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DollarShaveClub.com: Viral Video Explained

March 7, 2012

I can’t stop watching this video for DollarShaveClub.com. It’s a near-perfect business video. Why? Over multiple viewings, I’ve figured out the formula behind why it works so well.

1. It looks great.

This is a video for a business you’ve never heard of and you’re not sure is even real (dollarshaveclub.com sounds like something they’d come up with on Saturday Night Live), but it is commercial quality. I saw a few YouTube comments saying that it should have been on the Super Bowl. These days, it doesn’t take a multi-million dollar budget to make something that looks awesome – but it shows that online video viewers are making a judgment about high quality aesthetics.

2. The pacing is dead on.

The video times out at 1:34. This is longer than many viral videos (Old Spice averaged about 30 seconds) but it just flows so well. It keeps moving. There’s physical forward movement, as the spokesperson moves through the factory. There’s an unexpected element in each scene: The poster, the tennis racket, the sword, and that furry dude who catches the box. Nothing can be predicted. These non-sequitors are one of many tools to keep the viewer glued to the screen.

3. It’s actually funny.

So many videos and commercials attempt the kind of humor that dollarshaveclub.com employs. So many videos and commercials end up awkward and probably offensive. But the writing here is whip-smart, up-to-date, and the delivery is pitch-perfect. That is very hard to do.

4. The messaging is concise and effective.

What is the goal of this video, and how is messaging constructed to achieve these goals? Those are the types of questions I ask clients. I put the messages within a story, while dollarshaveclub.com is a straight pitch. Their video touches on three wide messages that every business wants to get across:

  • Who we are (likeable guys with a sense of humor)
  • Why you need us (you hate overpaying for stupid razors)
  • Why what we are doing is good for the world (we put people like Alejandra to work)

At the end of the video, I want to sign up for dollarshaveclub.com. And I’m probably not in their target market. Here’s the one big fail that web designer Warren Cardinal pointed out on Facebook: Their site was down all day under the weight of the traffic that the video drove to the site. With such a powerful call to action, your website needs to be optimized to handle the response. Online video marketing obviously doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Site’s back up now – time to order razor blades I don’t need and get back to watching the video!

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