Freebies

I have spent many years working in marketing in the video game industry. A very important aspect of this was getting reviews of our games in the media, so we sent out large numbers of free samples of every game to journalists hoping they would write about them. But the journalists never said in their reviews that they didn’t pay for the game. This is the same across every industry. You don’t think that an automotive magazine actually buys every Porsche and Ferrari that they test, do you?

In the video game industry in the early 1980s many kids started up their own magazines which were called fanzines, they did this just to get free games sent to them. And yes, we sent them free games. Nowadays people set up fansites and these days they don’t just get free games, they get invited to events, wined and dined etc etc. I know because I have been the marketing person who does this for them.

So fast forward to this blog, it is in men’s grooming which is a multi billion pound industry, so very soon after starting it I received offers of free stuff, which were turned down. This is because the stuff offered was not what I wanted to write about for my readers. If offers came in for stuff that was worth writing about then they would be very quickly accepted!

Which brings us nicely, to Frank Shaving. When I first discovered their brushes on eBay I took the risk with $9.99 of my own money and bought one. What came through the post was so fantastic that I thought that every wet shaver should know about it, so I evangelised these brushes with no gain whatsoever for myself. In fact the brushes are so good that I bought two more with my own money.

Then Ian Tang told me he was going to experiment with short lofted brushes and would I try them out for him. He sent me two and, in the interests of my readers, I wrote this up but stated quite clearly what had happened. Also when mentioning them on forums I made sure that the facts were very clear. Now $20ish worth of brushes does not buy very much of my time, so what was written was purely to inform the reader, not to benefit me. Anyone who thinks otherwise is plain stupid. It is worth pointing out that there are three articles on here about Simpson’s brushes and that I have paid for every Simpson’s brush that I own myself.

Also remember that most producers of kit send out samples all the time. In shaving I know of people who have sent stuff and people who have received stuff and then written about it as if they had bought it. But this is as nothing compared with forum owners who openly take money from vendors, presumably in exchange for favourable treatment and who then ban other, perfectly good traders. Is this for not paying up? And they then say that the bans are because these are bad traders, look at some of those who have been banned and decide for yourself.

Nanny’s Silly Soap Company is an excellent supplier of some of the best artisan soaps you can buy, iKon make one of the finest DE razors you can buy, New Forest Brushes sell very high quality brushes at reasonable prices, Connaught Shaving are one of the top suppliers of traditional shaving kit (especially blade sample packs) in Europe and Leisureguy is one of the most influential writers about traditional shaving. Yet you are not allowed to hear from them on certain shaving forums because they are banned, so the readers of those forums are misinformed because they are not getting the complete picture. In general some of the forums covering traditional shaving leave a lot to be desired.

So to get the record perfectly clear the only freebie I have ever received to write about in this blog was $20ish worth of short lofted Frank Shaving brushes from Ian Tang and it was made perfectly clear at the time that this was the case. Since then Leisureguy has very kindly offered to send me a copy of the 4th edition of the Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving, this after the article about it was published here. I have accepted because I want to read the book. Also Kimson has offered to send me a brush, once again after the article about them was published here. If he does I will tell my readers more about it, which is what they would want.

So I am on the moral high ground here and those who have criticised me are often doing so from a position of dubious morality. And to all those kit suppliers out there, keep on sending me the freebies, but no Fusion razors please.


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10 Comments


  1. Right on!! I am here tonight because I remembered you writing about a Lord Razor from Ebay. Trust your writing and integrity to help me make an informed decision. In fact will probably order one of those Tang brushes too.


  2. Freebies are part of doing business if you are an ‘influencer’. No right-minded individual would think that the occasional $10 sample makes any difference at all when you’re out there day after day trying to make a living. The very thought is pretty insulting. Don’t worry about it.

    Sounds to me like you should start a shaver’s forum — one without pettiness or vested interests. Dominance would be almost assured, as the (shaving) cream soon rises to the top 🙂


  3. Well my first Frank brush is on the way. Butterscotch handle silver tip badger. Well Bruce, I will finally find out what all the fuss is about. Cheers! Now if you know anything about BMW motorcycles I am listening.


  4. As someone who has been a member of shaving forums for years and wondered about their politics I salute your effort to speak bluntly and powerfully on the subject. Keep up the good work.


  5. It is nice to see the members of one forum going after the dictatorial management there for their suppression of Frank Shaving brushes. Even better some of the pathetic excuses that the management are coming up with are being picked apart.
    Nobody shilled their forum, nobody had a motive to. There were some enthusiastic evangelists making posts, but you expect that when such a fantastic bargain comes along.


  6. I asked Ian Tang (eBay Frank Shaving brush supplier) if he had ever posted to a forum. This was his reply:

    Hi,Bruce,

    Not yet.I only view my clients talking and opinion via forum.But do not enjoy them.

    I believe owners of forum do not welcome a seller promote his product via it.And in a potential buyer’s position,He will prefer a user’s advice than a seller’s advertising.

    Thanks/Ian


  7. Thanks for email response from Ian. Its too bad that the forum believes the same man had multiple accounts promoting the product? Very nice article and well put. Its too bad the truth cant be expressed on the forum in question though. Of course the mods would have a perfect explanation and of course a good reason to delete it immediately after of course banning the poster;)


  8. Very good article. I believe it does explain some of mysterious actions taken by forum administrators.

    I got my second Frank brush just before leaving on a trip, a little guy with an ebony handle. I shaved with it the morning of the trip: Paisley Lavender shaving soap. Three generous servings of lather for three passes with no return to the soap. Great performance for around $10.

    I now have a Frank Butterscotch large brush on the way.


  9. A rather open, honest and above all, gentlemanly post.

    Lets face it, bang for your buck, you can’t beat Frank Shaving… I’m sitting here having just received a custom 28mm silvertip with a gorgeous butterscotch handle… it lathers as well as my Simpo Chubby 2 and my Rooney 3/3 in finest… a teeny bit scritchy for silvertip but at $38 that is no criticism at all!

    All power to Frank Shaving and yourself Bruce. The way the truth has been distorted is something Nazi Germany would have been proud of.

    In the words of Azul Nadir, don’t let the bastards get you down.


  10. More fun.
    On one forum several members were given LiJüN & 1980 badger brushes from China which they freely wrote about. Yet when I did the same with Frank Shaving brushes I was banned. Total hypocrisy.
    Now Fido has started a thread there asking them to explain themselves. And of course they have no answer.

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