Commentary

Harry's Flexes Its Funny Bone

With just shaving cream, a razor and a bathroom mirror, Harry’s is out to liberate the funny guy in every man.

In a social-first campaign called “Alternative Routines,” the D2C pioneer focuses on the grooming quirks of a series of comedians, mugging it up as they shave.

It kicks off with Byron (“Honey Boy” and “The Chi”) Bowers, who spends his shaving time wondering what kind of ‘stache works best for pirates, baseball players and cops.

Next up are the Lucas Brothers, as Kenny and Keith are billed. The two ponder the difficulties of identical twins achieving exact whisker symmetry.

Jaimie Crespo, general manager, tells D2C FYI the brand is looking to build on the comic spots it’s been using on non-razor products, including its deodorant and shampoo lines.

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“We know that our customers aren’t afraid to have fun while shaving and that many guys use their grooming routine as a way to express themselves as individuals,” he tells D2C FYI in an email. “While the razor is at the core of the campaign, this series brings this idea to life and intentionally celebrates the quirks that make each of the comedians unique. Each of them has their own sense of humor and own grooming habits — no two routines are the same.”

He says he hopes the ads, developed by Notable, the London-based creative agency, get guys talking about their grooming oddities. And he’s also hoping the campaign’s social origins facilitate sharing. “As we continue to lean into comedy as a brand, we’d love for this series to build brand awareness and help establish the link between Harry’s and comedy.”

The New York-based personal-care company says it plans on releasing similar spots from Matteo Lane and Ricky (“The King of Staten Island”) Velez.

In the past, Harry’s ads have often been more serious, diving into masculinity, individual expression and mental health. And it still donates 1% of all sales to mental-health nonprofits.

This comic effort fits in, he says, because it pushes past stereotypes. “We want to celebrate the ways our customers are different and embrace their individuality.”

The pandemic punished personal care products. “The shaving category as a whole has dipped during the pandemic, with the men’s razors and blades market declining 16.1%,” he says.

Yet Harry’s sales are increasing, year-over-year. “We attribute this growth to consumers reconsidering their brand choice, looking for high-quality products, convenience, and good value over the past year.”

Beyond shaving, he says sales are up 33% in its body care category and 50% in hair products.

That’s good news for the venture-backed company, still looking for a path forward following the collapse of its $1.37 billion merger with Edgewell Personal Care in February 2020. While industry observers had expected it to sail through, much as Unilever’s $1 billion acquisition of Dollar Shave Club back in 2016 had the Federal Trade Commission squashed the deal due to antitrust concerns.

Brands like Harry’s and Dollar Shave continue to chip away at the once-mighty franchises, including Edgewell’s Schick and Procter & Gamble’s Gillette.

“Niche and DTC brands continue to disrupt the market with their high-quality yet affordable product offerings,” writes market research company Mintel in its latest report on the hair-removal category. “What’s more, many DTC brands have expanded their distribution to both online and in-store channels, helping them reach a broader audience of both existing and new customers while also tightening the competition in an already competitive market.

"As niche and DTC brands become more competitive on price and quality, national brands will need to work hard to prove their value.”

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