Dollar Shave Club Viral Video

Viral Videos: Effective Marketing That’s Cheap?

Updated 1/18


Your business is miniscule; you’re just starting up, and you really don’t have a clue how to launch a marketing campaign that will grab people by their freshly pressed shirt collars and make them pay attention to your business, especially when your budget is that of a college student’s summer paycheck. So how do you get yourself out there?


Online (and Viral) Videos

While social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are inexpensive mediums for promoting your service or product, online videos are an equally, if not more, effective form of advertising. Using online videos as an advertising tool is a concept that a lot of businesses, big and small, have tried.


In a 2012 survey by online video advertising service provider BrightRoll, it was found that “64 percent of advertisers state that online video is an equally or more effective medium than TV”. More recently, BrightRoll’s 2015 statistics show that this belief has only increased with time. Digital video has become more popular, and online video advertising has been ruled as still effective. The 2015 report revealed that now “72 percent of agency respondents believed that online video advertising is as effective or more effective than TV” (BrightRoll).


For some businesses, these online video ads have brought in more attention and sales than any other marketing strategies previously used. In addition, some of these online videos have been so successful that they have reached a “viral” status, including Dollar Shave Club and Firespotter.


Dollar Shave Club

Michael Dubin, CEO of Dollar Shave Club, produced a video for his business in March of 2012. His video used the humorous tagline, “Our blades are f**king great.”



Since 2012, the video has been viewed approximately 24 million times on YouTube. It’s creative, funny and attention grabbing. Yet, it only cost $4,500 to produce. Dubin managed to bring millions of unshaven, curious customers to his website with only 1 minute and 33 seconds, a feat many commercials can’t accomplish. His secret? Don’t take yourself too seriously, get right to the point, have a reason for being, be unexpected, and “use a bear” (All Things Digital).


Firespotter Labs and Nosh

Mobile app company Firespotter Labs has produced videos for an app called Nosh, in which friends are able to rate restaurants so that you can easily decided where to eat. Nosh founder, Alex Cornell produced “Nosh: Three Dinners”, as well as “Nosh: 404”, a military-inspired comedy about a webpage that’s been lost.



“Nosh: 404” has garnered approximately 600,000 views between Vimeo and Youtube, collectively. Cornell discussed the process of making the video with me:


“Usually the idea for the video has been percolating around someone’s head for a while. This particular idea was something we joked about when we first started Nosh…It was filmed and edited in a day, with a production budget of about $300.”


Cornell says they used his personal equipment (a Canon 5Dmkii and a Rode Video microphone), and that it took about 3 hours to film and 6 hours to edit. “Cast and crew was a combination of friends and coworkers (five of us total).”


So how was the viral video received? “[T]hat video did about as well as it possibly could have, terminating in Time Magazine tweeting about it and landing on the front page of Reddit…Couldn’t have asked for better coverage.”


In relation to the effect of the video, Cornell says, “I would say it absolutely raised the profile and brand awareness of both Nosh and Firespotter during this time. Page views of course went way up, as did downloads. The spike lasted about as long as the coverage, which was about 2 weeks.”


What’s New?

While the examples above are still great stories on the success creating a viral video can foster, the online video world has expanded since 2012.


The most prominent difference between the 2012 statistics and the 2015 report is the projected growth in mobile spending. The 2015 survey showed that 60 percent of the respondents believed that mobile video would yield the highest increase in the coming year. Additionally, in 2012, 52 percent of respondents projected that they were likely to spend some of their video ad budget on tablet devices. By 2014, the response increased to 79 percent. These figures are poised to increase with time.


The style of more recent viral ads is still focused mostly on humorous aspects. For example, Chatbooks, a startup founded in 2014, is gaining a good amount of traction with the release of their latest ad.



The ad has gained over 1.5 million views since mid-October 2016. And, after the ad release, Chatbooks was named one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Brilliant Companies” in 2016. It has a humorous tone, similar to the Dollar Shave Club ads. Though the ads were posted four years apart, it is clear that even though the viral video landscape has changed, some trends never go out of style.


So if you’re looking for an inexpensive and tangible way to get your business’s marketing campaign off the ground, look no further than your favorite social media websites. Small businesses are finding success even with the tiniest bit of online coverage. Take it from Cornell, “Do I think videos are an effective way to market? Absolutely. If it can be done in a cheap and efficient way, then there is no downside.”

Shannon Strong is a video intern and idea curator at Green Buzz Agency. She is currently studying film and television production at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. If you’d like, you can reach her at
*This article ran in the July/August issue of The Social Media Monthly.


Katie Murray contributed to this post.

  • This post is accurate and I definitely agree that online video is a great way to market some (not all) businesses. However, saying “I’m going to create a viral video” is akin to saying “I’m going to write a bestselling novel.” The viral aspect is uncontrollable; it’s lightning in a bottle. Sure, a company can shoot a video, but it’s the public who determines if it’s share-worthy enough to actually “go viral,” which is very rare.

    Your generous use of the term ‘viral video’ as a synonym for ‘online video’ may be misleading to business owners who don’t realize that for every Dollar Shave Club, Old Spice Guy and BlendTech, there are literally thousands of hours of videos posted online that, despite best intentions, made nary a blip on the general public’s – much less pop culture’s – radar.

    August 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm

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