Shaving startup Harry’s attempts to tackle male stereotypes in new campaign

The shaving subscription service is focusing on its brand purpose, rather than its product, in a new campaign that shines a light on the issue of male suicide.

Shaving subscription startup Harry’s is launching a new campaign that aims to tackle the harmful stereotypes around what it means to be a man.

The three-minute short film depicts an alien asking a young boy to show him how to be a man. The boy explains that: “men walk with confidence”, “a real man wants to be taken seriously” and “a man has to be strong and shouldn’t be afraid anything.” It transpires the boy’s father has died and as he hands his mother flowers he admits: “The truth is there is no one way to be a man.”

Matt Hiscock, UK general manager, tells Marketing Week: “We think it’s important to engage customers in conversation about what it means to be a man today. Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK and we want to encourage guys to talk more.

“We really wanted to promote this progressive masculinity.”

The campaign follows research by the brand with focus groups and draws on a survey of 2,000 men, who answered questions on what it means to be a modern man. The results were presented in parliament in November 2017 and found men were embracing “new, positive masculinity… adding progressive values to aid their mental health and well-being”.

Hiscock says he’s hoping that other male brands will follow suit, especially given the ad regulators’ focus on tackling gender stereotypes in advertising: “It’s time for brands to reflect on the way they portray men, instead of [using] general stereotypes.”

This is not the first time Harry’s has focused on male mental health. It already partners with UK charity Campaign Against Living Miserably, and donates 1% of its revenue towards its aim of reducing the suicide rate among men. “We care more about people than we do about selling razors,” Hiscock says.

Having launched in the UK just six months ago, the US brand feels building brand awareness is still its core focus. It “constantly” measures this using brand metrics, focus groups and reaction on social.

However, the new campaign is a shift away from promoting its core product to showcasing its brand purpose. And it is taking a different approach with media, with a focus on digital media. Harry’s will run the campaign on its own channels, and is partnering with “forward-thinking publications like Wired and Shortlist to get the message out there”.

READ MORE: ‘The razor subscription market is already on the verge of saturation’

The shaving subscription market is arguably becoming overcrowded with Unilever’s Dollar Shave Club, Gillette, Bic and UK startup Cornerstone battling it out for a share of the market. With all that competition, Harry’s thinks marketing plays a key role in its success. “We try to be nimble and try to establish channels that work. We keep a close eye on what’s happening out there and invest in our brand,” explains Hiscock.

Ultimately, he says, the biggest success will be if the campaign changes perceptions around men’s mental health. “We want to start a conversation and get other people talking about this and we think that’s more important than growing sales.”