Close Shaves

Ken AshfordRandom MusingsLeave a Comment

About thirty years ago, there was a very popular commercial for a double-track razor — a disposable razor with two blades. 

Demonstrated through a fake-y cartoon close-up of a man’s cheek, gullible consumers were informed that the double razor was better.  Why?  Because the first blade pushes the whisker forward, priming it for the death hack from the second razor following right behind.  The pseudoscience was so silly that Saturday Night Live, in their very first episode ever, had a mock commercial introducing a triple-track razor ("Because you’ll believe anything" was the tag line).

MadprescientrazorSure enough, it wasn’t long afterwards that a triple-track razor was in fact introduced.  Mad Magazine took the next satirical stab, with a mock ad for the Trac LXXVI Razor — a razor with 76 blades.

More recently, consumers were treated to the advent of a four-track razor — the Quattro from Schick.  This prompted The Onion, in February 2004, to post an open letter from the President of Gillette:

Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades

By James M. Kilts
CEO and President,
The Gillette Company
February 18, 2004

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That’s three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I’m telling you what happened—the bastards went to four blades. Now we’re standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we’re the chumps. Well, fuck it. We’re going to five blades.

Sure, we could go to four blades next, like the competition. That seems like the logical thing to do. After all, three worked out pretty well, and four is the next number after three. So let’s play it safe. Let’s make a thicker aloe strip and call it the Mach3SuperTurbo. Why innovate when we can follow? Oh, I know why: Because we’re a business, that’s why!

I’m sure you know where this is heading.

In yet another example of life imitating satire, Gillette has introduced . . . wait for it . . . the five-track razor!!  And, just as the Onion predicted, Gillette skipped over "four" and went straight to "five":

"There was never a plan to go to four," he said. said Peter Hoffman, president of Gillette’s blades and razors business, who said Fusion was in the development pipeline for several years.

How far behind can a six-blade razor be? 

MSNBC gives this story the weight it deserves.  You know it is important when they post an online poll which asks (I’m not making this up) "How Many Blades Do You Prefer"?  I was going to suggest that everyone reading this band together and click "Eleven", but sadly, that is not one the possible responses (it only goes up to "5 or more"). 

In fact, if the results now are any indication, it looks like most people are quite content with 3 or less razors, thank you very much.

Is this the end of the Razor Wars?  I doubt it.

[Hat tip: Boing Boing]