|Defunct (merged into Procter & Gamble)|
|Headquarters||Boston, Massachusetts, United States|
|King C. Gillette|
|Parent||Procter & Gamble|
Gillette is a brand of Procter & Gamble currently used for safety razors, among other personal hygiene products. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, it is one of several brands originally owned by The Gillette Company, a leading global supplier of products under various brands, which was acquired by P&G in 2005. Their slogan is, "The Best a Man Can Get". The original Gillette Company was founded by King C. Gillette in 1895 as a safety razor manufacturer.
On October 1, 2005, Procter & Gamble finalized its purchase of The Gillette Company. As a result of this merger, the Gillette Company no longer exists. Its last day of market trading - symbol G on the New York Stock Exchange - was September 30, 2005. The merger created the world's largest personal care and household products company. In addition to Gillette, the company marketed under Braun, Duracell and Oral-B, among others, which have also been maintained by P&G.
The Gillette Company's assets were initially incorporated into a P&G unit known internally as "Global Gillette". In July 2007, Global Gillette was dissolved and incorporated into Procter & Gamble's other two main divisions, Procter & Gamble Beauty and Procter & Gamble Household Care. Gillette's brands and products were divided between the two accordingly.
Early Gillette products
The first safety razors using the new disposable blade, were introduced around 1902. Gillette maintained a limited range of models of this new type razor until 1938 and the introduction of the 'Sheraton'. The great innovation of this new model was the 'Twist to Open', or TTO design, which made blade changing much easier than previously, wherein the razor head had to be detached from the handle.
1947 saw the introduction of the new 'Super Speed' model, also a TTO design. This was updated in 1954, with different versions being produced to shave more closely - the degree of closeness being marked by the color of the handle tip.
In 1958, the first 'adjustable' razor was produced. This allowed for an adjustment of the blade to increase the closeness of the shave. The model, in various versions, remained in production until 1986.
The Super Speed razor was again redesigned in 1966 and given a black plastic handle. It remained in production until 1986. A companion model, 'The Knack', with a longer plastic handle, was produced from 1966 to 1976.
Trac II was the world's first two-blade razor, debuting in 1971. Gillette claimed that the second blade cut the number of strokes required and reduced facial irritation. The Trac II Plus is an identical model but adds a lubricating strip at the top of the blade. The blades and handles are interchangeable.
Atra (known as the Contour in some markets) was introduced in 1977 and was the first razor to feature a pivoting head, which Gillette claimed made it easier for men to shave their necks. The Atra Plus featured a lubricating strip, dubbed Lubra-Soft.
Good News! was the first disposable, double-blade razor - released in 1976. The Good News! came in three forms: the "original", the "Good News! Plus", which included a lubricating strip, and the "Good News! Pivot Plus", which featured a lubricating strip as well as a pivoting head.
Gillette Sensor debuted in 1990, and was the first razor to have spring-loaded blades. Gillette claimed that the blades receded into the cartridge head, when they make contact with skin, helping to prevent cuts and allowing for a closer shave. The Sensor for Women was released around the same time and is nearly identical, but has a wider cartridge head.
In 1995, an improved version, the Sensor Excel was released. This featured "Microfins," a piece of rubber with slits at the top of the cartridge and Gillette claimed this helped to raise facial hairs, making for a closer shave. Another version, the Sensor 3, has three blades instead of two. All Sensor handles can use all Sensor cartridges.
However the Sensor handle is not durable and fails in ordinary use. This is due to wear of the moving, stress-bearing parts in the mechanism that attach the blade cartridge to the handle. Previous products, up to and including the Trac II, included "lasts a lifetime" durability in their attributes.
Mach3 The first three-blade razor, introduced in 1998, which Gillette claims reduces irritation and requires fewer strokes. It claimed five improved microfins, improved spring blades, and a pivoting head with greater flexability than previous Gillette products. It used a blue lubrication strip that faded as the razor was used to encourage users to change their blades more frequently. The Mach3 handle was also redesigned. Venus was designed for women and is a Mach 3 variant.
Mach3 Turbo had ten microfins (as opposed to five on the original), a new grip and claims improved lubrication and "anti-friction" blades. All Mach3 blades are interchangeable between the three products in the range, so it is possible to use the Mach3 Turbo blades on a Mach3 razor. The Mach3 Turbo Champion has a slightly different handle design. The Venus Divine is the Venus version of the Mach3 Turbo.
M3Power is a battery-powered version of the Mach3 Turbo razor which can also be used with the power switched off. The blades differ from Mach3 Turbo in having what Gillette says is a new blade coating which it describes as "PowerGlide". The lubrication and microfins are identical to Mach3Turbo. The Mach 3 Power Nitro has a slightly different handle design. The Venus Vibrance is the Venus variant of the M3Power. Venus blades are interchangeable across the line.
The Gillette Fusion is a five-bladed razor released in 2006. There are two different versions of the Fusion available: the Gillette Fusion, and the Gillette Fusion Power. All share the characteristic five blades on the front, and a single sixth blade on the rear that Gillette claims acts as a "precision trimmer". In addition, the Fusion Power is battery powered and emits "micropulses" that are claimed to increase razor glide. In February 2007, the Fusion Power Phantom (Stealth in UK) was released which featured a redesigned handle and a darker color scheme than the original Fusion Power. In February 2008, Gillette released another revision, the Fusion Power Phenom, with a new blue and silver color scheme. The Venus Embrace is the Venus variant for women and is also marketed towards cyclists.
The desire to release ever more expensive products, each claiming to be the best ever, has led Gillette to make disputed claims for its products. In 2005 an injunction was brought by rival Wilkinson Sword which was granted by the Connecticut District Court who determined that Gillette's claims were both "unsubstantiated and inaccurate" and that the product demonstrations in Gillette's advertising were "greatly exaggerated" and "literally false." While advertising in the United Stated now had to be rewritten, the court's ruling does not apply in other countries.
Procter & Gamble shaving products are currently under investigation by the Office of Fair Trading in an inquiry into alleged collusion between manufacturers and retailers in setting prices. An industry insider has revealed that the Fusion range of blades, which cost 5p ($0.08) each to manufacture, sell with a mark-up of more than 4,750 per cent.
Some of Gillette’s profit and sales may not have been due to the direct worth of the product, but due to it being presented to the public from a well-known company. In 1999 Gillette, as a company, was worth US$43 billion and it was estimated that the brand value of Gillette was worth US$16 billion. This equated to 37% of the company’s value, which was the same as DaimlerChrysler, one of the world's largest car manufacturers at the time.
Gillette has a long history of promotions for its products, especially towards young men. Current promotions include sponsorship of sports events such as the Rugby League Tri-nations and shipping their then-flagship product (currently the Fusion) to males in the United States around the time of their 18th birthday. Athletes such as Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Thierry Henry, Michael Clarke, Shoaib Malik and Rahul Dravid are sponsored by the company. Also, Gillette provides many promotional razors to campuses of universities.
Popular culture references
- Saturday Night Live featured a triple-blade razor in 1975, 23 years before the Mach3, with the slogan "The Triple-Trac. Because you'll believe anything." Not to be outdone, satirical newspaper The Onion printed a mock-commentary by Gillette's president after Wilkinson/Schick introduced their Quattro razor in 2004, three years before the Fusion was introduced, entitled "Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades".
- Mad TV also featured a parody poking fun at Gillette’s Mach 3 line of products. Mad TV called the product the "Spishak Mach 20."
- Gillette continues to hold the naming rights to Gillette Stadium, which is home to the NFL three-time champion New England Patriots and the MLS New England Revolution.
- "King C. Gillette, The Man and His Wonderful Shaving Device" by Russell Adams (1978), published by Little Brown & Co. of Boston MA, USA.
Notes and references
- Gillette Fusion Official Site
- Another Gillette Razor: Fusion Phantom Power
- "Gillette Unveils Newest Members of Its Gillette Young Guns Lineup" (Press release). Gillette. February 11, 2008. Retrieved February 15, 2008.
- "Gillette's Five-Blade Wonder". BusinessWeek, The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. Retrieved January 2, 2008.
- Truth in advertising
- Sharp practice? The razor heads that cost just 5p to make, but sell for £2.43 each Daily Mail June 08, 2009
- Pavitt, Jane. Brand New, Sept. 2000. ISBN 0-691-07061-X.
- "James M. Kilts" (2004-02-18). "Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades". The Onion.
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