All Commentary
Friday, March 24, 2017

Harry’s Had the Best Response to Corporate Bullying

And the internet agrees.

[Editor’s note: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all corporate disputes were handled this way rather than resorting to the weaponry of courts, laws, and government. Here we had a clear case of falsely negative advertising. It was resolved peacefully with some degree of wit and elan. Go Harry’s!]

Full disclosure: I work at Harry’s. My desk is on the drafty side of the office and is covered with books, shaving supplies and the candy and toys my team members have brought home from vacations. Everyone here is smarter than me but thankfully are the kind of people that would never rub it in. Needless to say, it’s a nice place to work.

As you may have heard, Gillette recently launched a website claiming “most guys leave Harry’s after trying it.” They also offered guys a free Gillette razor in exchange for their stories as to why they left us. At the same time, they apparently started buying key search terms on Google like “Harry’s” so that when you searched for us, the website claiming “most guys leave Harry’s” was the first thing that popped up. It was a nice little ad campaign.

The Lie

The problem is that the central claim in the campaign is not true. Contrary to Gillette’s claim, most guys re-order from Harry’s after trying it.

We have the actual data on our customers’ order histories, which show Gillette’s claims to be false.

As a member of our 15-person marketing team, I can honestly say it took us by surprise. We actually hold our competition in high regard and respect the work that they do. Although we may be only four years old, owning and operating our factory, expanding into Target and figuring out global supply chains have taught us how challenging it is to succeed in the men’s grooming industry.

We’re not so naive to believe there isn’t corporate bullying in the world. We just didn’t think our largest competitor would stoop to the level of publishing blatantly false information. We also understand the pressure giant corporations face to improve stock prices and stem the loss of market share to companies like us. That said, it doesn’t make it right.

Thankfully in this case, because we’re a digital company with direct relationships with our customers, we have the actual data on our customers’ order histories, which show Gillette’s claims to be false.

To Sue or Not to Sue

After the initial shock wore off, it was time to make the decision as to how we would respond. We quickly rebutted Gillette’s claim in the Wall Street Journal and then convened a meeting to decide what further action we would take. While we weren’t sure exactly what we would do, we did know that our response would be in line with our values and that anything that diminished integrity would be thrown out—that included competition by litigation.

After a few bags of chips and some brainstorming, we decided to send a friendly letter from our legal team (one guy, Jack) simply asking Gillette to fix their “typo.” We wanted to give Gillette the chance to do the right thing and change the claim to “Most guys leave stay with Harry’s after trying it.”

We were excited to see that the letter ended up getting printed in some publications and in a few legal blogs because of its entertainment value. But what really warmed our hearts was the huge outpouring of support we received after sharing the letter on Facebook. Comments like:


It was all the proof we needed that we made the right decision.

At the end of the day, all we want to do is make high-quality razors that don’t look like spaceships, sell them at a fair price and make the shave in your routine a little more enjoyable. While it’s never fun to be attacked, we believe Gillette’s ad campaign means that we must be doing something right. It shows that the business model that our founders developed really works.

But the only way for you to know if it really works is giving us a try. We’ve created a way for our customers to try us for free when they sign up if they just cover the shipping (it’s $3, our finance team wouldn’t let us comp the whole thing…sorry.) If you feel so inclined, we’d love to show you what we can do. We hope that we can prove to you that you can make high-quality products, charge a fair price and not rely on misleading ads or suing competitors in order to be successful.

We hope to shave you soon.

Reprinted from Harrys.

  • Dan has written for the likes of J.Crew, Ralph Lauren and now Harry's. He's been lucky enough to have his work appear on billboards in Times Square, the subways of New York City, television, radio, online and once even went viral for a holiday window at J.Crew.