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August 22, 2022

Advert for the Gillette Safety Razor, 1901

This visual text is an advertisement for Gillette brand safety razors. Disposable safety razors were introduced by Gillette in 1901, as a replacement for safety razors that required stropping and honing, a process of sharpening the razor that took considerable time.

Before the introduction of this product, straight razors and fixed-blade safety razors dominated the market, though required considerable time to be used properly and safety. Gillette is one of the largest and most successful razor companies in the world, having been established with the introduction of this safety razor in 1901. To attract men to the revolutionary product, Gillette employed ads like this to ensure a more convenient and effective razor. This particular advertisement is most likely directed at men, who require the actual shaving, and women, who most likely buy the shaving products for their partners.

The ad employs irony in its image dominated by a baby shaving. It creates an actual representation of the saying “soft as a baby,” creating the humorous image of a baby shaving to attain the soft skin it already has. Viewers draw a connection a natural connection to the razor held by the child: that the razor can make anyone's skin baby-soft. The depiction of the baby is also typical of vintage ads, featuring a plump, white child with rosie cheeks. The smile, bonnet, and bib complete the image of the "ideal" baby. While this has little to do with shaving, it certainly associates positivity with the razor.

The ad also makes bold claims of “no stropping,” and “no honing,” very time-consuming and difficult practices required for permanent razors. The word “safety” is also emphasized, sounding much more inviting than the popular straight razors, otherwise known as “cut-throat razors.” These claims are backed by the company name below, lending credibility to the organization in charge of the product. The ad is simple to understand, makes clear claims, and is humorous, all of which make for effective marketing.


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