$120 mil in spending: Gillette, Schick, Bic launch blades

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Gillette Co., Pfizer's Schick and Societe Bic will spend a combined $120 million to support a series of new razors that will hit store shelves this spring.

The three rivals all plan to ship new women's and men's regular and disposable lines in March and April, with ad campaigns set to break beginning in June.

Schick, in the process of being acquired by Energizer Holdings, is moving forward with the launch of its newest innovation-an "all-in-one" three-bladed Intuition line for women that dispenses shave gel from the razor

"I think it could take some business from [Gillette's] Venus," said one retailer.

Spending was not disclosed, but retail executives said they expect support similar to the $20 million in media spending placed behind the Schick Xtreme III line for men when it launched last year. WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, New York, handles.

Gillette will answer with Pink Passion Venus, an extension of its women's system. That launch will be backed by TV ads from Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York.

For men, Gillette will introduce a Mach 3 Turbo G-Force extension, adding a spiffed up handle to last year's Mach 3 Turbo, which Gillette Chairman-CEO James Kilts called the most successful line extension in Gillette history. BBDO ads for G-Force break in the summer.

Gillette will also launch its first advertising in 15 years behind a new Sensor 3D disposable razor for men and women, to launch in the spring

Gillette spent $86 million on the refillable brands through the first 11 months of 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Societe Bic will launch its own three-bladed model, Bic Comfort 3 for men and women, in April. Spending wasn't disclosed, but Bic has had no media support in recent years.

The increased attention to disposables could pose a risk, especially for Gillette, said Andrew Shore, analyst with Deutsche Bank Securities. When Gillette last put major marketing support behind disposables in the 1980s, he noted, it began to erode share for the more profitable systems business.

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