Monday, February 06, 2006

Once again, The Onion predicts the future (and other miscellania)

I was thumbing through the paper this morning when I came across a startling, full-page, 4-color ad for the Gillette Fusion five-bladed razor.

And I said to my wife, "Who the hell needs five blades?"

Well, we know who needs five blades, don't we? Gillette, of course! An eight-pack of five-bladed Fusion replacement cartridges will run you a steep $24.99 at

Meanwhile, my old Trac II shaves just fine with only two blades and I can snag a ten-pack of replacement cartridges for just $10.99.

En route to searching for a picture to post of this brilliant new technology that shaves you so close, you actually end up shaving the inside of your skin, I stumbled across an article from The Onion from nearly two years ago that predicted this exact product.

Once again, The Onion proves Nostradamus-like in its satire.

Here's a snippet. (Go read the entire piece. It's a hoot.)

Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades

By James M. Kilts
CEO and President,
The Gillette Company

February 18, 2004

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened—the bastards went to four blades. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five blades.

Sure, we could go to four blades next, like the competition. That seems like the logical thing to do. After all, three worked out pretty well, and four is the next number after three. So let's play it safe. Let's make a thicker aloe strip and call it the Mach3SuperTurbo. Why innovate when we can follow? Oh, I know why: Because we're a business, that's why!

You think it's crazy? It is crazy. But I don't give a shit. From now on, we're the ones who have the edge in the multi-blade game. Are they the best a man can get? Fuck, no. Gillette is the best a man can get.

What part of this don't you understand? If two blades is good, and three blades is better, obviously five blades would make us the best fucking razor that ever existed. Comprende? We didn't claw our way to the top of the razor game by clinging to the two-blade industry standard. We got here by taking chances. Well, five blades is the biggest chance of all.

Wonderful, eh? And scary that the insanity of the real world eventually catches up to their satire. (And, yes, the famous headline and story after the first GW Bush coronation inauguration remains their most frighteningly accurate Nostradamus moment.)

A few pages further on in the paper, I found this startling piece of news:

Postage Is Due for Companies Sending E-Mail

Published: February 5, 2006

Companies will soon have to buy the electronic equivalent of a postage stamp if they want to be certain that their e-mail will be delivered to many of their customers.

America Online and Yahoo, two of the world's largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a system that gives preferential treatment to messages from companies that pay from 1/4 of a cent to a penny each to have them delivered. The senders must promise to contact only people who have agreed to receive their messages, or risk being blocked entirely.

The company providing these "tollbooth" services is Goodmail.

So, okay, I get mail in a Yahoo account from a few businesses I buy from on a regular basis, including specialty outfits like that sells cycling gear. These companies inform me of things like sales, travel bargains and other information I find useful. But as the article points out:

Matt Blumberg, the chief executive of Return Path, the New York company that runs Bonded Sender, said there was no need for the Goodmail price to be so high.

"From AOL's perspective, this is an opportunity to earn a significant amount of money from the sale of stamps," he said. "But it's bad for the industry and bad for consumers. A lot of e-mailers won't be able to afford it."

Will e-mailers who sell specialty items with smaller audiences be shut out of reaching their customers through AOL and Yahoo mail accounts because they won't be able to afford the fees? Quite possible.

But I was struck by the Goodmail's CEO use of "protecting consumers" as a justification for his company's service:

"The e-mail in-box is a potentially dangerous place," said Richard Gingras, the chief executive of Goodmail. "There is a tremendous need for a class of certified e-mail that can convey to consumers that a message is authentic."

Mr. Gingras argued that companies will be glad to pay the postage fee because their customers will have more trust in their e-mail and thus will buy more from them.

Yeah, right. Sound familiar? Reminded me of the scare tactics the Bushies employ to justify illegal spying and torture. "It's a dangerous world out there and we have to do these things to keep America safe."

Well, I call bullshit, Mr. Gingras.

As the article points out earlier:

But in recent years the volume of spam has leveled off, in part because of a new federal law that imposes penalties for many deceptive e-mail practices. Moreover, most major e-mail providers have built sophisticated filters that divert much of the spam. AOL says that spam complaints from its members are down 75 percent since their peak in 2003.

So why do they need this service, again?

Between a new five-bladed razor, and trumped up scare tactics designed to make AOL and Yahoo millions off of e-mail, I rated this a bad day for capitalism.

As I told my wife, some days I'm embarrassed to be in the marketing and advertising business.

She reminded me that it pays the bills.

Always the pragmatist.


At 2/06/2006 11:09 AM, Anonymous gina said...

Hi Bob Johnson,

Gina Cooper here with YearlyKos.

I was wondering if you might be able to help us out with a little project. Would you mind contacting me at yearlykos at gmail dot com?

I'm having total humor blackout with something I need to write (today! yikes) and I'm wondering if you may be able to advise/rescue me. Thanks!

At 2/06/2006 12:03 PM, Anonymous Not-Bob said...

Saturday Night Live did a bit on three blade razors back in the 70s.
It was a great bit spoofing 2-blade razors with a “ridiculous” 3-blade razor.

Hey, Gina are you worried that instead of a love fest YearlyKos will be slugfest?

At 1/19/2009 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's that SNL transcript


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