BRINK is a creative digital agency pushing boundaries in web, mobile, social, video and even indie film.
This is our blog. A place to cheer the successes and lament the failures. To give wisdom and share experiences. Sometimes it's business, sometimes it's pleasure, but it's always through the eyes of an agency living on the BRINK.
Viral Marketing Lesson: You Can be Provocative Just Don’t Be Gross
Viral marketing is a tricky business. It is a newer advertising phenomenon. A (sometimes clever) way for brands to worm their way into the collective subconscious. We know these kinds of campaigns can be successful, but you have to step carefully. An idea that sounds good around the conference table can come off totally unseemly once executed.
Dollar Shave Club is a success story in the viral marketing arena. They are a web-based company founded in 2011 on a simple idea: shaving blades are expensive and easy to forget about, and people might be willing to pay a modest monthly fee for new ones to just show up at their door. It isn’t a new idea (Amazon.com has been offering a subscription service on household goods for years) but Dollar Shave Club seems to have found success on the strength of a single YouTube video they launched last March.
Their first spot is a master class in YouTube marketing. It reminds the viewer constantly that they are watching an advertisement, so no one feels tricked. It’s low budget, so consumers feel like they’re supporting an underdog. And most importantly, it’s funny. That video has upwards of 10 million views to date and (unlike many startup companies) Dollar Shave Club still exists. Last week, the company announced their foray into another area of our restrooms with this absorbing piece of advertising.
How do you feel after watching that? Clean? Refreshed? Happy? Probably not. You probably wish you hadn’t seen that. The spot stays true to most of what made the first one successful (it’s honest and charmingly cheap) but there’s one key difference - it’s gross! The feeling associated with Dollar Shave Club in this advertisement is one of disgust, not satisfaction.
And Dollar Shave Club is not alone in their travels down the gross out path. Kmart and Charmin both tried it out (albeit in a slightly tamer way) recently. You can watch those spots here and here, if you dare.
We are human beings. We know what goes on in the bathroom. We know what toilet paper is for. And most of us still have enough of a shame impulse to be grossed out by it. Maybe in the future we’ll be enlightened enough to discuss our toilet activities frankly, but not yet! So please, advertisers, stop making us look at it.