WEEK 34: Busted

Regular readers of this journal will remember that in one of my previous entries I wrote of how a lot of marketers make the mistake of trying to put a formula to creativity, and algorithmically create communication pieces that they predict will do well, based on the success of other similar content. The example I stated was a brand video done by the Dollar Shave Club. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here:

I also listed a few reasons why this video did well, but for the sake of those who haven’t read my previous entries, here is a quick recap:

  1. The video is highly consumable, and to-the-point
  2. It is led by the founder of the Dollar Shave Club, and his natural charisma gives the video authenticity and appeal
  3. The product itself is incredibly disruptive – in fact, it is so disruptive that a simple, direct content piece is all it needed to capture its audience’s attention


After the success of this video, many brands approached us, asking us to create the same type of video for them, their primary reasons being:

  1. This format was easy to produce in a low budget
  2. Based on the success of the Dollar Shave Club video, this format would probably work for them too


We tried to explain that just because this video worked for the Dollar Shave Club, this does not guarantee that it will work for everyone else, as the reason that the video worked was not simply a result of its format (other elements, such as authenticity, production values and the nature of the product itself played a huge role in the success of the video). Moreover, audiences today are highly discerning and do not appreciate anything that looks copied.

Some brands listened to us, others did not. I will now show you a couple of examples of brands that decided to copy the Dollar Shave Club instead of simply being inspired by them and making something unique.

(At this point I would like to clarify that Humour Me had nothing to do with the creation of these videos. We just found them online)

And without further ado, I present to you video one:

The similarities between this video and the Dollar Shave Club video are glaringly obvious – right down to the tagline, which borders on plagiarism (the Dollar Shave Club video ends with a line saying ‘Isn’t it about time?’ while this video says ‘It’s about time’). While I’m sure you noticed the similarities, here are some differences:

  1. The video was led by an actor and not the founder of the company, thereby decreasing its authenticity and making it look more like just another advertisement
  2. Production values were much less finessed in this video, thus decreasing its appeal
  3. The product was not particularly disruptive
  4. Instead of focusing on one clear aspect of the product, the video highlighted many different things (they cut out the middle men, they work with ‘the best Italian design houses to bring you the latest designs’, their production process is scientific, with multiple quality checks, they are cheaper than other brands, etc.). This could leave viewers confused as to what the key message is. The more information you give your consumers, the less they remember.


The audience called them out as well:

Having said that, we can still credit the above video for a certain degree of originality in their script and treatment, which is more than I can say for video two:

One of my teammates took to the comments and asked the creators for the inspiration behind this video, to which they replied, “We are Digital marketers so we have to think unique…”

It is my earnest plea to all the marketers out there to recognise that there is no formula for creativity, and copying another successful content piece will not work; even if your copycat content does well, the most it will ever be is second best.

See you next week!     

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