What goes on behind the closed doors at shaving emporium Gillette? We caught up with their US communications manager, Susan Baba, to learn what it takes to build the iconic brand. From shaving tricks to honeymoon tips, learn why celebrity fans André “3000” Benjamin, Ray Rice and Brian Westbrook stock up on these shaving essentials.
EBONY: What is it like to be a woman working for a company catered to men?
Susan Baba: P&G is known for its strong focus on women and mothers, but most people don’t know that we put the same effort towards understanding and delighting our male consumers. My previous role was on the Olay brand, and it’s interesting to come from a category where your consumer is slightly obsessed with shave care to a category where men kind of consider shaving a chore. It makes it really important to do work that’s going to catch a guy’s attention, without being too much of a salesman. Every day is an exercise in creativity and disruptive marketing.
EBONY: How would you describe your role at Gillette?
SB: As the communications manager for our male shave care businesses, I get to work on both Braun and Gillette. Our work is highly collaborative, so I meet regularly with our agency partners and internal marketing team. I also spend a lot of time connecting with people outside of the company and helping them understand what makes Gillette different and superior. I was fortunate enough to get an internship after high school and they asked me back every summer. When I graduated college, I had already fallen in love with the company and with our brands. I’ve worked across a variety of businesses, but shave care is, by far, my favorite.
EBONY: There is so much technology that goes into shave care. What is the most interesting fact you have learned on the job?
SB: Before I started on Gillette, I didn’t realize how much research went into every razor we make. I’m a nerd at heart, so I get pretty excited about everything from the often overlooked trimmer edge on the Gillette Fusion ProGlide SilverTouch ($8.99-$12.99; drugstores) to the fact that our blades are thinner than a surgeon’s scalpel. Knowing that every piece of every razor you hold is made with intention makes me really proud that over 800 million men around the world trust their faces to us every day.
EBONY: Gillette recently went on a "Kiss & Tell" tour nationwide with sexy celebs including Keri Hilson and Adrienne Bailon. Why did you decide to partner with these lovely ladies?
SB: Keri and Adrienne are beautiful, successful and confident women. They know what women want, and how to get guys to listen. They were perfect partners to help spread the news during our Kiss & Tell tour, which revealed that 85% of women across the country prefer to kiss a guy who’s smooth shaven.
EBONY: How can women incorporate themselves into their men's grooming routine?
SB: While women sometimes dress to impress our girlfriends, men are really different. They're a lot more concerned about being attractive to women and finding out what women want. Women are often shy about sharing their preferences with their guy, because we think they will get their feelings hurt. I’ve realized, though, that most guys welcome the help. If it’s done in a respectful, a.k.a. not “nagging,” way, women can feel free to drop a hint or two about what they love on their guy, or even help by buying them products they might never think to get for themselves.
EBONY: What upcoming launches can readers look forward to?
SB: Consumers responded so positively to the Kiss & Tell tour that we’re pleased to be extending it! Our 16-city live national survey found that two out of three women said men would have better luck with them if they were smooth shaven. So we’re taking our new K.I.S.S. (Keep It Smooth Shaven) Tent out on Spring Break, educating guys about the benefits of staying smooth shaven, and offering up free shaves and free grooming products to keep them smooth shaven all week. Look out for us at top Spring Break destinations including Miami, Daytona Beach and South Padre Island from March 12 – 22.
EBONY: Rumor has it you have any upcoming honeymoon coming up. What are your beauty essentials that you will be traveling with?
SB: Yes! Super excited! I’m in Nigeria now and then honeymooning in West Africa. It’s really steamy here, so my absolute essentials are Bobbi Brown Protective Face Lotion ($48; bobbibrowncosmetics.com) and CVS Oil Absorbing Sheets ($4.79 for 50 sheets, CVS.com). It’s been so hot my makeup practically melts off, but I never leave the house without my M·A·C Pro Longwear Eye Liner ($19.50, maccosmetics.com).
Janell Hickman is the Associate Beauty & Grooming Editor for EBONY magazine. Follow her on Twitter @jmargaretbeauty.