Heading into the Winter Classic, many Capitals fans noticed something different about Alex Ovechkin. The Russian machine, one of the world’s most well-marketed athletes, was starting to look scruffy again. Since December 2010, Ovechkin had been either clean-shaven or sporting a meticulously maintained mustache. Until now.
RMNB has confirmed with Gillette that Ovechkin’s four-year contract with the company ended on December 31, 2014.
“With the launch of our new Gillette Fusion ProGlide with Flexball Technology, we’re just focusing more on the addition of the second pivot in telling the product story,” Gillette spokesman Kurt Iverson said. “Alex was great for the brand and we enjoyed working with him. We’ll be sure to send him the new product in case he wants to try it out.”
Among Ovechkin’s responsibilities as spokesman was to promote the product in his homeland.
“[Ovechkin’s participation with Gillette] included an Olympics activation, of course, but also lots of Russia-focused connection to the brand throughout the span of the deal,” Iverson explained. “He was on our in-store materials/displays as well as ads in print and digital (Internet).”
According to an annual brand popularity report, Ovechkin’s commercials and marketing material helped Gillette receive its highest ranking ever among Russian men aged 18 to 34. Gillette had not previously appeared on the list. Ovechin’s contributions helped them into the top 20.
We’re told both sides are exploring ways to collaborate again in the future.
“This has been a very good relationship for Alex and Gillette,” Ovechkin representative David Abrutyn said to me. “Gillette was one of the first consumer product companies to use Alex in Russian specific advertising.”
“From new product launches to Olympic marketing programs they succeed driving business and popularity of Gillette among young males,” he continued. “It’s also a credit to Gillette that they respected Alex and traditions of the game during the playoffs and worked with him during Movember to support that important global charity initiative.”
To celebrate and appropriately mourn the partnership for now, I’ve compiled my favorite moments. There’s some good ones.
HBO’s 24/7, which chronicled the Capitals and Penguins Winter Classic match-up way back in 2011, featured intimate moments with the athletes. One included Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin at home, wearing only a bath towel, shaving in the bathroom. You don’t get much more intimate than that.
Later HBO showed a clip from the press conference announcing the deal. “They chose me,” Ovechkin said to the media.”So it means I have very good face.” Hard to disagree with that logic.
Ovechkin’s first Russian-language commercial with Gillette tackled the reason why I have a beard. “There’s a superstition that you can’t shave before the important games,” Ovechkin said in Russian, as translated by Fedor Fedin. “This is a great excuse for a hockey player with sensitive skin, but with Gillette Series Aftershave Balm, you won’t feel dry or tightened skin anymore. The new balm’s formula with aloe vera moistens skin after shaving. So from now on, use Gillette and have no superstitions!”
The commercial was straight-forward. They would get more creative with time.
Word broke on December 28, 2012 that Ovechkin and Gillette had re-upped through Sochi. There were some special provisions. Ovechkin could now grow a mustache with the rest of his team during Movember, which raised funds for men’s health.
Ovechkin’s next big commercial with Gillette got global attention for its ridiculousness. Ovechkin, sporting many different facial hair looks, promoted the Gilette Fusion ProGlider. “With a nimble move he changes the whole flow of the game,” the voice-over screams.
In February 2013, Gillette released another commercial featuring Ovechkin. The Great Eight performed some fancy trick shots for young Russian women clad in high heels.
“Sasha, Sasha!” the girls scream in the beginning of the video, asking for an autograph.
“Let me do something better than autographs,” Ovechkin says. “Come with me.”
Leading up to Sochi, Ovechkin did photoshoots and interviews for Russian media to promote Gillette. We learned that Ovechkin’s parents were confused on why he needed seven cars, and we also found out how many times his nose has been broken, but my favorite part was the image above, created by Maxim: Ovechkin as an actual Russian machine.
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