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!

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 “ Is Chasing Me All Over the Internet!” and “Son of Is Chasing Me Around Europe!“?

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

Harry's razor ad on
“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.

Author: Thorin McGee

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

13 thoughts on “The War on Beards”

  1. Good for Harry’s! Their marketing worked – they have you talking about them and I assume you aren’t being paid to do so! You probably weren’t going to shave anyway, but now I’ll consider them. 🙂

    1. You know, I wish these guys or Dollar Shave offered a razor patterned on the Schick Tracer.

      They all make razors patterned on the Gillette “floppy head” designs, and they are terrible to control when trying to trim around my beard (it’s a box beard, so I do shave cheeks and neck).

      If they had the Schick style razor (there’s less plastic around the blade and it’s held firm at the edges) I’d consider them.

  2. Thorin,
    I doubt you and I are in the same demographic. I am what might be charitably referred to as an “older” copywriter, well into the age of decrepitude, yet I am getting assailed by Harry’s ads.

    My curiosity was finally piqued by your article, in which a Harry’s ad appeared, to click on it. It took me straight to a call to action. No sell copy. No reason why. No claims of superiority. Nothing except a call to blind action.

    Which leads me to conclude these guys are amateurs. They’ve been chasing me around the Internet for months, although I am well past the age of forming brand preferences for anything other than “senior products,” like those pills that will turn me back into a randy young stud. Yet when they finally get me in a corner, they drop the ball. No wait, that’s an understatement. They drop the ball in the trash bin.

    This reflects bad media planning, bad marketing sense, and no sense whatsoever of what an ad can do, should do, or used to do. However, I assume that their too-wide net is affordable for a safety razor company only if they’re paying by the click. So if you want to get rid of them, I’d recommend we all click on them every time we see a Harry’s ad. Don’t buy anything. (They don’t seem to want you to have a reason to buy anyway.) Eventually, their media bills will go up without concomitant sales and they will march their marketing manager out to the back yard, tie him to a post, and shoot him.

    Revenge is a dish best served up without razor cuts.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Peter!

      Denny and I had a similar conversation about Dollar Shave Club a few months ago. He said much the same thing, and that if you gave the right list he’d beat the pants off them in ROI.

      Maybe he could, but I also know that these guys aren’t amateurs, and neither are the guys behind Dollar Shave Club. If they’re using a Spartan, CTA-only landing page, it’s may be because they tested that against landing pages that were more benefits oriented and the CTA-only one won.

      The rumors of Testing’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. I’ve seen that it’s alive and well among e-commerce marketers.

  3. Half of women everywhere will disagree with you. If my husband shaves his beard hes getting kicked out till it grows back.

  4. Beards in general are under attack. Articles constantly coming out about them being supposedly dirty or what it means for the mans “personality”. I don’t get why so many people care what’s on a mans face. If you want a beard great – have a beard. Men with facial hair are much more attractive to a lot of women anyways. The marketing is interesting though. I’m sure it can’t be a coincidence.

  5. Well, I always say if my significant other doesn’t like my beard, the world is half full of other people for her.

    They call them women.


  6. My wife has never seen me without a beard, and we’ve been married almost 20 years. I think that’s part of what attracted her to me when we first started dating.

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