Barbasol

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This article is about the brand. For the David Cook single, see Bar-ba-sol.
new Barbasol logo 2013
Type Shaving cream
Manufacturer Barbasol LLC
Country of origin United States
Introduced 1919
Variants Original, Soothing Aloe, Sensitive Skin, Arctic Chill, Pacific Rush, Mountain Blast, Skin Conditioner and Therapeutic
Website barbasol.com

Barbasol is an American brand of shaving cream and aftershave created by MIT Professor Frank Shields in 1919 in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is currently owned by Perio, Inc.[1]

Invention[edit]

Unsatisfied with traditional shaving methods, MIT Professor Frank Shields set out to create a product that would provide for a less irritating shave. In 1919, he succeeded with the invention of Barbasol – a shaving cream that did not have to be worked into a lather. The original formula was a thick lotion, unlike the aerosol foams common today, and is most closely related to the modern Barbasol Non-Aerosol Therapeutic Shave Cream.

Brand history[edit]

Photo of new Barbasol can design

Napco Corporation[edit]

Barbasol was first manufactured under the Napco Corporation name, a company Frank Shields started before inventing Barbasol. After the shaving cream sales increased, they outgrew Napco and The Barbasol Company was created.

The Barbasol Company[edit]

After it quickly outgrew Napco, Frank Shields established The Barbasol Company in 1920, which owned the brand for 42 years. In the mid-1950s, design engineer Robert P. Kaplan of Rochester, NY invented and patented the first aerosol shaving cream can, and the Barbasol Company changed the formula from the thick cream in a tube to the soft, fluffy foam familiar in the aerosol cans today. The can design mimicked a barber's pole, and is still the trademark design used today.

Pfizer[edit]

In 1962, Pfizer bought The Barbasol Company and brought Barbasol in the portfolio. During this time, they developed many additional versions of Barbasol to complement the original formulation, including Soothing Aloe, Skin Conditioner, Sensitive Skin, Extra Protection, Cool Menthol and Lemon Lime.

As gels became popular, Pfizer created gel versions of Barbasol in the Original, Soothing Aloe, Sensitive Skin, and Extra Protection varieties.

In the 1980s, Pfizer made Barbasol Glide Stick, a deodorant.

By the 1990s, Barbasol brand equity had diminished. Sales had slowed. Pfizer, primarily a pharmaceutical company, looked to sell the brand.

Perio, Inc.[edit]

Perio bought the Barbasol brand from Pfizer in 2001 and has since been attempting to revitalize it.

Perio consolidated the Barbasol line to Original, Soothing Aloe, and Skin Conditioner, and added Pacific Rush.

A non-aerosol cream that simulated the original product was created in 2003, but was reformulated to the Barbasol Non-Aerosol Therapeutic Shave Cream in 2006 (Pfizer also had a similar simulation of the original Barbasol cream, but discontinued it in 1999).

Recently, Barbasol released Sensitive Skin, Mountain Blast (a new fragrance), and Arctic Chill (menthol) to its line of shaving creams. Several aftershave products have also been introduced under the Barbasol brand name.

Barbasol's market share continues to grow, with one in four men now using it.[2][third-party source needed]

Perio is based in Dublin, Ohio.

Advertising[edit]

Early advertising[edit]

Barbasol became a very popular shaving cream.. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, many print advertisements were used to support its growth. Many of the print ads featured men and women in situations that would be considered risqué for their time.

The company also used several famous spokesmen throughout the years, including actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., star baseball players Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby, as well as football legend Knute Rockne.[3][4]

In 1938, Barbasol sponsored a car in the Indianapolis 500, and painted it to look like a tube of the cream. Driven by George Bailey, the car made it to lap 166 of 200 before suffering clutch problems. The following year, the Barbasol car finished in tenth place.[5] The team got involved as a sponsor the NASCAR Busch Series in the late 1990s, sponsoring Akins Motorsports and drivers Glenn Allen, Jr. and Elton Sawyer.

The tagline throughout this time was "No brush, no lather, no rub in."[6]

Singin' Sam, the Barbasol Man[edit]

One of the most nostalgic figures in Barbasol's history was Singin' Sam the Barbasol Man, whose real name Harry Frankel.[7]

Frankel got his start as a vaudevillian, and eventually became the spokesperson for a lawnmower company and began broadcasting out of Cincinnati. The Barbasol Company soon heard him and, in 1931, signed him on as Singin' Sam the Barbasol Man, where he made famous the Barbasol jingle, "Barbasol, Barbasol ... No brush, no lather, no rub-in ... Wet your razor, then begin."

Recent advertising[edit]

Barbasol's recent advertising is hardly as suggestive as its 1920s counterparts. Many television ads from 2001 to 2009 have featured a close-call situation, followed by one person saying "Close shave!" and another person responding with "Better buy Barbasol!"

Recently, the "close shave" double entendre has been replaced with the more patriotic tagline "Close Shave America, Close Shave Barbasol." (This can be heard, for example, on the Fred Thompson Show radio podcast). The related advertising relies less on tongue-in-cheek humor and associates the brand more with a warm, homey feeling.

In February 2012, Barbasol signed a five-year agreement with Major League Soccer side Columbus Crew that would see the brand become the club's shirt sponsor.[8]

American icon[edit]

Barbasol's longevity in the American marketplace has made it an unmistakable icon for shaving. It is often the representative for a can of shaving cream, simply for its recognizable packaging, and can be seen in such movies as Jurassic Park, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, and Evan Almighty.

  • In the 1950s musical Guys and Dolls, the character Benny Southstreet sings, "When a lazy slob takes a goody steady job, And he smells from Vitalis and Barbasol..." as a metaphor for a man cleaning himself up to retain a woman's affections.
  • In the 1998 musical satire, Reefer Madness, the character Mr. Poppy sings, "Sometimes men would come to call who stank of sin and Barbasol, they'd ask kids if they felt at all like having themselves a few kicks!" in reference to the product's popularity during the 1930s, in which the show is set.
  • The 2008 American Idol winner David Cook's second single is titled "Bar-ba-sol"

North American distribution[edit]

Barbasol is distributed throughout North America.

Country Distributor
Canada Today's Concepts
Mexico Global Tradings, S.A. de C.V.
USA Perio, Inc. (owner)

References[edit]

  1. ^ United States. "Perio, Inc. (Barbasol Brands)". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  2. ^ "Barbasol /// History". Barbasol.com. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  3. ^ "Barbasol /// History". Barbasol.com. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  4. ^ "Barbasol advertisements". Barbasol.com. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  5. ^ The official website of the Indianapolis 500 (Indy500.com) provides box scores for 1938 and 1939.
  6. ^ "Barbasol /// History". Barbasol.com. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  7. ^ "Singin' Sam, the Barbasol Man". Mrlinfo.org. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  8. ^ "Barbasol /// The Columbus Crew". Barbasol.com. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 

External links[edit]