With news that Unilever has acquired Dollar Shave Club for the tidy sum of $1 billion, it’s tough not to think back to the ad that started it all. Back in 2012, the idea of buying your razors online as part of a subscription service was practically unheard of. Then Michael Dubin introduced himself and his new company with a deceptively simple, 90-second spot that made us laugh, while opening our eyes to a shaving option beyond getting fleeced by $30 quad razor packs at the local pharmacy.
The premise of that original intro–from the lo-fi production values to the small biz ambition vibe, Dubin’s no-nonsense CEO to the blades’ brown cardboard box-like packaging and old school logo–was rooted in being the scrappy underdog. The little guy in a world of CPG behemoths. But the resulting 22 million YouTube views, subsequent press coverage, and then Dubin and co. actually backing it all up with a solid product and smooth e-commerce experience, has now helped make Dollar Shave Club part of the global corporate giant that original ad ranted so hilariously against.
How to maintain your indie edge once you go mainstream is a question as old as your polio-riddled handsome ass grandfather, but no less challenging. Just ask your local craft brewer. If Dollar Shave Club’s more recent ads are any indication–a 45-minute video of a kid practicing triangle, the professional pitfalls of greasy hand lotion–its stepped away from attacking the gigantic likes of its now-parent company, and more towards bringing candy brand-style oddvertising to the personal grooming space.
With reports that Dubin will remain at the helm of DSG, all signs so far point to Unilever leaving its newest member alone to do its thing, and simply using its global footprint to expand the brand’s reach. It will be interesting to see how Dollar Shave Club–which has traditionally done all its marketing and advertising in-house–may or may not utilize the corporation’s relationship with multiple creative ad agencies. As long as the products, price, and brand personality remain–and the ads never, ever look anything like this–everyday consumers will barely notice or care about the little Unilever logo on the back of the box.