The following is simply a (virtually) verbatim copy of an analysis of an earlier commercial. It seems as though two and a half years later, the same phenomenon still rules the day, unfortunately.
While the existence of this commercial appears to be proof that the American spirit of independence and a hatred of (overbearing, unnecessary) authority is alive and well, it is actually proof of the exact opposite. Many Americans, rightfully, are unhappy with the treatment they receive from airport security, but are any of them doing anything about it? Have there been notable or widespread incidents of civil disobedience? Ballot measures? Articulate criticisms? Pressure on policy makers? (To say nothing of a demand for decisive, ruthless military action against foreign individuals and states that perpetrate violence against Americans – rendering defensive “security measures” against Americans unnecessary?) No, there haven’t been. None of these things have occured.
To date, the best protest Americans have been able to mount against being pushed around by their government and it’s otherwise-unemployable, petty tyrant lackies is to mock them on talk shows and in commercials – while the abuse of their civil liberties by these people continues. This commercial is not a celebration of the American spirit, it is a confession that the American people have lost it.
What this commercial does is appeal to American’s guilt and self-contempt for having let themselves be reduced to this. It allows them to feel, for a moment at least, that they don’t deserve it. It tells them, in effect: “No, you are not a passive, spiritually-defeated person. Even though you don’t do anything about it, and even though you have the power to, you don’t like it – and that’s enough.” The company then holds out buying their product as “doing something about it”, in the hopes of channeling (misdirecting) an appropriate desire to defend one’s freedom and dignity into a petty, trivial act of principled action (the refusal to compromise on quality [or price] in the selection of [razor blades]). It flatters the viewer, and (hopefully) endears the company to him.
It is a disgusting, pernicious way to sell something – and it stinks of desperation. If [Dollar Shave Club] really cared about the fact that every day Americans “put up with alot”, they wouldn’t be willing undermine their incentive to resist putting up with more just to make a buck.
This commercial is just another tired – if particularly poignant – example of the “get out in front of it” tactic of marketing which has been written about extensively elsewhere on this blog. It is, unfortunately, one of the most prevalent forms of advertising in today’s unpredictable, desperate macroeconomic environment.