Going back to the late 1960's Noxzema Shaving Cream embodied possibly one of the most popular and famous shaving commercial tag lines ever produced.
The "Take It Off" theme eventually evolved into Joe Namath getting "Creamed" by Farrah Faucett in the 1973 Superbowl commercial.
Then Noxzema Shave Cream attempted to continue it's success and progressed to "Balls o' Comfort" later in the 1970's.
This weekend during the Superbowl broadcast there will be two audiences...those who are interested in the sporting event and everyone else interested in the creative and expensive commercials the large Superbowl audience always attracts. How many traditional shaving commercials do you expect to see?
The Superbowl television commercials are an interesting study of American consumerism and a commentary on society in general. Forty years ago shaving was a central and key element in not only commercials but society in general. Forty years ago just about every man shaved. They had to because being clean shaven was an important status icon of acceptable male appearance. Someone wanting to climb the corporate ladder had to be clean shaven. A few men could get by with a mustache but beyond that it took a special man to successfully sport a beard and the unshaven "scruffy" beard look was absolutely unthinkable and decades away.
If you pay attention to commercials today you will more often than not see an unshaven man's face than a clean shaven one. I often wonder why? Why is the unshaven man acceptable today but in times past it was not. If my uncle were alive today he would look at the commercials and other television programs and boldly exclaim, "Why doesn't that guy go shave, he looks like a bum". He also said that to me regarding my mustache or my longer "over the collar" style haircut, and of course some really foul language was heard when hippies were displayed on his television screen. Yes, times change and whole books are written to explain the reasons why. But I think the large corporate controlled media want to present being "unshaven" as acceptable.
Recently the media feeds have run an interesting article talking about the decline of Proctor & Gamble profits and the reason was all the men not shaving due to "Movember". Of course they confused "No Shave November" with "Movember" which only involved growing a mustache, but how could the quarterly profits of such an enormous company the size of Proctor & Gamble, the parent company of Gillette be impacted by a few men growing a mustache or not shaving for a month?
The simple answer is there is no way for such events to cause a significant dip in profits unless there were other factors also contributing to the decline. The unshaven look makes not shaving fashionable and the hipster media hype covers up the real truth behind it all.
Gillette and Proctor & Gamble realize how uncomfortable the situation they are facing worldwide. They don't like admitting they are in an uncomfortable position and the best way to deal with it is to deny it exists. For years they have been attempting to kill traditional wet shaving, especially in the developing markets where traditional DE razors are still in common use. They have not been successful and in the more advanced media heavy markets they continue to lose ground too. The cracks in the wall are no longer tiny and almost invisible. The Micro Touch One Razor's emergence into the marketplace is proof that ignoring the simplicity and utility of a DE razor was not a wise marketing decision. Slowly and surely, even if on a small scale, the message of traditional wet shaving is reaching a larger wider audience. Ignoring and deflecting the reality of the strength and endurance of traditional wet shaving is the ultimate folly on the part of P&G/Gillette. The smart thing would be to embrace the heritage of the Gillette Razor Company and re-introduce reproductions of some of the old razors, market them and expand production of DE blades and products. But modern large corporations aren't smart. They are only greedy and short sighted.
I do not believe that P&G - Gillette will wake up one day and embrace traditional wet shaving again as they did only a short forty years ago. They are too arrogant to do such a thing. I fully expect another, smaller, wiser company to possibly step in and bring traditional wet shaving to a prime time marketplace presence again. Even though I believe we are several years away from something like that to happen, but I think it eventually will happen.
If the current mindset of the general public continues as it has been in recent years, hearkening back to the things we as a society have lost and finding ways to recapture them, it won't be long before traditional wet shaving becomes very big once again. The common man is already there. It will take a little longer for some small and medium sized companies to make the move and bring back local manufacturing, job creation, pride in craftsmanship and the desire to discover and then meet the needs of the consumer once again. I fear a much larger economic collapse will precede such a move, but only then will we be able to pick up the pieces and move forward as a society. Large corporations are blind to the realities and believe their power and financial clout will be enough. It will not be adequate in the long run because they must still have the consumer constantly consuming, and the consumers will turn to the innovative and small suppliers, the artisans and small razor producers that produce and create local jobs instead of eating the carrion of the corporate behemoths offer.
The traditional wet shaving society is in a good place as long was we don't lose sight of what is happening in the larger picture. We must be supportive of our small business men and women and understand the growing pains that simply meeting increased demand inflicts upon them. We must find and nourish and raise up the good local "Mom and Pop" businesses that can be found in our communities. Most small cottage makers of razors, soaps, creams and aftershaves can easily handle lower steady demand but success breeds the real risk of ultimate failure if they cannot simultaneously control the demand and maintain quality. We, the consumers, sometimes become impatient with what we perceive as poor customer service when a small supplier has difficulty turning out the product fast enough or they do not respond as quickly as they used to when we contact them. We have made them victims of their own success and criticize them when our pushing results in them stumbling. We must have patience and understanding.
I have seen this dynamic played out in both small time manufacturers and small scale service providers. If they say, "hey, we can't produce things quick enough...hold off for a bit" then we stop making orders, as requested, and then when the green light is turned back on by the producer once they are caught up again, we withhold our business. We are upset for being told to calm down and wait a bit. We see it as a major flaw in them as a business and lose faith. Instead, we need to understand their issues of being too small to keep pace without dropping quality and that the next step to get big enough to meet a greater demand is not only too expensive but too risky when bottom line quality is at stake, and not even considering the usual need to juggle a home-life, full-time job, and part-time business.
Large corporations have spoiled us with cheap and plentiful products and we have bought the song and dance that less quality, poor customer service and lower prices are what we really want in the first place. Instead, we want good products at fair prices, good service and reasonably timely response times. Sadly, to do that we must, in the current marketplace, spread the love around and buy products from a number of producers and be cognizant of the growth demands that creating a good product entails, when the demands are growing as they are in traditional wet shaving circles these days.
We would love for there to be shelves overflowing with the products we want and need, but that isn't going to happen anytime soon I'm afraid. Someday, possibly but it will take years for the "big boys" to wake up to the reality that traditional wet shaving is here to stay and they will never successfully kill it. So we wait and we endure. We show patience, understanding and forgiveness to the wonderful small shop producers of traditional wet shaving products and tools. Maybe someday the small home based producers will be able to grow into a larger operation and even move from a part-time status to a full time employment situation. But it takes time and sadly resources most do not have and never will have.
Traditional wet shaving is no longer front and center the way things were forty years ago and shaving products were front and center in the Superbowl commercial line up. But it is time we "Take It Off...Take It All Off" and I mean the blinders, so we can see our unique marketplace for what it is and will be for the foreseeable future....small, challenged, struggling, and very very good at what they do, as long was we don't push them too fast into something neither we or they want to be...like the Proctor & Gambles of the world.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe