Videos Done Right: Dollar Shave Club & Invisible Children

By: Guest | March 19, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is written by Gregg Jaffe.

March 5, 2012.

A day that will live in vidfamy (patent pending). That’s the day startup Dollar Shave Club and NGO Invisible Children enchanted the web and the world by using video to deliver their messages – both quickly achieving the Shangri-la of web cred – “going viral.”

If you’re a PR or marketing professional, creating videos for the web is your new reality. Clients want videos and they’re coming to you demanding the next big sensation.

Lets examine what these two new stars of the videoverse (patent pending) did and whether it was worth the effort.

The Dollar Shave Club

The Dollar Shave Club has been around for about a year in secret beta-land and came out to the public in a big way with their “Our Blades Are F**king Great” YouTube video, nearing the three million view mark in a week’s time.

The premise surrounds the founder giving a direct to camera tour of their online razor operation. Using a mix of straightforward details and a healthy dose of goofy non-sequiturs, Dollar Shave Club manages to sell the concept and the brand nearly perfectly in a mere 90 seconds.

Underneath it all they’re doing something equally important – tapping into the American zeitgeist with economy-based messaging. Beyond just the cheap razors, they tease their competitors’ expensive celeb endorsements, and even introduce a factory worker who now is employed thanks to the Dollar Shave Club. They’ve made you love them for being the underdog.

This video reportedly cost about $4,500. Compare that with the currently running commercial starring Adrien Brody and Andre 3000 (who apparently thinks he’s a 19th century French peasant farmer judging by his headgear). Do you remember which giant razor brand spent millions for that ad campaign? Me neither.

Invisible Children

Moving to the other side of the spectrum we have “Kony 2012,” a 30-minute documentary produced to raise awareness about a brutal Ugandan warlord and his army of child soldiers.

It has – are you ready for this – nearly 75 million views in a week!

This example is interesting not just because of the views, but because of the controversy surrounding the content. The video spurred posts, tweets, and articles from news sources far beyond the scope of the video (who really watches a whole 30-minute YouTube video?) in terms of reach and awareness.

This should be an absolute slam-dunk for the organization to get people angry and aware. Then came the allegations about how much money Invisible Children actually puts toward capturing Kony.

We saw tons of people (who last week didn’t know Uganda from U-verse) take to the web and implore the rest of us to stand up and do something. Then came the cynic brigade questioning how much of the donated funds is for filmmaking versus helping Ugandans.

We can’t say for sure what the goal of Invisible Children is, but we do have to ask ourselves: Had you ever heard about Joseph Kony before? Are you more familiar with the terrible situation facing Ugandan children than before?

So What?

When comparing these two videos, you see Dollar Shave Club had to deliver great content for anyone to care about their product. Invisible Children had to put something out that would stir up enough compassion or controversy for the cause to get people talking.

Neither one is the right way to do it, but both attracted the audience they wanted. So when the time comes for you to create a video (and it will my friend) think about who you want to see it, and what it would take to get them to not only share it but to also become a customer. And that’s vidtertainment (patent pending).

Gregg Jaffe co-owns a video production business, a dog, and a baby with his wife. They all live in Chicago. You can find them on Twitter @bigteethvideo.

  • trontastic

    Both of these videos are excellent and I’m glad you brought them up. One shows how a no-name start-up can compete in a big-brand world and the other broke more virality records and hopefully will change the world for good.
    There at the end you say that “Neither one is the right way to do it”. How do you mean?
    If both went viral, hit their target market and will likely generate the outcome they are looking for, wouldn’t that mean they did indeed do it the right way?

    • bigteethvideo


    • bigteethvideo


    • bigteethvideo

      @trontastic Thanks for the comments. What I meant was that what these two did was not the “only” right way. What worked for them may not automatically work for others. So, yes they indeed did it right!

  • craigmillertv

    @ginidietrich The Dollar Shave Club video is excellent. Hilarious and well made.

    • ginidietrich

      @craigmillertv I thought so, too!

  • JimConnolly

    @TonyaHallRadio Small world, Tonya!

    • TonyaHallRadio

      @jimconnolly Yes it is… Great Start-Up Video #DollarShaveClub

  • jennimacdonald

    I love the last paragraph! Thanks for the write up.

    • bigteethvideo

      @jennimacdonald Thanks. It’s all about what makes sense for your ideal audience versus just “going viral”

      • jennimacdonald

         @bigteethvideo  I couldn’t agree more! I can’t even count how many times I’ve been asked at conferences “How can I create a viral video?”

        • bigteethvideo

           @jennimacdonald Yeah, that’s probably a whole separate blog post that I think has been written in other places but maybe we need to discuss it here.

  • jennwhinnem

    Dollar Shave Club wasn’t expecting how popular they’d be, so they emailed us enrollees to say they were going to be late shipping blades. No comment on how that will affect my legs.

    • ginidietrich

       @jennwhinnem You’d better find something else for  now.

  • yayayarndiva

    @lizscherer @ginidietrich Video done right- Trayvon by @jasiri_x #TrayvonMartin

  • ginidietrich

    This is a fabulous blog post and all, but the best part is your bio. #theend

    • bigteethvideo

       @ginidietrich I figure anyone who really wants to know about my professional accolades can find me on LinkedIn right?

      • ginidietrich

         @bigteethvideo What’s LinkedIn?

        • bigteethvideo

           @ginidietrich It’s like Facebook with a tucked-in shirt.

  • Tony: this blog post was vidtastic (patent pending).
    –Tony Gnau

    • bigteethvideo

       @T60Productions Thanks Tony. That comment has earned you an (eventual) lunch.

  • jpgreenb

    Awesome post Gregg.  Have to put your target audience first. You did forget the part where you convert all of those views into millions of internet dollars.
    /witty quip

  • Pingback: Viral Video Insurance Policy: We Can Mitigate Your Risks | SNOOWS()