The quest for a better way to remove facial hair or to shave has taken many twists and turns over the centuries. The years between 1800 and 1900 have been coined the “Golden Era” of the straight edge razor. Men went to barbers to have their mustaches and beards carefully trimmed. Interchangeable blade-razor sets and “seven-day” sets were popular in the 1800s.
But it wasn’t until 1901 that King C. Gillette fundamentally transformed shaving with the invention of the first safety razor, which was granted a patent on November 15th, 1904. With the advent of the safety razor, a man did not need to send his straight edge razor to the barber for sharpening. The idea of clamping a smaller version of a straight edge onto a handle was genius – the blade was easier to control, which resulted in fewer nicks and cuts, and was replaceable when it became dull.
In the past century, Gillette has been amongst the leaders in shaving innovations, delivering cutting edge science and technology to consumers. When King C. Gillette introduced his revolutionary safety razor, he founded a company on the time-honored credo, “There is a better way to shave and we will find it.”
Gillette remains true to this spirit even more than a century later and continues to deliver on that promise with ground-breaking razors featuring innovative blade technologies from the Gillette Trac II to Sensor, MACH3 and, of course, Fusion and Fusion ProGlide.
Today, Gillette has two dedicated R&D centers – in Boston, USA and Reading, UK – where most of its product R&D takes place. The two R&D centers are amongst 14 such P&G facilities where Gillette products are developed.
Its South Boston Manufacturing Center, known also as the Gillette World Shaving Headquarters, has been the technical center for developing and manufacturing the newest wet shaving technology platforms, using state of the art proprietary technology since 1903. The Reading Innovation Center in the UK has been a world class innovation powerhouse that creates ground-breaking experiences that have delighted consumers since 1959.
Unique and diverse professionals drive with passion and creativity, a culture of learning and technical excellence at Reading and Boston to lead scientific breakthroughs.
Gillette and the World of Sports
Gillette has a rich sports heritage that provides natural synergies with our reputation as a performance brand. Sports marketing plays an important role for the Gillette brand, helping us to tap into a key passion for men and strengthening our connection with consumers.
Through the years, Gillette has had partnerships with many sportsmen, including world-class athletes. Gillette’s enduring association with sports goes as far back as the early 1900s. Gillette had the vision to see the value in connecting the brand with top-tier sports and athletes. In 1910, Gillette produced a print ad with images of baseball greats such as Pittsburgh Pirates’ infielder, Honus Wagner, in ads for the original Gillette Safety Razor.
Joseph Spang Jr, who became president of Gillette in 1938, used all-out sports promotion, beginning with the 1939 baseball World Series. From baseball, Gillette quickly moved on to football, and snapped up the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl, and later the Cotton Bowl, and the biggest collegiate spectacle of all, the Rose Bowl. However, boxing probably gave Gillette the most payback for its advertising dollar because it delivered to an overwhelmingly male audience suited to Gillette’s overwhelmingly male product line.
It led in 1942 to the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, Gillette’s signature title for all its exclusively sponsored sports events. Cavalcade of Sports presented nearly all the big national sports events and was America’s premier vehicle for radio and television sports broadcasting for about 25 years.
The 1952 World Series would bring another memorable first – the introduction of what was one of the most effective television jingles of all time, “To Look Sharp, ev’ry time you shave/To feel sharp, and be on the ball/To be sharp…”
For that same World Series telecast, Gillette introduced another ditty that was in the same league as “Look Sharp” for its longevity and latter-day nostalgic recall. This was the: “How’re Ya Fixed for Blades” of startled men in their undershirts caught in mid-shave, their faces lathered up and razors poised.
Sharpie the parrot became one of America’s most recognized cartoon characters of the 1950s, and for a while, was almost as well known as Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse.
Over the years, Gillette has continued its efforts to increase involvement with top-level sports beyond signature events by partnering with strong properties such as Major League Baseball, NCAA Basketball, NCAA Football, NASCAR, PGA Tour, Champions Tour, LPGA Tour and the National Hockey League.
Beginning in the 1970s, Gillette sponsored international events such as the FIFA World Cup, rugby, the Gillette Cup in Cricket and Formula One racing.
In 2004, Gillette began a partnership with football star, David Beckham, which represented a major enhancement to Gillette’s sports marketing. Beckham was soon featured in the company’s worldwide consumer advertising and promotional campaigns and the platform clearly transcended sports.
Three years later in February 2007, Gillette launched the Gillette Champions program that highlighted the athletic and personal accomplishments of three of the world’s greatest athletes – Roger Federer, Thierry Henry, Tiger Woods – as they personified the essence of Gillette’s brand and were known for their top performance, truly representing the best in their respective sports. The Gillette Champions program was the largest sports-marketing initiative for the brand and was rolled out to more than 150 markets through various marking initiatives.
Today, Gillette remains a strong supporter of the world of sports.