The Video That Turned Dollar Shave Club into a $1B Company
Why Comedy Is the Most Effective Way to Advertise
The price of razors was sky high, and Dollar Shave Club saw an opportunity to undercut the competition by selling cheap razors over the Internet. To promote their fledgling business, the principals created a hilarious marketing video that they put on YouTube. The video immediately went viral. Subsequently, they began selling subscriptions so fast that they sold out in six hours—and crashed their website. That video led to more videos, which led to a television campaign, which led to the sale of the company to Unilever for about one billion dollars. But it wasn’t quite that simple.
Viewed more than 23 million times to date, here’s the video that started it all.
What looks like a schlocky, homemade video was actually a highly planned production by people who really understood what they were doing. The video features Dollar Shave Club founder, Michael Dubin, who trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade—an improv comedy company in New York—for eight years. He was also an NBC page and a digital news producer where he wrote copy. The director was a comedienne friend of his from his UCB days, Lucia Aniello, who also ran the L.A. production company Paulilu.
Aniello estimated that a similar video would cost about $50,000, but Dubin pegs their costs at $4,500. The one-day shoot was meticulously planned. Aniello started by whittling down Dubin’s four-page script before the two began writing silly scenarios together. She’s credited with creating the “Our blades are f**king great” line. How much she was paid for her involvement was never disclosed.
The video really took a lot of chances. It didn’t shy away from making fun of itself. It came across as approachable and wasn’t afraid of a line that included “f**king great.” Dubin’s cocksure delivery played wonderfully against the absurd scenarios. Having a professionally trained comedian on camera (that you don’t have to pay) never hurts. And rewrite help that comes from an old friend who happens to be a professional director with a comedy background is always an advantage.
Mike Johnston is a production executive and advertising creative in Seattle. He is available for freelance consulting, writing and directing. Contact Mike