Harry's Explores Manhood in Rare Tear-Jerker Razor Ad

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After helping redefine the razor market with value-priced razors sold mostly online, Harry's is going a different route as well with its advertising.

In a campaign from new agency GSD&M, Austin, that launches Monday, a 3-minute video follows a fatherless boy who teaches a space alien the definition of "manhood." The tear-jerker spot, an unusual

approach for the category, focuses on the boy as he teaches the alien typically macho ways of dressing, walking and, of course, shaving. He then asks the visitor if he's seen his missing father (apparently an astronaut) up in space, and when given a sad look in response, his strong facade crumples a bit and he admits, "The truth is, there's no one way to be a man."

Procter & Gamble's Gillette—which owns the lion's share of the U.S. and global razor business despite inroads by the likes of Harry's, and which tends to have more straightforward work—also took a narrative approach in Father's Day "stunt" ads in which boys who were used to asking the internet their questions were put into a room where they had to ask their dads.

Harry's spent most of the past year with TV ads from Partners & Spade, which continues to work on the account. That creative focused on founders and co-CEOs Jeff Raider and Andy-Katz Mayfield, and how they started the company.

"We're 5 years old, and I think we've done a pretty good job of introducing ourselves," says VP of Marketing Lorna Peters. "Now we want guys to understand what we care about and recognize their voice in Harry's values."

"When we started Harry's, one of the things that didn't resonate with us was other brands in the space telling us we had to be the perfect guys, be the best and have a perfect jaw line, be an expert in shaving and stand there looking in a mirror with six-pack abs," says Raider.

Harry's purpose is "to be part of the conversation about what it means to be a man," says Jay Russell, chief creative officer of GSD&M, an issue he says has even more resonance in the wake of Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement.

Harry's will expand the campaign with additional work from the Washington Post's WP BrandStudio, Peters says.

Besides the founder ads, Harry's has spent much of the past year using heavy digital display advertising to counter Gillette ads that claim most Harry's users drop out shortly after trying the value-priced products. Those ads followed Harry's move into Target, which helped fuel its gains on Gillette. An analysis by 1010data in October found Harry's has been gaining e-commerce share in the U.S. on Gillette and rival Unilever's Dollar Shave Club.

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