Norelco is blazing a path through the largely unexplored world of men's body-hair removal with the release of Bodygroom, a new electric razor designed to clear-cut dense thickets of chest, back and even pubic hair-without the nasty irritation that would come from, say, dragging a set of chrome barbershop clippers across one's furry shoulders.
Respecting the apparently sensitive nature of male-body-hair issues, Norelco is eschewing TV spots, opting instead to drum up buzz in environments where typical standards of good taste just aren't that important: at celebrity events, on Howard Stern's satellite-radio show and on the Internet. Bodygroom was a mainstay of swag bags at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and it's the subject of the hottest viral effort going, courtesy of Tribal DDB.
That work somehow-and brilliantly-has turned trimming one's chest into a masculine endeavor, with an elegantly foul-mouthed (though bleeped-out) star-played by actor Jeff Meacham-who extols the lifestyle benefits of having sleek regions below the neck: "With a hair-free back, well-groomed shoulders, and an extra optical inch on my [bleep, while an image of carrots flashes on the screen], life has gotten pretty darn cozy," he smoothly intones.
There's an accompanying music video featuring a readymade classic: "It's so hard to be a Don Juan when you've got a chinchilla wrapped around your [bleep]."
Overall the work is a pretty daring entry from Norelco, not known for bold creative strides. The below-the-belt messaging, along with a desire to focus on men between 25 and 45, has ensured the media strategy will remain below-the-line. It's also a far cry from the recent men-focused programs that have preyed on the metrosexual streak running through male culture that's had the XY population plucking, gelling and moisturizing like never before.
In terms of strategy, Norelco didn't struggle with which notion of manhood to appeal to.
"We found that the need for grooming body-hair is ubiquitous, so that we shouldn't try to appeal to one type of man," said Zdenek Kratky, brand manager-shaving and grooming for Philips Norelco. "There was a conscious decision to take a more masculine skew on it."
Indeed, there's enough testosterone there that not even Rob Gregory, the group publisher of Maxim, would condemn the legions of men shearing themselves.
"The campaign is unabashedly heterosexual," Mr. Gregory said. "Our view is that man has to adapt his habitat and this is just the natural evolution of that habitat. Metrosexuality dies along with Cargo magazine."
As of May 11, Bodygroom was still atop Amazon.com's health and personal-care category, where it had been has been since May 2.
"A 22-year-old guy is going to be comfortable with Philips talking to him like this," said Craig Lambert, general manager for Tribal DDB, New York. "Now he has a richer, more-rounded image of the brand."
The viral itself could end up giving the Subservient Chicken a run for its money. Over the first six days, shaveeverywhere.com had just under 260,000 unique users with the average viewer spending about 7.5 minutes on the site. That exceeded Philips' expectations by a large margin, said Mr. Kratky.