We can but hope that with their latest advert, Gillette have “done a Ratner”. The 12-second video we posted last night, What to do with Gillette and other Procter & Gamble products, has already been viewed 500+ times.
Gerald Ratner, 69, is a British businessman and motivational speaker. From his Wikipedia page:
Although widely regarded as “tacky”, the shops and their wares were nevertheless extremely popular with the public, until Ratner made a speech addressing a conference of the Institute of Directors at the Royal Albert Hall on 23 April 1991. During the speech, he commented:
We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, “How can you sell this for such a low price?”, I say, “because it’s total crap.”
He compounded this by going on to remark that one of the sets of earrings was “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long.”
Ratner’s comments have become textbook examples of why chief executives should choose their words carefully. In the furor that ensued, customers stayed away from Ratner shops. After the speech, the value of the Ratner group plummeted by around £500 million, which very nearly resulted in the firm’s collapse. [J4MB emphasis] Ratner hired a chairman in an attempt to stabilise the situation, but was subsequently fired by the new company leader in November 1992. The group then changed its name to Signet Group in September 1993.
Today, Ratner’s speech is still famous in the corporate world as an example of the value of branding and image over quality. Such gaffes are now sometimes called “doing a Ratner”, and Ratner himself has acquired the sobriquet “The Sultan of Bling”. Ratner has said in his defence that his remarks were not meant to be taken seriously. He also largely blamed the aggressiveness and deliberately wrongful interpretation of several media outlets for the severe consumer reaction.
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