Dollar Shave Club made its name largely on viral video and heavy Facebook advertising. But it's about to take to TV in a much bigger way with a campaign breaking this week from the director behind spots for big spenders such as Geico and Dos Equis.
Chalk at least some of that up to success. Founder and CEO Michael Dubin said the upstart subscription razor brand finished October with 1.1 million active subscribers, $7.2 million in monthly sales and what the company estimates as a 10% volume share of U.S. cartridges.
All those numbers are well ahead of where Mr. Dubin put the company in May, when he said it had 600,000 subscribers, projected $60 million in sales for the full year (up from $20 million in 2013) and quoted a 6.2% share.
Mr. Dubin declined to say what his budget would be or whether it would come from revenues or the $50 million he raised in a Series C round of venture capital funding in September. Either way, the time has come for a bigger dose of TV. Last year, it had $2.9 million in measured cable spending, according to Kantar Media.
"It's no secret that advertising on television is a great tool in building your brand," Mr. Dubin said. "Some of the messages we wanted to communicate felt really right for television."
Three-year old DSC has been a major disruptor in the razor market, increasing sales and grabbing share while others faulter. In the retail market tracked by Nielsen, razor blade unit sales are off by 11% for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 25, according to Deutsche Bank
Procter & Gamble Co.'s category heavyweight Gillette lately has heavily featured its own online subscription offers through e-commerce retailers in ads, but Mr. Dubin said that's had no noticeable effect on Dollar Shave Club sales, which hit record levels last month.
Like all DSC's efforts to date, the four new 30-second ads rely on trenchant humor and focus on the high cost and inconvenience of store-bought blades. Hapless customers trying to buy razors in a store are alternately Tased, felled by a tranquilizer dart, punched in the legs or forced to strip nearly naked, either to get into locked razor cases or pay for what they find there.
Mr. Dubin, a former improv comedian, co-wrote the spots with DSC Creative Director Alec Brownstein. His friend Lucia Aniello, who produced the original viral ad, has moved on to such things as directing Broad City on Comedy Central. "It was important to us to work with somebody of that caliber," Mr. Dubin said, so he turned to Radical Media and director Steve Miller.
Mr. Miller has worked with The Most Interesting Man in the World, but he said he couldn't recall a time when a company's CEO, who also co-wrote the scripts, was at the shoot.
"It was really interesting for sure," Mr. Miller said. "He's really smart and funny and cool. He was great to collaborate with."