Sunday, March 6, 2011

Clueless in Cincinnati

The Gillette Company rode to world prominence thanks to two factors. One was its embrace of the new-fangled safety razor early in the 20th century, which led to its quick near dominance of men's shaving gear. The other was its access to educated and hardworking workers in Boston, its headquarters beginning with its early days on a fish pier. The company's identification with the city was so complete that in 2002, it stepped in to purchase the naming rights for the New England Patriots' stadium after the original purchaser (the place was called CMGI Field) got kerplunked by the bust.

In 2005, Gillette was merged into/bought by Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble. As a separate company, Gillette ceased to exist, though its name was retained as a brand name. Proctor & Gamble soon began toying with the workforce. Its unions accused it of setting up two suburban facilities with permanent "temporary" workers in order to dodge union wage and working condition agreements. The South Boston factory -- virtually a landmark in Greater Boston -- is still operating, but Massachusetts jobs have been shipped to Poland and Mexico.

To add insult to injury (literally -- no, really, literally) Proctor & Gamble began an advertising campaign in 2009 featuring, of all people, Derek f---ing Jeter. Now, on certain days of the year, when the NY Yankees visit Fenway Park to play the sainted Red Sox, there are as many signs in Boston with Jeter's name on them as there with Gillette's. But whereas Gillette's name appears on billboards, Jeter's turns up on the hand-held variety invariably followed by the word "sucks."

Having Jeter as a tout is bad enough. But, in a twist unrivaled since Brutus and Caesar, Gillette made a TV commercial in which Jeter is booed by boorish "Red Sox fans" (no doubt actors recruited from the NYC area). Either the Gillette girly products Jeter is shown using, or the same impulse that drives Jeter to tie up the bathroom with his toilette, supposedly enable him to retain his dignity in the face of such an uncouth verbal onslaught. (Yeah, dignity, like what he showed in his last contract negotiation. No money-grubbing there.)

Gillette doesn't deserve to have its name associated with Boston sports. Maybe instead it should look into associating itself with the teams of Southern Ohio. After all, corporate culture dictates that home is where the bank is.

No comments:

Post a Comment