ITV 50 Years of Fame: Private view - Gillette

It is glaringly obvious to anyone but the most optimistic suit or naive brand manager that Gillette is never going to win any awards for its creative work.

In fact, I would say it has been unerringly consistent in its production of dubbed, tedious Euro babble. So thanks for giving a creatively vulnerable media chap this advertising equivalent of a bad dose of leprosy.

However, upon closer inspection of the reel, I now know that what it does deserve is utter respect.

Gillette's advertising is effective, well-constructed and communicates in a no-nonsense way all of the key brand and product benefits. And it always has.

It was steeped in Procter & Gamble language and discipline long before it was acquired by surely the smartest marketers in the world.

The line "Gillette. The best a man can get" is etched into the brains of all males that still walk on this planet, a phrase and riff as well-known as "hands that do dishes ..." for Fairy.

It has been mucked about with over the years, and left out of some ads entirely, but it is still there.

Take the commercial for the Mach 3 razor (4).

(By the way, it was Mach 2, then the Mach 3, then Wilkinson produced the four-blade version. Where will it all end? Bleeding on the floor with a combine harvester on our faces?)

Back to the ad. It features a jet fighter speeding through the air, losing its wings, then its cockpit as it slices through the air.

There is the square-jawed bloke. There is the science animation of how a hair needs three goes to level it and then there is the pay-off line: "Less strokes, less irritation."

Sadly, all the irritation is limited to the creative, but it works beautifully.

Over the years, the campaign has built some iconic elements beyond the line and the sonic logo.

House colours are blue and silver, and the references are engineering, "turbo", technology and machines. Cars, spacecraft and jet fighters all feature as part of the brand architecture.

The Beckham celebrity work was shot in black and white and, for some reason to me, is a perfect fit for Gillette (6). He looks well-shaven, (in his "cropped hair, cheeky smile" phase) and that goal-scoring moment is a spirit-lifter for the "the best a man can get". His being a dad also ticks the sub-agenda box for giving this macho product line some much- needed softer human values.

This was classy work and stood out from the brutally functional bulk of the work.

So Gillette has built an awesome brand using television for what it does best. To sell product by understanding its mass male market, and leveraging the strength of the power channels with consistently proven work.

The Venus razor for women was a spin, also using strong music to give it some female toe-tapping recognition (1). ("I'm your Venus, I'm your ... blah blah blah" from Bananarama, I think.) It used the line: "Reveal the goddess in you." That was a shame, I feel - "The best a man can get" would have been much more interesting

But then what do I know, I'm in media.

Clearly, the clients and agencies over the many years have known exactly what they were doing, because it has always had success and brand leadership written all over it.

1. GILLETTE RAZORS FOR WOMEN Title: Beach Agency: BBDO New York Year: 2001 2. GILLETTE - SENSOR LAUNCH Title: Best thing Agency: BBDO New York Year: 2003 3. GILLETTE RAZORS Title: No up or down Agency: BBDO New York Year: 2003 4. GILLETTE RAZORS Title: Breakthrough Agency: BBDO New York Year: 1998 5. GILLETTE RAZORS Title: Champion Agency: BBDO New York Year: 2004 6. GILLETTE RAZORS Title: The feeling of Gillette Agency: BBDO New York Year: 2004