Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp …
And listen mister!
How are you fixed for blades? (do you have many?)
How are you fixed for blades? (you’d better check!)
Please make sure you have enough –
‘cos a worn-out blade makes shaving mighty tough!
How are you fixed for blades? (you’d better look!)
Gillette Blue blades are neat!
Meet Sharpie! This raucous cartoon parrot was popular for nearly two decades as Gillette spokesbird on The Friday Night Fights. He first took to the “air” for Gillette in 1952 World Series television broadcasts (Dodgers vs. Yankees).
Over the next twenty-some years, this colorful bird became one of the most effective commercial characters of all time, squawking his way through thousands of commercial spots on the immensely popular Gillette Cavalcade of Sports broadcasts.
Sharpie’s introduction to a nation of sports fans was concurrent with the first use of one of the most memorable and effective commercial jingles of all time – The Look Sharp March, composed by Mahlon Merrick, musical director of The Jack Benny Show. Merrick also composed Sharpie’s vocal debut – “How’re Ya Fixed for Blades?”
Armed with a new tune and a fresh mission from Gillette, Sharpie seeded his question in the minds of American men at their shaving mirrors. His musical query practically demanded they check their supply and then stock up on popular Gillette brand blades.
Riding on the wave of America’s love affair with sports, Sharpie became as well known as any sports hero and also took his place alongside a certain big-eared mouse in red shorts as one of the most recognizable cartoon characters on the landscape of popular culture.
©1999 The Gillette Company
In the history of television advertising Sharpie holds no equal.
Since he got his start as a fight promoter, he was not always the cute band conductor… sometimes he was rough.
Snazzy Fellow, ain’t he?
This was from a Salesman’s notebook, not a commercial advertisement.
But Sharpie was not the ONLY animated spokesman, in 1960 the Company contracted with Warner Brothers Commercial to create a ‘clock’ to tell folks to wake up and use Gillette’s new deodorant. The first aerosol– therefore the first deodorant for men that was not yucky. His name was Ricky-Tick. He was not used for long, but he was created by Chuck Jones and therefore cool.
I am going to write about sports marketing. But first I wanted to show my favorite Gillette picture. That’s me with number 83 of the New England Patriots, Wes Welker. He is a great sport in so many ways. At this event he showed it by posing with everyone, and I mean dozens of people for the Patriot/ Gillette United Way of New England kick-off event in 2007.
These two ads were a risk. In 1910, Americans did not believe that baseball players were role models. In fact, professional athletes were only one step up from being a bum who rode the rails. Not only this these ads work, but they set up a new marketing strategy that has endured for Gillette and many other companies.
In 1964 Sporting News published a Silver Anniversary of Gillette’s Cavalcade of Sports issue. It featured pictures of all sorts of sports, here is one of the pages.
These comics are part of a tradition that started during the War to keep people focused on the Gillette blade when they could only get the Thin Blade do to shortages. After the war the comic went to the Blue Blade which was a higher end and more expensive product.
These Sunday Cavalcade of Sports comics ran until the early 1960s in every Sunday. I have included only a few here, but there are many.
The big truck left Fenway Park yesterday, bringing all the equipment to Florida for Spring Training. Around here, with the sky so gray and the grass still brown, that is the first harbinger of spring. It is a good one.
The 1930s saw the beginning of Gillette on the Radio and that continued for a long time. In the 1950’s Gillette figured out that TV was the way to go and signed for exclusive rights. They were right. The 1950’s also brought along the spokesbird Sharpie who officiated on the radio and television for The Cavalcade of Sports Friday Night Fights and asked “How’re you fixed for blades?” More on Sharpie later. He’s gonna get his own page.
Jim Rice now a Hall of Famer, did ads for Gillette in 1979 for the World Series Broadcasts.
Don’t forget football. It started way before professional, there was high school and college; rivalries and bowl games.
So here is a short history of the longest Sports Marketing story in advertising. They’re still at it under P&G and mostly, even with the twists and turns, do a fine job. They also taught P&G about sports… anyone hear of the Olay World on Ice before the merger?
Since Gillette was an Old Boston company… it had to love Christmas unabashedly.
Gillette existed as an independent company from 1901 until 2001 when it was merged/submerged into P&G. I had a chance to archive this amazing company from the summer of 2006 to late spring 2008. I have, in my head, and because of my interests, a file cabinet, full of ads and stories about Gillette; wars, expansion, globalization and The Company’s relationship to Boston and specifically South Boston.
In this blog I will write about things related to Gillette, the people and the companyfrom 1895 – 1901 and 1901 to 2001. I will not comment publically about Procter and Gamble or anything they have to do with what is now their “Grooming division.” I still use Gillette razors and products, especially those still made in Boston, Massachusetts.
I welcome comments from any employee or former employee of Boston, Andover and Needham and will include others’ stories with my own.