GilletteCo History

The history of the Gillette Company in Boston; its products and people.

Sharpie the Parrot Gillette ‘Spokesbird’

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Here is Sharpie conducting the Look Sharp ad.

Sharpie’s Song

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

The Look Sharp March became the most played march at high- school and college football game halftime shows in America, throughout the 1950s and 1960s.  

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.

Sharpie from 1958

Snazzy Fellow, ain’t he?

Sharpie as an old Time Southern Gentleman for the 'TV Razor' and Blue Blades, 1958.

This was from a Salesman’s notebook, not a commercial advertisement.

Sometimes he played ball:

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.

Letter from WB to Gillette advertising dept.

Ricky Tick for Right Guard

The Sun says it is time to get going.

'Ricky-tick' 'an that's all folks


Written by gillettecohistory

March 8, 2010 at 12:02 am

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Sports Marketing: The Beginning

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New England Patriots Wide Receiver Wes Welker and the Archivist (that's me) at United Way event 49th floor of the Prudential Tower; Sept 2007

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.

July 1910 Newspaper and Magazine Ad. First Sports advertisement ever.

July 1910. One of a series of magazine ads featuring American men as clean and ready for anything, but too busy to go to the barber shop for a shave.

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.

Kennesaw Mountain Landis signing an agreement forGillette's exclusive radio rights in the 1939 World Series.

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.

Sporting News, 1964 Pictures of Gillette sponsored events.

After World War II Gillette started using the Sunday comics. This is Johnny Mize in 1949.

Dom DiMaggio. The Professor in the 1950s for the Boston Red Sox.

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.

Frank Malzone also of the Boston Red Sox. I have my loyalties.

1951: Gillette and Major League Baseball sign $6,000,000 Contract

World Series Record Book. Published by Gillette throughout the 1950s.

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.

1950 World Series Broadcasts

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.

1940 3 Great Football Classics on New Year's Day

Bowl Game Broadcast Schedule 1950

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?

Press Release from Gillette and Major League Baseball. Also mentioned is Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA

Naming rights to Gillette Stadium confirmed in 2002. Also NASCAR, NHL, MLS, I hate to leave out the others but the list goes on!

Written by gillettecohistory

February 13, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Some Gillette Christmas stuff

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Since Gillette was an Old Boston company… it had to love Christmas unabashedly.

Merry Christmas.

In 1910 The Gillette Razor Company ran its first group ads. I will publish others in subsequent blogs, but here it a Christmas one.

The Company made it first real money supplying shaving kits to the soldiers and in World War I. This picture ran in "The Blade" the company newsletter in December 1918, one month after the end of the war.

This is my favorite Christmas picture of Z-Building in South Boston.

This is my favorite Christmas picture of Z-Building in South Boston.

Written by gillettecohistory

December 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm

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Introduction and Disclaimer

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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.

Written by gillettecohistory

December 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Business History