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Catherine Colbert

$100,000 razor trumps Gillette’s “The Best a Man Can Get”

by Catherine Colbert | Dun & Bradstreet Editor

June 23, 2011 | 9 Comments »

In a smooth move that could send the Gillette-brand brass back to the drawing board to replace its “The Best a Man Can Get” ad campaign, a relatively obscure US company named Zafirro plans to manufacture 99 razors that will boast a decade-long blade life.

The $100,000 limited-edition iridium razor is the Koenigsegg to your Honda Accord, the Châteaubriand to your chipped beef on toast, and the Cullinan diamond to your cubic zirconia solitaire. Zafirro chose iridium because it’s strong, dense, and the most corrosion-resistant metal on Earth; the metal’s so scarce (it’s found in meteorites), it helps to justify the six-figure price. The grooming tool’s blade is made using artificially grown sapphire to make it sharp and hypoallergenic, to boot.

Funded by Portland-based investment incubator Bright Light Ventures, Zafirro spent more than three years in research and development, working through the production of hundreds of prototypes. Its initial goal was to make a razor blade that would last forever. The result, however, seems to be a sleek, luxurious eco-product. Some other companies getting Bright Light’s attention include Pinza (cord holder), Luminous (affordable contact lenses), GreenPrint (print management software), and ProgressiveRx (high quality drugs at low prices).

I’m hoping that Zafirro’s iridium razor helps — once and for all — to quell the one-upmanship blade wars I’ve witnessed since 2003 while covering consumer products companies Schick-Wilkinson Sword (owned by Energizer Holdings), Gillette (which Procter & Gamble acquired in 2005 for $57 billion), and others. The fight to achieve the closest, brag-worthy shave with the aid of four, five, or more blades even spurred quite a few spoofs.

Not only the initial goal cracks me up (was it intended to be bequeathed in wills?), but how much of the in-between space they had to concede:

CEO: Can we make one that lasts…um…forever?
CPO: Um, no.
CEO: Oh, all right, then, a billion years.
CPO: Um, no.
CEO: Million.
CPO: No.
CEO: Hang on, I thought we we’re supposed to have the best team in the business on this. How long *can* we make one last?
CPO: (beat) I think we can do five.
CEO: Five? Thousand?
CPO: Um, no. Just five.
CEO: Five? You are havin’ a laugh.
CPO: No.
CEO: Twenty, surely.
CPO: Well…we’ll shoot for ten.
CEO: All right, then, off you go.

Chris, that’s hilarious.

What’s baffling to me is if you did own a $100,000 razor, every day you would have to take it out of your secure lockable strongbox just to get rid of the five o’clock shadow.

I bet every time your beard got too shaggy, burglars would flock to your house by the dozen.

I’ve heard of parrots, which can live 80 years, being bequeathed. Why not a razor?

Adam, just leave the razor in your Lamborghini Aventador. It’s safe there in the glove box.

Honestly, that simple marketing choice (and miss) is comedy gold. You could get one or two SNL sketches out of it at LEAST. Imagine the fantastic feat of making one that lasted, like, even 60 or 70 years. You’d still have to buy another just to get you through your last few years. Well annoying.

Definitely more practical (if less endearing) than a parrot, Catherine, yes! Good point!

It’s interesting that even if they’d managed to make one that could last, say, a trillion years, it would still theoretically be just as big a miss from”forever” as the decade-long razor. You really cannot avoid disappointment on that one. That’s what you call shooting yourself in the foot — with the Death Star.

I should have chosen my words more careful. I didn’t mean to provoke an existential debate on the nature of infinity, but I’m kind of glad I did. Very funny commentary. Looks like you guys have a good time over there.

Our hope was to create a blade that lasted 100 years or more, which I think for the life of a consumer product is synonymous with forever for most people. While we are not there yet, I think there is a good chance we will ultimately get there. In the interim we felt 10+ years was a good start (free servicing and resharpening are included for first 10 years but they may last much longer than that depending on how their handled).

Thanks for the thoughtful piece.

Hayden, thanks for reading and appreciating what we do in our professional and comprehensive yet Hoover’s style. We love what we do. Stick with “forever” and go ahead and add “ne plus ultra” to the Zafirro Iridium razor’s marketing messages. Y’all are already shooting for the stars. (If I remember correctly, Google’s mission statement is pretty bold, as well: organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.) Good luck to you with Zafirro and with the other companies under Bright Light’s umbrella.

And a ruddy good sport about it you are, Hayden. Great to see you not only stop by, but also get the friendly spirit of the jokes. It’s a perfectly acceptable phrasing for marketing a product that was intended to last a century. I mean, the press you lot would get for coming up with the Infinite Razor, or Infinity Blade, or whatever wicked cool name you would have settled on. (Though, “Iridium” is also, as luck would have it, quite cool.) Just too tempting.

Just one parting word of advice, shoot for 150 years at least. As I alluded to earlier, you don’t need any of this lot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldest_people#Verified_oldest_living_men_.28over_110_years.29) giving you bad press when they start moaning about needing to buy another one. Then we all have to listen to them witter on about how no one makes anything that lasts anymore (God bless ’em).

Bugatti flogged a $200,000 watch connected to their magnificent Veyron that the Top Gear lads found a right stitch up. So, I’d say you guys are providing demonstrably more service for half the price. Good on ya.

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