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Gillette And The World’s Oddest Loyalty Promo? From The Cradle To The Shave

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When I first started writing this piece, I was convinced it would be one of the stranger stories you’d read today, and likely to have ever appeared in this newsletter. Mind you, just last week Nikki wrote about Rick and Morty causing a riot over McNugget sauce.

A few weeks ago, my 80-year-old mother (who lives about 30 minutes north of Boston), received an unsolicited package – addressed to her – from the Gillette company with two things inside. 1 – a Gillette razor, and 2 – a note that read “Happy 18th Birthday! ”

Let the confusion begin.

Why would someone send an octogenarian a razor? Why would they wish her a happy 18th? She didn’t give it much thought, and instead started asking around if anyone wanted it.

When she told my sister the story, it only got weirder. A few weeks before the razor arrived, my sister – who lives an hour away from my mom in the suburbs west of Boston, had a birthday in the house. Her oldest had turned 18 earlier that month. Was it for him? If so, why would be addressed to his grandmother and sent to her home? And if so, why was it delivered well after his birthday?

My nephew has never lived at that address. But after a lot of brainracking, my sister came up with a theory: my father passed away nearly 17 years ago. When he did, it was sudden, and my mom was beside herself. My sister, who had a newborn at the time, went and stayed with her for a couple of weeks. While she was there, she bought a crib for her newborn to stay in while they were away from their own home.

Did Gillette buy information from the store (no one can remember where, exactly) where the crib was purchased? If so, do they just add 17-18 years to the time it was purchased and send a razor to that address with a “Happy 18th Birthday! ” note, in hopes they’ll make a loyal customer for life? And this is where it gets weirder still.

Google “Gillette Sends Razor for 18th Birthday ” on Google and you’ll find that this was no one-time error. There’s thread after thread of entire conversations about bumbled attempts to get a razor to an 18-year-old male on his 18th birthday. Some are from 16-year-old males, some are from 50-year-old women. And it’s not like they are all recent – some of the threads date back to 2006.

So it turns out this isn’t an oddball story, after all. No, it seems this is a consciously-devised promotion that has been running nationwide, for at least 11 years, that seems to backfire as often (or perhaps more often?) than it works.

I’d love to see that stats on how often this works. If it does? Sure – razors are expensive and a low-expense gesture that gains a lifetime of blade purchases one out of every few times may well justify the cost of the missteps. But a little searching on Gillette’s own website brought up this frequently asked question and reply, essentially admitting that not only does the promo come and go over the years, but that the company has no idea what it is doing. If you have an experience with this program, please drop us a line. But based on my family’s experience, (and what a simple Google search reveals), I’d say it acts a real-world case study to support one of our most common pieces of advice…

Be creative and take risks! But it helps to know who you’re talking to before you start talking.


Newsletter Articles October 24, 2017
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