Harry’s honors men who buck the norm in biggest ad campaign yet

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Harry’s today is kicking off its largest ad campaign to date. Titled Not the Same, the effort is designed to introduce a new line of sharper blades while nodding to men who buck the status quo and embrace their odd selves, according to details the brand shared with Marketing Dive.
  • The campaign was developed with creative studio Mythology and includes a series of 30- and 15-second spots on TV, streaming and digital video. Jody Hill, of “Eastbound & Down” and “The Righteous Gemstones,” directed the ads that say Harry’s doesn’t raise prices upon introducing new products — unlike rival razor makers.
  • While its anti-Big Razor messaging aligns with the brand’s rhetoric of recent years, Not the Same takes a slightly different creative approach than Harry’s past ads challenging traditional notions of masculinity.

Dive Insight:

Not the Same is Harry’s first ad campaign since its merger with Schick owner Edgewell was blocked by the Federal Trade Commission in February over antitrust concerns. Since then, the compay has used the past seven months to ramp up distribution in big box stores Target and Walmart — a timely retail strategy as the coronavirus pandemic pushed marketers to trim media spending and is driving consumer packaged goods sales.

Harry’s established its brand in its early days with messaging that challenged notions of toxic masculinity. In February 2018, the direct-to-consumer shaving company debuted a three-minute short film titled “A Man Like You” that depicts an alien who lands on Earth and ask a young boy to help him learn how to be a man. The boy realizes how rules imposed on modern men are often outdated and limiting, and the film closes with the line, “The truth is, there’s no one way to be a man.” Months later, Harry’s ran a spot starring musician Ludacris caring for his son and completing household chores — a bid to woo millennial fathers who have criticized marketers in the past for portraying dads as bumbling or lacking sensitivity. In 2019, an ad titled “Shave, or Don’t” featured men of diverse backgrounds, cultures and more, including a trans man.

Marketing a progressive vision of what defines manhood soon became commonplace in the traditionally stodgy razor category, with other brands like Procter & Gamble’s Gillette following along similar lines. Those ads scored at the time, but competitors copying the same messaging appears to have pushed Harry’s to find a new strategy that differentiates it from major players in the growing category.

Not the Same now signals that Harry’s is focusing on product-centered spots that showcase cost savings amid the pandemic that’s spurred economic strife for many consumers. The timing is right as people report growing tired of ads tied to COVID-19, and as marketers overall are returning to more creative campaigns after months of mostly somber spots.

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