OK, Folks: Make Your Bet on Harry’s or Goliath

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.

Harry's Instagram page
(Image via Harry’s)

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.”

Harry's content marketing in the New York Times
(Image via The New York Times)

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.”

NYT ad clicks through to Harry's landing page
(Image via Harry’s)

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.”

asterisk in Harry's ad in the New York Times
(Image via Harry’s)

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.

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.

content marketing from Harry's
(Image via Harry’s)

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.

Endit …

 

 

 

The War on Beards

I belong to the Marketers With Beards group on Facebook. Earlier this week one of the members noticed that another proudly bearded member’s newsletter featured an ad for Harry’s razors! Then I looked at my copy of our Today @ Target Marketing newsletter for that day, and saw this …

Andrew Luck tells Abigail, "That's how The Beard Wars began.
“Dearest Abigail, we have been besmirched by the pernicious propaganda of whiskerless marketers …” — Col. Andrew Luck

I belong to the Marketers With Beards group on Facebook. It’s something Lee Odden started a few years ago as an experiment in using Facebook groups, and it’s hung around ever since (apologies if the link doesn’t load, it’s a closed group).

Earlier this week, one of the members noticed that the Marketing Tech Blog e-newsletter, from proud marketer with a beard Douglas Karr, featured an ad for Harry’s razors!

“I was shocked this morning when I opened my email and in your newsletter I saw an ad for a RAZOR!!!! OMG … Have you joined the dark side? What’s going on, Doug? Tell me it’s not so.” —Chad Pollit, Relevance, marketer with a beard.

Then I looked at my copy of our Today @ Target Marketing newsletter for that day, and saw this!

Harry's Ad in Today @ Target Marketing
LiveIntent threaded a Harry’s razor ad into multiple newsletters and websites going to marketers with beards.

Come to think of it, I’d been seeing Harry’s ads all over Facebook and other websites. Were they targeted at members of the Marketers With Beards group? It was a cross-channel assault on beardedness!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1Y73sPHKxw

Now, I noticed both of our e-newsletters carry ads powered by LiveIntent. So those are essentially network ads targeted at the individual e-newsletter recipients. When I see Harry’s, you might see Dot & Bo or Caribbean vacations — or, in an ideal world, something more marketing focused. (I’m sure Chad, Douglas and everyone else in the MWB is aware of that too.)

And of course, the Harry’s ads I’d been seeing all over were the same. I’m in a demographic Harry’s is targeting.

Beyond that, I have no idea how these ads are being aimed. I stumble around some websites that I could definitely see them targeting based on cookies. But I’m also in this Marketers With Beards group on Facebook.

In reality, Harry’s is probably advertising to a bunch of attributes in different model combinations and just keeps catching me, and the other Marketers With Beards, in those personas.

But it’s really easy when you’re seeing those ads incoming to draw other conclusions. “Hey, we’re all part of the Marketers With Beards group, Harry’s is taking a shot at us and telling us to shave! Arrrrrghhh!”

Rollo from Vikings w/ Axe
“Bring me my axe!”

We’ve seen a few examples of this kind of advertising being received poorly. Remember Denny Hatch’s “Zappos.com Is Chasing Me All Over the Internet!” and “Son of Zappos.com Is Chasing Me Around Europe!“?

in fact, while I was searching up those articles, I saw this:

Harry's razor ad on TargetMarketingmag.com
“Resistance is futile. You will be depilated.”

This is another example of how marketing is different today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. When 90s folks saw your advertising plastered across TV, radio and print ads, they may have gotten annoyed, but they didn’t take it personally.

Today, with all the targeted — but still saturating —  advertising options, prospects take that annoyance personally. Because it IS personal — you did aim those ads at them, after all.

And it’s really easy for a prospect in your target lock, even a savvy marketing prospect, to interpret that extra attention with a tinfoil hat.

Keep that in mind when you’re setting up your digital campaigns. Make an impression, just don’t make the wrong one.