Subscribe to Inc. magazine

The Video With the 'F---ing Great' ROI

A hilarious--and economical--YouTube ad skyrocketed Dollar Shave Club to Internet fame.

Dollar Shave Club takes the prize for producing the most clever--and economical--YouTube ad of 2012. Founder Michael Dubin knew a well-coordinated PR blitz could put his company on the map. So Dubin, who previously worked in digital marketing and studied improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York as a hobby, cast himself in a hilarious 90-second video explaining why his company's razor blades aren't just good--they're "f---ing great."

It worked: Dollar Shave Club's YouTube pitch, which Dubin wrote himself and filmed with the help of director friend Lucia Aniello, racked up nearly 10 million views on YouTube.

"When everyone thinks that [a certain kind] of advertising is the 'right' thing to do, that's when it has a terrible rate of return," says Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at the Stern School of Business. This is where Dollar Shave Club hit the jackpot. According to Galloway, there is a current trend against "industrial strength carpet bombing" campaigns that blast every media channel with ads. The most successful ads, he says, have been those with a more DIY approach--like a video of a guy walking through a warehouse, dropping f-bombs and cracking jokes about his no-nonsense shaving products.

The best part about the video is that it cost a mere $4,500 to make. Frugality, says Dubin, reflects the company's underlying ethos; its razor subscription plans range from $1 to $9 a month. "Our company is about living a smarter lifestyle," he says. "Why overpay for something if you don't need to?" 

Until April of this year, the company sold razor blades exclusively. Recently it has begun to sell a shaving gel called Dr. Carver's Shave Butter for $8 and may begin offering additional products in the future, Dubin says.

"Our goal is to become the easiest place for guys to get what they need--and that starts in the bathroom," he says.

Despite his brief tenure as a YouTube star, Dubin takes the responsibility of scaling his company very seriously. When it comes to the lure of Hollywood, he says: "That's really not something that I'm interested in."

But he is interested in continuing the company's Internet fame: A new video is coming soon. Watch for it.

Last updated: Apr 18, 2013


Francesca Fenzi reports on entrepreneurship, technology and small business news from San Francisco. Her work has previously appeared in TIME, USA Today, Pop City and The Northside Chronicle.

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: