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Termination: Holy Schick… It’s a New Product!

Holy Schick… It’s a New Product!

By

30 July 2011

Text:/ Graeme Hague

They did it again. The editor and the editorial director buggered off on another overseas junket and left me behind. Mind you, last time I wrote something on conferences and seminars I got into trouble for sexist remarks about lap-dancing, so maybe it’s a good thing I stayed here. And to make doubly sure nobody is offended again, they’ve since assured me on their return there is absolutely no lap-dancing to be found in Orlando, Florida. None at all… no-siree-bob. Nothing. They spent many, many hours checking to make sure.

That’s where they went, Florida, to visit InfoComm, which is where all the latest and greatest gadgets and technical trickery are released to the industry – with much fanfare and pamphlets, of course. If you’ve got an important, new product to announce, then InfoComm is the place to do it. The whole world will be watching.

Which is why I want to write about disposable razors and toothbrushes. Yes, our editorial team would have been well equipped with such things [actually, I haven’t shaved since the age of 20 – Ed.], but that’s not what I’m talking about.

Instead, I want you to cast your minds back about… oh, 40 years? Picture a company boardroom filled with Disposable Razor Executives. These people are on the horns of a dilemma. They’ve recently enjoyed all the success of a revolutionary product – an all-in-one plastic razor that instead of requiring a fresh blade to be sharp again, you simply throw it all away and use another one. The whole lot, handle and all. The dilemma is – what do they do next? How can they top that? 

Finally, one of the executives put up a tentative hand and perhaps meekly suggested, ‘Why don’t we put in another blade?’

Another blade? A twin-bladed disposable razor! Sheer genius! Give that man a raise and two weeks in a condo on Bermuda with his secretary (okay, I watch Mad Men). The problem is solved and everyone can move on… for another 12 months, anyway. However then, the trouble is: what will they do next time? How do they beat that? Maybe the same guy will put up the same hand and say the same thing? Three blades! A triple-bladed disposable razor. Just the syntax of that sentence must have had the advertising departments drooling in anticipation. Awesome!

So, what are we up to now? Is it five blades? Six? The sales pitch of a revolutionary product being improved is getting a little old, but seriously – what can you with a product that worked just fine in the first place?

Now consider the humble toothbrush. Have you ever thought just how difficult and torturous it must be for toothbrush designers to come up with a new toothbrush – even though the previous model worked perfectly well? They’ve tried flexible heads, moulded handles, laser-shaped bristles… I thought the ‘tongue cleaner’ on the back a while ago was the most amazing piece of marketing, misinformation crap ever dreamed up. [Actually, it works – Ed.]

Every year at InfoComm you’ll find a lot of the same kind of thing. There’s a big difference between releasing something that is truly an innovative and exciting new product – and something that has all the same hype, but really they just added yet another blade. You have to feel sorry for the engineers and designers in this business. They’re put under the pump by senior executives who say the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is only going to wreck their sales projections and send everybody broke. Something new must be created. Not only that, but the marketing department then has to somehow convince everybody again that although they insisted  the previous models were unarguably the best-ever devised in the whole, entire history of the planet… they’ve come up with something better. It’s not fun. Here at AV we get a lot of news releases and in the interests of offering an objective point of view and that much-vaunted level playing field (I’ve played sports on some cow paddocks in my time, but they never sloped) we judiciously edit out references like ‘innovative’, ‘industry-leading’, ‘ground-breaking’, ‘unique’ and ‘exciting’ to name just a few. Which leaves us with pretty much “Dear Sir, please find attached…” and that’s about it. 

The good news for AV readers is that you don’t have to worry about any of the above. Instead, we’ve done all the hard work for you. We sent (almost) our best team across to Florida to scrutinise everything on offer at InfoComm, sort out the wheat from the chaff – the technological breakthroughs from the tongue-cleaners [actually, they work – Ed.] – and came back with only all the best information just for you.

Which undoubtedly makes AV ‘unique’…  the industry-leading, uncompromising, innovative, ground-breaking and exciting publication you’ve come to expect every issue.

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