As the Bible tells us, the little guy can fight back against the big one. It’s a good biblical tale and it resonates in today’s competitive environment. While slingshots are out of fashion, now we have the Internet and social media as weapons when the odds are stacked against us.
Getting my morning fix of the latest news from the New York Times digital edition the other day, I couldn’t help but notice that the news summary was preceded by a dramatic headline that leaped off of the page (screen) at me: “The Truth Behind Gillette’s Recent Ad Campaign.”
That’s great positioning and a definite attention-getter, if a rather strange lead for a Times story. It’s more of what you might expect from a sensational tabloid or even Target Marketing. In decidedly smaller type, under the headline, it said “Sponsored|Harry’s.”
When I realized it was an ad campaign by an upstart against a giant that has an obscene market share in its category, I couldn’t help asking the question: Will this counterattack against Gillette be as promotionally valuable for Harry’s as a directly customer-focused campaign might be? Put more bluntly, will it be worth the money or is it simply the proverbial tree falling silently in the forest?
With that in mind, I did what I was told to do; I followed the link instruction to “READ MORE.”
And there was a lot more. The landing page was all extremely low-key, engaging copy describing Harry’s start-up business where the partners had “worked our butts off to make sure guys across the nation are excited to shave again.” And Harry’s had been so successful that it had “threatened the bread and butter of a really big corporation” that was now striking back. (Getting excited about shaving is a claim I couldn’t identify with and found a bit over-the-top, but perhaps that’s just me. Maybe I should join the Millennials and grow a beard.)
“Here’s our story” is the wonderful bridge to the next item, what the copy describes intriguingly as a page from Gillette’s “dirty playbook.”
The ad explains that Gillette took aim at “what we hold most dear — our customers and their satisfaction with our products.” Not a bad self-serving statement. And then it goes on to say that Gillette “dug up third-party sample ‘data’ ” to try and get Harry’s customers back to Gillette. And it pictures the aggressive Gillette ad.
Taking a leaf from the many publications that are chronicling the multiple lies of the Trump administration, it points a big red arrow at what it rightly calls the “super tiny” asterisk used to reference the Gillette third-party “data.” It says simply, “It is not true” and provides not only convincing customer loyalty statistics, 80 percent reorder, but customer Twitter postings to prove it.
— Christian Tafoya (@ctafoya) December 22, 2016
It’s not all anti-Gillette angst, though. Harry’s wants to make sure that for those attracted to the ad, there is a free trial offer, a $13 value. This suggests that even at a 25 percent margin, the freebie must be costing Harry’s around $10 per taker, plus the cost of getting the message prominently on the Internet. That’s real money.
And here is the rub. Will the powerful copy and offer, the Harry’s against Goliath approach, go viral or sufficiently viral to extend the reach of the promotion well beyond the media that has been paid for? Will it bring the cost of trials and conversions down low enough to be “affordable,” attracting customers whose loyalty generates sufficient lifetime value to amortize the total marketing costs over that lifetime and let Harry’s end up with more than a sustainable profit? I’ll bet it’s going to be a close shave.
Hopefully for Harry’s, God will be on its side.