin Porter + Bogusky landed a piece of the Nike business from the super hot, über hip, old standby agency- Wieden + Kennedy, the ad world gasped. Was no relationship sacred? Were CMO’s so cutthroat as to divorce the one that brought them fame and fortune?
Well- today, after 13 months, and ONE tv ad, Nike pulled the plug on CP+B and went home to the old standby according to AdAge:
Crispin CEO Jeff Hicks confirmed the split in a statement, citing a mutual decision to go different ways: “We will forever be in awe of the company that is Nike and wish them nothing but the best.”
A Wieden spokeswoman could not be immediately reached. A report of the split first surfaced on George Parker’s blog Adscam/The Horror.
Nike first stunned the ad world last April by adding Crispin to an agency roster long exclusively dominated by Wieden. The pairing of one of the most iconic brands of all time with the hotshop was seen by many as a harbinger of trouble for Wieden, but the collaboration thus far resulted in a single TV ad, for the iPod-integrated Nike-Plus brand, which ran in December.
While Crispin Porter is still a wildly successful group of talented people, they aren’t the answer for everything, as Nike found out. With Burger King, VW, and now Microsoft- the burden of being a genius on so many major accounts, requires great management expertise to go with the creative. Growing an agency can be tough. Need proof- look back at Jay Chiat and Guy Day’s questions from way back.
Note to Chief Marketing Officers- there is a lot to be said for institutional knowledge, and a lot more to be said for treating your agency as a trusted partner. When the work isn’t good, remember to check out your own brief and assignment?
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