Shave Everywhere – Good or Bad Viral Marketing?

May 4, 2006

Becky at Morsekode sent me a link to the Philips Body Groomer website at www.shaveeverywhere.com. I am struggling.

Do I think it’s hilarious? Yes.

Is it well produced? Yes.

Will it create buzz? Yes.

“So what’s your problem, John?” you might ask.

Well, I have two issues (maybe three) – mostly from a brand management perspective. And maybe I shouldn’t. Hear me out and then you can tell me if I’m wrong.

Viral Marketing Should Still Be On Brand
I feel like any marketing should reflect the brand. Now, I don’t know what Philips has for brand guidelines, but I wonder if this reflects it. I feel like there are quite a few more references to vulgar language in the song, comments, etc. It’s all “bleeped” out, but you know what they are saying. Is that on brand? Humor may be on brand, but this is a level lower than I feel (as an outsider) fits Philips.

Does it Have to be Dirty to Be Funny?
I know, I sound like a prude here. (Remember, though, I said it was funny.) But let’s think about the audience. How many more conservative consumers might consider this project? – did Philips just alienate a large portion of their market? Is the extra viral spread worth it? They could have used similar humor in a more classy fashion and still received similar results. Does the guy really need to “adjust his goods” while he’s standing there?

Is this a “Me Too” Viral?
I love creativity, humor, and entertainment. However, this seems to be a little bit of a “best of” viral approach where the creators took elements from other successful viral programs and threw them into a big pot. I wish it were completely fresh.

Any Attention = Good Attention?
Some would say that any attention, good or bad, is good attention. I think, in this case, though that they degraded the brand, and while this potentially has short-term gains (for this product), I wonder if it might have a negative impact on the brand and consumer perception of Philips?

What do you think?



  1. Your approach to branding is just so 1980’s. The brand management you describe is going to be DOA in the marketplace.

    When you say “On Brand” you seem to mean corporate. The brand has to be flexible enough, especially a brand like Philips, to appeal to all its different constituencies, not just the most conservative common denominator.

    Does it have to be dirty? Think about the target: young men trying to be appealing to young women. You market to your target, not to your boardroom.

    Is it me too viral? Please! Television, print, radio, outdoor – all filled with the same tired ideas for the last 50 years and you ask whether this confection of an ad is “me too.” Give me a break. Guess what? All chocolate candy bars use sugar and cocoa; are they me too?

    Is any attention good attention? No. But this is good attention. How do I know? I went to Amazon and found this product listed as #1 in their personal care area. The blogs are filled with consumer comments raving about the ad and consumers’ newfound respect for a brand with the cojones to run it (as opposed to marketing pundits’ comments reflecting on their strategic navels).

    Step back and remember, we market and we brand in order that we SELL. I suggest you click over to Amazon, buy one of these shavers and get to work below the belt because you need to get reaquainted with your kiwis.

  2. Virg – Wow! I like the energy. And, you gave me what I asked for.

    I think you have some interesting points. But, to be clear, I don’t have “an approach” behind this. I was really just asking questions. Questions people may want to ask if they are considering, in this case, viral.

    If you read some of my other posts, you’ll clearly see my focus is on meeting the needs of the audience. And, to be honest, I really saw the “hairy back guy” as the target, not the “optical inch guy.” Everyone sees a hairy back at some point. Fewer (I assume) see “the kiwis.”

    I wasn’t on the creative team for this (maybe you were?), so I don’t have the luxury of all the background that went into this. Again, just asking questions – and you’ll note that I said it would be successful right up front.

    I think of a brand like a person, with expertise, values, and style. In this mind set, the person doesn’t change who s/he is at the core. Whether that is 80s, DOA, etc. I couldn’t tell you.

    I think what this all gets down to is whether the ends justify the means. I’m not sure sales figures alone are good enough for me. The way we do it matters too.

    All things are permissable, but not all beneficial.

  3. […] Obviously it’s a clever post-modern shot at viral marketing, and I think it’s funny as hell. There seems to be a minor stir among advertising types about the site, like this commentary: “Does it Have to be Dirty to Be Funny?” Me, I think they’re unclear on the concept if they don’t see how clever this is. (I’ve already heard one guy say, after a mere glance at the site, “Fascinating — I might be in the market for that.”) In the puritanical American market, on a topic that is sure to provoke embarrassment but apparently has a large untapped market, it walks just the right line. […]

  4. […] Now I’ve seen everything. Shaveeverywhere.com goes where no product advertisement has dared to venture. How low does it go? Just below the navel. The web could not be a better place to advertise a razor that is not for your face but for “male body grooming” (i.e. your back, chest and ….uhm, your privates). Seriously, Philips’ Norelco Bodygroom razor ad could probably not run on television, but is perfectly suited for the unorthodox, laissez faire, interactive environment of the web. As mentioned in a previous post, the Internet regulatory body recently voted down a proposal for a new “.xxx” domain to mark pornographic web sites. Why designate inappropriate or offensive sites? Let people decide that for themselves, seemed to be what the ruling meant. So, now back to Shaveeverywhere.com — is it inappropriate? Pornographic? Offensive? I think it’s really funny. And that’s what Phillips is betting on, as well as the viral effect of a shocking site being passed around to buddies and co-workers. But not everyone agrees that it’s all just harmless fun. John Pollard at Funky Uncle Marketing questions whether “any attention=good attention” and does it have to be dirty to be funny? “I think, in this case, though that they degraded the brand, and while this potentially has short-term gains (for this product), I wonder if it might have a negative impact on the brand and consumer perception of Philips?” […]

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