7.22.2008

What I'd do, #1: Barbasol Ad

So, in addition to illustration and graphic design and web development, I sometimes also do marketing and brand management for people who have money and want to waste it on a guy with Akira all over his arm telling them what to do.

Something has recently struck me and just won't leave me alone.
It seems to me that, once one company goes a certain route to appeal to a demographic, just about every single company competing with them decides to do the same thing. Take the "Hip Urbanite" angle started by Volkswagon and now copied by Ford, Chevy and everyone else who has a hatchback and a hankering to appeal to young folks with more disposable income than common sense.

The most recent one to strike me is the "Hot, Big-Breasted Chick + Absurdist" movement that's running through men's hygiene products. A transforming razor that converts from high-tech gadget to a... Well, razor. Or the Bow-Chicka-Wow-Wow shit that Axe / Lynx is doing.

The most recent casualties are Old Spice and Barbasol. I can just see the board members at the holding companies for those brands gnashing their teeth and wringing their fingers when they see commercials like this one for Edge Gel:







Oh MAN! Once the Barbasol brand managers see this, they get feverish and immediately demand a Rolodex full of Hip Advertising FirmsTM to come up with something fresh and exciting and WHATEVER JUST GET ME BIG TITS AND ABSURDITY, NOW:





Come on.

This ad does not stand out. It does not promote brand awareness. It does not cause you to consider Barbasol before considering any of the 30 other brands of shaving cream / gel on the shelf at Wal-Mart. It just... Is. If anything, it reminds you just how shitty your job probably is. It reminds you that there are multiple levels above you, and in order to even consider getting to somewhere near the top, you're still going to have to push the mop, and after that, wear stupid glasses and sweat and shovel paper.

Furthermore, that ad cost probably $500,000 to make, and additional $5m - $30m to place and get promotion on networks and cable channels. And for what? The Hip Advertising FirmsTM will begin talking to you about brand awareness; that the new campaign promotes Barbasol Ultra as a Now and With-It brand on par with other "Hip" brands like Axe and Edge who are winning the 18 - 23 demo and creating loyal customers; the Ultra name will seperate this new product from the Barbasol of old; it's not your dad's shaving soap and SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY. You're wrong.

It will simply either be bought or not bought. Your ad does nothing. The slick binder with your proofs and storyboards impressed a brand manager, not the market. You get paid, the status quo is upheld, and everyone "wins". But nothing changes, it's just boring.

So, what I would do, if Barbasol's brand manager hired me:

A ten second spot. That's all - ten seconds.

The first two seconds would be a "pull out" shot of a video screen playing a hip, "edgy" big-titted blonde and fully-shaved gym-muscled male (make sure this guy looks as effiminate as possible, and completely disinterested in the female). Make them say some stupid catchphrase, like "SMOOTH!"

Once the zoom-out reached the point where the display (monitor playing the hip ad) was seen, the frame would then zoom-out quickly, and from stage right, a VERY muscular - but not bodybuilder type, more along the lines of a long-term mechanic with a real person's body (possibly a World's Strongest Man winner) man would enter. VERY manly - not this Metrosexual crap that companies seem to think we care about these days. The man would smash his fist down and through the monitor playing the commercial. He would finish wrecking this plasma / LCD display, pick up a can of Barbasol, and yell "BITCHES use GEL! MEN use BARBASOL!"

End commercial.

That's it.

Within a week, every feminist and possibly gay rights group would be in an uproar. The company would be forced to pull the ad. The ad would hit YouTube and Revver and Veoh and whatnot as a "banned ad."

Women don't buy Barbasol. They would call for a boycot. Big deal.

Homosexual men may buy Barbasol, but would probably call for a boycot themselves.

The very fact that females and "homosexuals" rebel against a product is a call for every "manly" man on earth to instantly purchase it, or have their manhood questioned. Every man who is aware of the ad who passes a shaving cream asile will, at the very least, consider the connotations of buying a gel.

Locker rooms across the nation would be stocked with nothing but Barbasol.

And the total cost of the ad? Probably $50k to shoot and produce, with another $1m in spot purchases. Once it's yanked, everything after that is viral and, thus, free. If the ad budget is $30m, you've got roughly +$28m to spend on giving away Barbasol to manly men who want it. Buy one, get one free. Get a free razor with Barbasol. What-have-you - the point is you have the money left over to get the product into the hands of those who want it.

And if the whole thing flopped and no one cared? You're out $1m + $50k on an ad. That's PEANUTS compared to the failure of the hip, slick big-titted absurd commercial you've made that does nothing for you, along with producing an entire line of "Ultra" cans.

Just my 10 minute consideration of this product and their silly commercial.