Mark Radcliffe ponders what it is that makes a funny video go viral, and what it says about what we value.
I work in advertising when not making music, so I watch a lot of ads. And I’m a pretty big fan of any commercial that can make it to viral status. Here’s the latest one that’s ripping up the charts, a promo video for Dollar Shave Club:
There are a ton of reasons this is catching on like wildfire: it’s charmingly funny (borrowing from the confident ‘Man your man could smell like’ shtick of Old Spice), it’s quirky and goofy, it’s self-deprecating, and the product does seem to be a pretty good deal. And in a world of million-dollar commercials, this is refreshingly low-fi (appropriate for the company). It’s the anti-ad, in a sense.
But there’s another reason it works: it hits on a major truth—that we men have been duped into taking our razors too seriously. It’s easy to see what Gillette’s been doing: feeding us the notion that if we want to be as suave, slick and confident as Roger Federer, then we can’t just have “any” old razor; we need something as sophisticated as it gets.
But here, finally is a voice calling out from the wilderness: “Don’t believe the hype, boys! Free your mind and your face will follow!” Maybe part of being a real man is knowing when you’ve been had. The pitchman in the video (actual co-founder Michael Dubin) reminds us that our grandfathers didn’t need this crap. (And they even had polio!) It’s generally more acceptable for women to take their fashion and accessories seriously (for better or worse). We men don’t get away with many—a nice watch, nice shoes, and a high-end shaver.
Makes me wonder what other aspects of our appearance and physical identity we’ve been taking too seriously…