Four days ago, a YouTube video from DollarShaveClub.com went on a hot streak reminiscent of the Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign. Company CEO Michael Dubin introduces viewers to the Dollar Shave Club concept (a subscription service for razor blades) in an irony-heavy video set in the company warehouse. What's interesting about the success of the video is that it signals something about the kind of brand communication that will work moving forward. This video is packed with two things: information about what makes the product different (a combination of price and convenience) and jokes that make it worth spreading.
We hear lots of talk about the Facebook generation, and how we're over-sharers, self-involved, and technologically promiscuous. But what this generational analysis has missed is how very focused on function the world is becoming. Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest found their early audience on the back of bold functionality. All that technology that we've been noodling with for the last decade has taught us to evaluate on features, and let brand take a back seat.
The age of the disingenuous commercial is over. The age of the informative and deadpan (or even earnest) delivery is here. If you're Stouffer's for instance, you can't get away with putting a pretend father and son farming team in an ad and having them argue about whose ingredient is better. It's like situational comedy from the 90's versus The Colbert Report. One is fake and trying to be real, and the other is real but toying with fake.
I think we'll see upstart brands like Dollar Shave Club, TOMS, Nest, Jawbone, and others start to take dramatic share from old guard players in the coming year or two.