The Man Behind the Beard – Ryan Goss
It has been six years now since I have seen my chin. My beard is just as much a part of me as my ears or nose; I could never see myself getting rid of it. A well-groomed beard can give a man a sense of confidence and a little extra swagger. A beard can also keep you warm and hide some unfortunate faces. You can see in the mainstream media that many celebrities have switched over from clean-shaven to join their bearded brethren. Beards have become a craze that has swept over the nation and the world. This sentiment is precisely what Dollar Beard Club has tapped into with their commercial. It is not about the product they are selling, but more the feeling and camaraderie you get from having a beard. This commercial invokes that instinct some men have to be an alpha male while learning how to maintain a beard, and keeping a comedic overtone throughout.
Like Samson’s hair, a man’s beard can be a source of power. Whether you are hiding a smaller than average chin, old acne scars, or you want to keep your face warm, a beard can help create a new you. According to Brian Cornwell and his fifty facts about beards, “fifty-five percent of men from the around world can be seen sporting a beard or facial hair.” (Cornwell) This statistic shows that Dollar Beard Club has a high demographic in which to work. These days masculinity is being called toxic. Men are being attacked for being competitive, dominant, and aggressive, all traits that proved very useful during the early days of civilization. These are also traits that go hand in hand with the military and sports. Two areas that are revered in the United States, but when we aren’t at war or playing a game, they are looked down upon. This commercial pushes back against that stereotype navigating frame by frame through what could be considered masculine traits while explaining the intricacies of growing and maintaining a beard. Chris Stoikos, the owner of Dollar Beard Club, goes as far as to make fun of clean-shaven men by having them pull his sled in the opening scene. This sets the tone for the commercial, driving home the theme that masculinity is not only okay but that it should be celebrated.
In an interview with Perpetual Traffic, a podcast that shares cutting-edge strategies on acquiring leads and sales for your business through paid traffic. Stoikos reveals that in thirteen months, his ad was viewed over one hundred million times. (Stoikos, Perpetual Traffic) In that same period, the company grossed over eleven and half-million dollars without the help of investors. That is an awe-inspiring feat, mainly since the video was shot in only a day and a half. The commercial was a direct response to another company called Dollar Shave Club, a company centered on shaving, which has put out similar videos, but to the opposite effect. Stoikos tapped into the camaraderie of the bearded community, “When a clean-shaven guy passes a clean-shaven guy in the street you don’t look at him and say, “Hey, nice clean shave, brother.” It’s kind of a tag line I always rock because you think of the other side of it and when a beard passes a beard in the street there’s this underlying brotherhood.”(Stoikos, Perpetual Traffic) This brotherhood is what Dollar Shave Club had been missing from the start, the idea that you are part of a tribe.
The attention span of the average American is shrinking, look to social media as an example. Facebook is dwindling while Instagram and Twitter are growing in numbers because of the short form writing medium. They are choosing to make the commercial almost two minutes, which could be considered a risk. According to Shawn Forno, a writer for Idea Rocket, “The most effective YouTube pre-roll ad length is between fifteen to thirty seconds. Twenty seconds is the industry standard, but ads as short as five seconds and as long as one-minute are both good options as long as they’re engaging.”(Forno, Idea Rocket) So how did this two-minute video capture the audience’s interest? The answer is laughter; using comedy to keep the attention of the viewers. The video starts with a hook; Stoikos introduces himself as the owner of Dollar Beard Club while sitting in a chair. The camera slowly pans out, and you see clean-shaven men pulling him through the tundra on a sled. The video continues by changing scenery and costumes every ten seconds to keep you interested with new jokes. According to a recent marketing study by the textbook rental service Chegg, almost eighty percent of college-age kids remember ads that make them laugh. (Kramer, “The Power of Humor in Marketing”) So why are the ads so effective, mainly because the set-up premises are relatable and easy to understand? They are edgy in a way that is consistent with the brand identity. And the fact that their CEO is willing to make fun of both his industry and himself doesn’t hurt. (Kramer, “The Power of Humor in Marketing”)
Anyone following trends in the media these days will know that diversity is a hot topic. A lot of companies are making inclusion a part of their standards; Dollar Beard Club is no different. Throughout the commercial, you will notice Stoikos visits various parts of the world in each scene and interacts with a diverse cast of people. This allows people of different ethnicities to visualize themselves using the products offered by the company. Diversity in advertisements has the potential to generate profitable benefits. Not only does this increase the number of viewers, but it has the potential to reach minority groups. These groups are tightly knit communities that have influence among their peers on social media. Due to society now focusing on inclusion and politically correct culture, it is no longer enough to represent only the majority groups in advertisements. Though diversity is not the main focus of the commercial, it is essential for new ads.
The reason that an ad is created is to not only make consumers aware of the company but also to push their product. Throughout this commercial, Stoikos mentions different products that the company offers, once again using wit and comedy to transition from product to product seamlessly. A significant issue with this commercial is that the consumer may not fully comprehend all of the products available. Nowhere in this advertisement does Stoikos show a product, or what that product can do. He mentions in the video that “our price can transform you from an uncut savage, into a bearded king.”(Stoikos, “Dollar Beard Club Growing Wild HUGH Discount”) Although this is a descriptive way of talking about the result of the product, Stoikos doesn’t mention what specific product will get you that result. I believe that explaining the product in a little bit more detail would give the consumer a better understanding of what they would be purchasing, leading to more sales on the website.
From the number of views to the amount of profit Dollar Beard Club has seen from the beginning, it is evident that the commercial worked. The use of masculinity to sell the product is almost a given with a company selling beard oils and creams, and in a society that is discriminating against what is considered toxic masculinity, commercials like this are needed. Honing in on a specific group was definitely a factor of this company’s success. Consumers want to feel like they are part of a group or an exclusive club, and the bearded community has been multiplying in the past few years. Though the company could have been more descriptive of their products, the wit and humor still keep you hooked throughout the entire ad. This ad left me laughing and feeling good whether or not I am interested in the product, leaving a great reflection on the company.