The master stroke of Victor Kiam’s career was simply his coining of the phrase “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company.”
A classic twanging, tanned American salesman, Kiam’s one-liner spawned a new era of straight-shooting slogans in advertising, and sharpened up the image and profit margins of Remington razors overnight. Catchphrases such as “men can’t help acting on Impulse” and “it does exactly what it says on the tin” owe a lot to Kiam’s ad, which was first aired in 1979 when he acquired the Remington company.
Kiam was rather predisposed to marketing utilitarian products
Loaded with entrepreneurial spirit, Kiam studied at Yale, the Sorbonne and Harvard business school, and went on to become chairman of three public and seven private companies. What he was most fond of was selling new products, building up small companies and rehabilitating failing ones.
He became a household name after his endorsement of Remington razors and travelled the world, repeating his sales pitch in every language, from Japanese to Afrikaans. Kiam transformed Remington from a company with losses of $30bn to a profit-making one after just a single year at the helm.
Kiam also became the majority owner of the New England Patriots NFL team in 1988, a role he occupied for four years.
Ten years later he bought into Ronson, an ailing cigarette lighter company based in the UK. Kiam, who was rather predisposed to marketing utilitarian products, also ran TravelSmart, which produced a range of journey enhancing items and stayed chairman of Remington until his death in 2001. You can imagine him sweet-talking his way through the pearly gates.
Kiam even managed to exert an influence from beyond the grave. In 2002 he was awarded £105k posthumously in a libel case.
It seemed quite a large amount given his wealth, his, er… not being alive anymore and the fact that awards for personal injury claims for brain damage or heart disease were considerably less.
Kiam had brought the case against The Mirror for reporting that he was set to leave Ronson. As he had said he planned to carry on at the company, he inferred that the paper was by implication calling him a liar.