Grooming: Uno, Due, Tre... Quattro?

Few men hop out of bed each morning and say: "Oh, goody, I get to shave today!" But this month brings a rare bit of excitement to male grooming: the new Schick Quattro, the first-ever four-blade razor. The Quattro will seek to carve into sales of the Mach 3 Turbo, the flagship blade of industry leader Gillette. To fight off its new rival, Gillette has filed a patent-infringement suit against Schick. Gillette is also testing new ads that don't talk about technology. In one print ad being tested in Philadelphia, a man slumps at his desk over the headline ISN'T MONDAY ROUGH ENOUGH? The ad, called a "frequency campaign," tries to educate men about the benefits of changing razor blades more often, using the tag line "Change Your Blades. Make Your Week." "It's just one of the concepts we're testing," says a Gillette spokeswoman. But could it boost sales? Dartmouth marketing professor Kevin Keller says it depends on "whether men believe that after seven days the blade has lost its pop."

To see if the Quattro outshears Gillette's top razor, NEWSWEEK recently conducted a shave-off. A half-dozen male staffers each did half his face with a Quattro and half with a Mach 3 Turbo, then asked women to rub both sides. All six testers (who normally use Gillettes) thought the Mach 3 Turbo was more navigable, glided better and provided a more comfortable shaving experience. (Schick engineering vice president Dave VerNooy responds: "It will take a couple of shaves to adjust to the [Quattro's] design.") Comfort aside, which razor left faces smoother? Four testers gave the all-round nod to the Mach 3 Turbo, but two named the Quattro the superior whisker remover. As did waitress Effie Kontis at Joe Jr.'s restaurant in Manhattan, who rubbed one tester's face and declared the Quattro side the winner--but only by a hair.