CAMPAIGNS: H&K introduces innovative razor - Product Launch

After 10 years of research and development, Gillette UK developed the first triple-blade razor, the MACH3.

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

innovative razor.

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

innovative moves.

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

Budget: Undisclosed

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