Gillette TechMatic – Possibly the Worst Razor of All Time.
Watch the Gillette TechMatic Introductory Commercial
It is called the Gillette TechMatic razor. Simply put, it was an attempt by Gillette to lock down consumer loyalty by patenting a new shaving system. Sound like the Mach 3 and the Fusion 5 to you?
Back in the 1960s, Gillette introduced what I believe was called the “TechMatic.”
It was a “band razor” that used an extended strip of razor steel, rather than discreet blades. You “changed blades” by flipping a lever to advance the band from a small feed spool to a take-up spool.
The shaves were awful, I believe because it was impossible for the head assembly to hold the band perfectly flat. It bulged in spots, leading to scrapes and cuts (at least that was my experience as I can best recall).
One year, everybody I knew was using them was using them. A year or two later they were all gone.
While Gillette’s first TechMatic was a non adjustable razor. A subsequent model was in fact adjustable.
Schick Hops on Board!
Not to be outdone Schick hopped on board (always a bridesmaid…) with their own band razor called “The Instamatic.” Really!
An interesting little thing is how Schick really screwed Gillette on the TechMatic as you can see the advancement dial is on the cartridge with the Schick but on the Gillette its on the razor itself so you can use Schick cartridges on the Gillette but if you try to use a Gillette cartridge on a Schick you’ll have no way to advance the band.
The Gillette TechMatic seemed so modern at the time. A new wave of technology. It spurred an entire new genre of razors. Many band razors started appearing from previously obscure manufacturers, especially in France and in England.
By 1970 band razors had a third of the shaving market. It was a trend, but unfortunately most men came to hate the razor. The cartridge was disproportionately expensive. The razor didn’t shave well. When the Atra came out in 1979 Gillette could accomplish the same “your stuck with us, proprietary design” for far less production costs, and at a greater profit margin. So it makes sense that in 1980 Gillette discontinued what is perhaps the worst shaver of all times!
PS – with today’s technology, it wouldn’t be difficult to make the band razor concept actually work. Hmmmm, something for me to look into?
PPS – A little known fact. When the Apollo astronauts voyaged to the moon, they were equipped with a Gillette TechMatic for the journey. Before the TechMatic, astronauts on the Gemini and Mercury missions did not shave at all.
I Didn’t Know What Approach to This Post I Should Take…..
At first, I wanted to show the evolution of double edge razor blades using a historical approach. That seemed more than appropriate.
Then I got to thinking……. many wet shavers do not understand the basic differences between steel quality and blade coating technologies to be informed enough to select a blade that they have not tried just yet. So in this post we will look at some of the many of the technologies involved in finding your potentially perfect blade.
Where to Start?
First let’s see how basic double edge razor blades are manufactured.
In an attempt to shed (or more accurately, shave) society’s supposed toxic masculinity issue, Gillette released a powerful new ad urging men to be better by asking them: “Is this the best a man can get?” The reaction by many men (I would say the majority of men, at least the ones I have heard from,) is outrage. Did Gillette accomplished the opposite of what they set out to do since their campaign seems to have created more controversy than dialogue??
I will believe that controversy was the object of the campaign, and definitely not dialogue.
This is Difficult Subject for Me to Discuss. Keep reading. You’ll find out why.
It really took me quite a while to digest the ad in order to properly respond. The response was especially difficult and emotional for me, so forgive my tardiness in responding to the issue sooner.
I truly believe that Gillette intentionally tried to create controversy not dialogue. They wanted to sell more razors to women, but alienating men is not the answer to to accomplish that, is it?? Judging from the comments that I have heard that is exactly what they did.
Painting men with a broad brush is unfortunate and just plain wrong. Gillette obviously do not care much about offending the majority of their loyal male customers whose money built the company.
I want to make clear that I definitely support the #MeToo movement. The statistics speak for themselves.
Sexual Abuse Statistics in the United States
One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime
51.1% of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance
52.4% of male victims report being raped by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger.
Almost half (49.5%) of multiracial women and over 45% of American Indian/Alaska Native women were subjected to some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and nine percent are male.
In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.
Eight percent of rapes occur while the victim is at work.
** Source National Sexual Violence Resource Centre.
I want to share something very personal.
I was a rape victim when I was 12 years old by a “friend” of the family.
I well understand the subject matter and feel quite qualified to share my feelings about it. Actually the fact that I am a sexual assault victim is an extremely difficult admission to make, especially in a public forum.
Now it is 50 years after the fact, and although I have dealt with the assault, and I am not that 12-year old boy who got assaulted any longer, in some ways, I am still the victim of that brutality today. Let’s face it, although it was 50 years ago, I cannot run away from myself!
Rape is the perpetuation of violence. Simple as that. It is the one experience that you cannot outgrow. It never completely goes away. It destroys your self-image and obliterates your self-worth. In fact, there is really no repair. The trauma stays with you for an entire lifetime. That is why I have sympathy for the #MeToo movement, but no empathy for the Gillette advertising campaign.
I DO NOT SUPPORT GILLETTE’S RECENT AD CAMPAIGN, ALTHOUGH I HAVE EVERY REASON TO SUPPORT IT.
If Gillette wants to sincerely help the #MeToo movement, they should keep their opportunistic opinions to themselves, which as I see it, is simply a ploy to build more brand equity, create media attention, and sell more razors to women.
If the ad campaign did start a “discussion” it perhaps is not a productive one. We have enough derision and polarization in society these days as it is. Isn’t it time to “heal” society and not create more of a division between the sexes??
To me the real question is, was Gillette trying to take advantage of a missed opportunity and for their own advantage? What can their true motives be?
The shaving conversation online is 62 percent female, and 75 percent are under the age of 35. Men by and large are perhaps increasingly less important to the company as it tries to expand its market share. Gillette is increasingly facing a lot more competition, especially from shave clubs and other brands, than it used to in selling razors to men. Their profitability and popularity have decreased over the past five years. Also the fact that Schick and other companies are making Mach 3 cartridges and the fact that the Mach 3 patent has expired doesn’t help.
Now consider this…..
Women’s razors are more expensive than men’s razors. Furthermore society expects women to shave everywhere that men do not. Women are frustrated with the whole shaving experience. Engaging women positively in the shaving industry has been a neglected opportunity. I suspect this was Gillette’s real motive.
Gillette’s Motive Obscures The Fact – Most Men are Gentlemen.
I understand that being a gentleman should not get us men special kudos or any sort of special considerations. Women should not have to be grateful to us for behaving properly. As human beings, we should always strive for self-improvement and to observe social conventions. In fact, that goes for BOTH sexes.
So I ask a simple question. Is Gillette really expressing their core values?? Or, is Gillette’s viewpoint an advertising ploy to sell more razors to women? If so, their ad campaign is an exploitation of a situation and not a sincere desire to help to prevent it.
If Gillette wants to help the #MeToo movement, they should take the money spent on the ad campaign, and donate it to women’s shelters and crisis centers and do something constructive with it. There is enough division in America today. Gillette has taken full advantage of it. In fact perhaps Gillette has exploited a situation for their own advantage.
So Gillette, donate money to help women. Encourage women to report abuse with your advertising dollars. Use your advertising budget to support women and proactively help their plight.
In fact Gillette, if you are really sincere in supporting the #MeToo movement, why not set up an endowment to support that movement. Put your money where your mouth is and do some real good with it. But, for heaven sakes Gillette, do not put down the very population that has supported you all of these years! Men built your company. Respect that. Respect us. Don’t exploit us.
The dictionary defines “exploitation” as: “the action of making use of, and benefiting from a situation”. Isn’t that is exactly what Gillette did?
I believe that Gillette’s ad campaign had nothing to do with creating a dialogue. It had everything to do with creating controversy 100% for its own advantage! That my friends is both exploitation and manipulation as well.
So what do you think?? I would like to know. Leave your comments below.
Please note – you can Tweet to #UsToo, if you have any reaction to this post.
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