The world of men’s razors has changed a lot in recent years. Technological innovation used to mean things like “Now there are four blades on a single razor for you to cut yourself with,” but now it’s all about how fast they can be shipped to your door for less money than it costs in a store. The launch of Dollar Shave Club in 2012 proved that a phrase like disruptive business model isn’t strictly nonsense Silicon Valley-speak–you actually can disrupt an industry’s plans.
Of course, just because you’re the first to disrupt the industry doesn’t mean you’ve got the lock on how it operates. A good idea is a good idea, and where Dollar Shave Club started, Harry’s–started by Warby Parker cofounder Jeff Raider–and Gillette both picked up. Harry’s launched in 2013, providing razors to those who enjoy a certain refined, Brooklyn aesthetic, while Gillette launched its own Gillette Shave Club.
In other words, each company is offering a similar product at a very similar price, and promises to deliver them directly to customers’ doors. Which means that when it comes to advertising, all three brands are mostly selling an aesthetic.
Part of what made Dollar Shave Club so successful at launch was a video that placed the company squarely in the bro-comedy genre, with weirdness and goofy imagery. And as it more directly addresses its new competitors, the brand is doubling down on the arch, ironic, oddball approach to advertising.
The first TV ad for Harry’s hits many of the same notes–direct to your door, cheaper–but aims to keep things a little bit more sincere. The ad flows quickly, with some cool-guy pastels and oddball imagery (not too oddball), but it’s not exactly funny–it’s just a direct, conversational pitch to engage viewers who haven’t yet figured out that they can get their razors by mail.
Ultimately, when the product is a basic commodity, and the prices and delivery methods are all very similar, it all comes down to advertising. Consumers can determine if they’re a Dollar Shave bro, a Harry’s hipster, or a Gillette traditionalist based on the ads–at least until we all start shaving with lasers.