Gillette returning to Super Bowl ads

By Greg Gatlin
Gillette Co.’s fierce marketing battle with rival Schick could play out in the biggest advertising arena of them all – the Super Bowl.

The Boston razor maker is returning to football’s premier event for the first time in a decade.

A spokesman said yesterday that Gillette isn’t prepared to announce any Super Bowl ad plans. But insiders at CBS, which will broadcast Super Bowl XXXVIII Feb. 1, confirm that Gillette is among the companies that have signed on.

CBS has sold a reported 80 percent of its Super Bowl ad time, which this year costs as much as $2.4 million for a 30-second commercial.

Gillette last advertised during the Super Bowl in 1994. Historically, it’s used the big game to launch products.

“While we haven’t announced plans regarding Super Bowl advertising, we have several marketing efforts in place to maximize awareness of Mach3 Turbo and Venus,” Eric Kraus, Gillette’s spokesman, said of the company’s top-selling men’s and women’s razors.

Energizer Holdings Inc.’s purchase of Schick-Wilkinson Sword earlier this year, and its launch of the four-blade Quattro razor in September, has forced Gillette to become even more aggressive in its marketing. James Kilts, Gillette’s chairman and chief executive, has said that he will do whatever it takes to defend Gillette’s dominance of the razor market.

Gillette has said competition from Schick could cut its earnings as much as 4 cents a share this year and 7 cents next year.

Through the first six months of this year, Gillette spent 8.3 percent of sales on advertising, compared with 7.9 percent in the corresponding period last year.

In recent months, Gillette and its ad agency, New York’s BBDO, have launched ads highlighting Mach3 Turbo’s 57 patents, and guaranteeing that it provides the world’s best shave. It’s also advertising the new Mach3 Turbo Champion.

Gillette sued Energizer this summer, claiming patent infringement. Schick countered with a false-advertising charge over Gillette’s “best a man can get” and “world’s best shave” slogans.

Both companies spend heavily on marketing.

Since 1994, Gillette has passed on Super Bowl ads, often in favor of sports that reach a more international audience, such as World Cup soccer. But since putting its name on Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium last year, it has refocused some marketing