52 Facts About Gillette


The Gillette Company was founded by King C Gillette in 1901 as a safety razor manufacturer.

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Painter encouraged Gillette to come up with something that, like the Crown cork, could be thrown away once used.

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Gillette had trouble finding anyone capable of developing a method to manufacture blades from thin sheet steel, but finally found William Emery Nickerson, an MIT graduate with a degree in chemistry.

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Gillette had issues getting funding until Gillette's old friend John Joyce invested the necessary amount for the company to begin manufacturing.

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Gillette was renamed to the Gillette Safety Razor Company in 1904 and it quickly began to expand outside the United States.

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In 1905 the company opened a sales office in London and a blade manufacturing plant in Paris, and by 1906 Gillette had a blade plant in Canada, a sales operation in Mexico, and a European distribution network that sold in many nations, including Russia.

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Gillette marketed their razor by designing a military-only case decorated with US Army and Navy insignia and in 1917 the company sold 1.

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Gillette expanded its overseas operations right after the war by opening a manufacturing plant in Slough, near London, to build New Improved razors, and setting up dozens of offices and subsidiaries in Europe and other parts of the world.

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Gillette experienced a setback at the end of the 1920s as its competitor AutoStrop sued for patent infringement.

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However, before the deal went through, it was revealed in an audit that Gillette had been overstating its sales and profits by $12 million over a five-year period and giving bonuses to its executives based on these numbers.

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Gillette had fallen behind its competitors in blade manufacturing technology in the 1920s and had let quality control slip while over-stretching its production equipment in order to hurry a new Kroman razor and blade to market in 1930.

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In 1932, Gillette apologized for the reduction in blade quality, withdrew the Kroman blade, and introduced the Blue Blade as its replacement.

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In 1938 Gillette introduced the Thin Blade, which was cheaper and about half the weight of the Blue Blade, even though it cost almost as much to manufacture.

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Gillette assisted the US Army in military intelligence by producing copies of German razor blades for secret agents venturing behind German lines so that their identities wouldn't be compromised by their shaving equipment.

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Gillette manufactured razors that concealed money and escape maps in their handles, and magnetic double-edge blades that prisoners of war could use as a compass.

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Gillette opened a new plant in Switzerland and began manufacturing blades in Mexico City.

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In 1947 Gillette introduced the Gillette Super Speed razor and along with it the Speed-pak blade dispenser the company had developed during the war.

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In 1948 Gillette bought the home permanent kit manufacturer The Toni Company and later expanded into other feminine products such as shampoos and hair sprays.

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Gillette bought the disposable hospital supplies manufacturer Sterilon Corporation in 1962.

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Gillette began TV advertising in 1944 and in 1950 it spent $6 million to acquire exclusive sponsorship rights to the World Series for six years.

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Gillette advertised the Toni product line by sponsoring the TV show Arthur Godfrey and His Friends and the 1958 Miss America contest and its winner.

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Outside the US and European markets, Gillette spent time and money building manufacturing facilities and distribution networks in anticipation that the markets would eventually be opened up and nationalistic restrictions lifted.

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In 1960, Gillette introduced the Super Blue blade, the company's first coated blade, and the first significantly improved razor blade since the Blue Blade of the 1930s.

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However, during the development of the silicon coating for the Super Blue blade, Gillette had discovered the method of producing coated stainless steel blades that Wilkinson Sword was using and managed to patent it before Wilkinson did.

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Gillette hesitated in bringing its own stainless steel blades to market as Super Blue had been a huge success and replacing it with a longer-lasting blade would have reduced profits.

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Gillette eventually brought the Gillette Stainless blade to the market in August 1963, about a year after Wilkinson's stainless blades.

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Gillette introduced the Techmatic, a new type of razor that used a continuous spool of stainless blade housed in a plastic cartridge.

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Gillette hurried to develop their own disposable before Bic could bring their razor to the United States.

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Gillette designed a single-blade razor similar to Bic's but soon abandoned the concept in favor of a razor that was essentially a Trac II cartridge molded into a blue plastic handle.

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Gillette introduced this disposable as the Good News in 1976, about a year before Bic's razor reached the United States, and managed to establish market leadership once Bic and other competitors came to market.

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Gillette quickly brought its razor to markets Bic hadn't yet reached, such as Latin America where the razor was known as Prestobarba.

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Gillette had at first hoped that disposables would take no more than 10 percent of the total razor and blades market, but by 1980, disposables accounted for more than 27 percent of the world shaving market in terms of unit sales, and 22 percent of total revenue.

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In 1984, Gillette agreed to acquire Oral-B Laboratories from dental care company Cooper Laboratories for $188.

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Gillette bought back Revlon's stake in the company for $558 million.

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Gillette repurchased approximately 16 million shares for $720 million and Coniston agreed not to purchase many Gillette shares, participate in proxy contests, or otherwise seek control of the company for three years.

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In 1990, Gillette attempted to purchase Wilkinson Sword's US and non-European operations.

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The Department of Justice prevented the sale of Wilkinson's US assets to prevent a significant reduction in competition by eliminating one of the top four blade suppliers when Gillette already controlled approximately half of the nation's razor market.

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Gillette launched the Series line of men's grooming products, including scented shaving gels, deodorants, and skin-care items, in 1992.

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In 1996, Gillette launched several new products for women and teenage boys, including the SensorExcel for Women, a moisturizer, a shaving gel, and a body spray.

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Gillette promoted the product, which took five years to develop and was protected by 35 patents, with a $300 million marketing campaign.

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In 2000, Gillette's board fired CEO Michael Hawley; he was replaced by former Nabisco CEO James M Kilts in early 2001.

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Gillette's efforts were unsuccessful, but the company maintained approximately two-thirds of the global wet-razor market as of mid-2005.

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In 2020, Gillette announced a commitment to reduce the use of virgin plastics by 50 percent by 2030 and maintain zero waste to landfill status across all plants.

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Gillette maintained a limited range of models of this new type razor until 1921 when the original Gillette patent expired.

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Gillette continued to sell the original razor but instead of pricing it at $5, it was priced at $1, making a Gillette razor truly affordable to every man regardless of economic class.

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Gillette was fined by Autorite de la concurrence in France in 2016 for price fixing on personal hygiene products.

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In January 2019, Gillette began a new marketing campaign, "The Best Men Can Be", to mark the 30th anniversary of the "Best a Man Can Get" slogan.

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Gillette first introduced its long-time slogan, "The Best a Man Can Get", during a commercial first aired during Super Bowl XXIII in 1989.

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In November 2009, Gillette became the subject of a proposed boycott in Ireland due to its endorsement by French soccer player Thierry Henry; his undetected handball foul during a FIFA World Cup qualifying match contributed to a game-winning goal by France, eliminating Ireland from contention.

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The following month, expanding upon the controversy, media outlets observed a "curse" associated with top athletes who endorse Gillette, citing Tiger Woods, and Roger Federer losing in an upset to Nikolay Davydenko during the 2009 ATP World Tour Finals.

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Since its opening in 2002, Gillette has held naming rights to Gillette Stadium in nearby Foxborough, home of the New England Patriots of the National Football League.

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In late 1988, Gillette announced plans to eliminate manufacturing operations in Montreal and Toronto.

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