After 10 years of research and development, Gillette UK developed
the first triple-blade razor, the MACH3.
The razor is aimed at 18- to 34-year-old men and offers a closer shave
with fewer strokes in comparison to traditional wet shavers. The launch
of the MACH3 was Gillette’s largest ever product launch. Hill and
Knowlton was appointed to launch the razor to trade and business
audiences from April, culminating with the consumer launch in October
To launch the MACH3 to the UK media, making it aware of the performance
and technology of the product. To reach the targeted 18- to 34-year-old
male age group with a product that would ’re-invent’ shaving.
Hill and Knowlton wanted to do more than launch a new razor - it wanted
to make the new product a ’must-have’. To achieve this, it targeted both
consumer and business press. Top London barber Ian Matthews of Matthews
School of Shaving was brought in to endorse the product, with several
journalists being invited to his salon for an expert shave using the
In April, the PR team organised a press trip for five journalists to the
global launch in the US. Trade, technology and business journalists were
also targeted to sustain UK coverage.By June, the consumer press had
received press packs and samples in the hope of generating ’tried and
tested’ articles in leading men’s magazines.
With media interest aroused, Hill and Knowlton needed to sustain levels
of coverage of the MACH3 until the actual product launch in October. To
do this, Gillette sponsored a British land speed record attempt on a
The motorbike, the MACH3 Challenger, was designed to echo the ’three’
theme of the razor - MACH 3 is three times the speed of sound, the bike
attempted three different speed records, and the razor has three
The trials by the Challenger bike began in May and Gillette’s
sponsorship deal was exploited until the attempt in October.
The land speed record attempt was timed to hit the media the day before
the advertising campaign began, in order to maximise coverage in the
Nicknamed ’the Porsche of the shaving world’, the MACH3 became the
fastest selling razor within a week of its release.
A total of 304 printed articles and features and 144 broadcast pieces
covered the launch of the MACH3 razor and the MACH3 Challenger
This included editorial in the Times, the Sunday Times Style section and
the Independent on Sunday.The story was also picked up by the leading
men’s magazines, including GQ, FHM, Men’s Health, Maxim, and Esquire,
which gave glowing reviews of the design and effectiveness of this
According to Hill and Knowlton’s media analysis, an estimated 245.9
million media hits were recorded. Brand awareness among the target male
audience reached 31 per cent according to a Millward Brown tracking
For a product whose basic design has been around for most of the
century, the launch was phenomenally successful.
While it doesn’t take a genius to pick the essential target media for
the launch of a new razor, the use of Ian Matthews to endorse the
product and the focus on the grooming side of the story were both
The aim of creating a must-have attitude towards the product was met a
long time before it landed on the shelves of any high-street shop,
ensuring it became an instant bestseller.
Client: Gillette UK
PR team: Hill and Knowlton
Campaign: UK launch of Gillette MACH3 razor
Timescale: April to October 1998