Lynx is launching ads on Snapchat and YouTube inviting young men to view a humorous, down-to-earth series of tutorials showing them how to shave their chests, balls and legs.
"Lynx Shavetorials", which breaks in the UK today, emerged after Unilever noticed an increase in "guys searching for how to shave various body parts", Caroline Gregory, the global brand director for Lynx/Axe, explained.
It evolved from 72&Sunny Amsterdam’s creative team chewing over online shaving tutorials fronted by "mostly good-looking, shredded guys" while obsessing over the emerging online phenomenon of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) content.
Each of the three four-minute tutorials is fronted by a British actor, who was picked from a longlist of 40 men who turned up to the agency’s casting in London, and is as realistic as possible (coconuts are employed as a stand-in for a certain part of the male anatomy).
The campaign was created by 72&Sunny Amsterdam's creative team Chris Baur and Rachel Sato-Banks working with creative director Gregg Clampffer, who told Campaign: "We were thinking, what would online shaving tutorials be like from a guy who was more approachable."
The actor employs Lynx’s Shower & Shave Foam range, but much more noticeably the films employ the style of ASMR videos, which are intended to provoke a sensory response in the viewer such as relaxing them or making hairs stand up on their neck.
He talks to the camera in a soft voice, while microphones conspicuously placed around the bathroom amplify noises such as the squirting of foam and rustling of a dressing gown. The style is intended to drive home the strapline "feels as smooth as it sounds".
Clampffer said: "ASMR came up because of the visceral nature of it and also that it lent itself well to a product demonstration. And we thought it was funny to see ASMR in a shower with a guy rather than through a webcam in somebody’s room."
It is a very different take on ASMR to that offered by Michelob, the US beer brand that invited viewers to savour the sounds of beer poured by the model Zoe Kravitz in its Super Bowl spot this year. (It was also conceived independently, with production taking place in November 2018.)
It is also a change of tone from recent marketing in the grooming space, particularly Gillette’s "The best men can be" ad, which calls on men to improve themselves by standing up against bullying, sexism and harassment.
Clampffer said: "We’re trying to lighten the tone a little bit. Maybe toxic masculinity doesn’t need a lecture. Maybe it needs a laugh. We’re talking to 15-year-old kids, you have to do something a little bit different and you don’t have to petrify them."
Gregory added: "Lynx would say masculinity doesn’t need to be redefined, it needs to be undefined. There is no one way to be a guy. This ad helps normalise curiosity and experimentation, encouraging guys to be whoever they want to be."
Clampffer praised the actor, Matthew Alexander Kauffman, and the director, Cloé Bailly from production company Caviar, who got the job after the agency used Free The Bid to invite female directors to pitch.
"Matthew just won out at casting," Clampffer said. "He was super-funny, he exuded confidence and was really laid-back. He had also done some ASMR in the past, which helped. Cloé had a great sense of humour and it helped that she also geeked out on ASMR videos. There was a really good chemistry between them.
"About 75% of the films were as scripted and they improvised, adding stuff like the dolphin sounds he does in the shower which for me ended up being one of the funniest parts."
The agency also created 10-second cut-downs to run on Snapchat as part of a media plan.
Clampffer said: "The response we’ve been getting internally from the Unilever people is ‘Oh great, we can be funny again’."