Société Bic

Société BIC S.A., commonly referred to simply as BIC and stylized as BiC, is a corporation based in Clichy, France best known for making ballpoint pens. It was founded in 1945 by Baron Marcel Bich and has become known for making disposable consumer products such as lighters, razors, mechanical pencils, and printed paper products.

In 1970, Gillette purchased S. T. Dupont Paris whose principal product was luxury cigarette lighters. During this time Dupont explored the possibilities of marketing a disposable lighter, developing an inexpensive disposable lighter called Cricket, which it introduced in the United States in 1972. Later that year Bic was test marketing a disposable lighter that could provide 3,000 lights before wearing out; Bic introduced this lighter in 1973. Typically the cheapest lighter on the market, the Bic disposable lighter was extremely popular and remains so today. As well as the BIC Cristal ballpoint pen, Bic are easily recognizable as a result of their importance in pop culture. As such, they are represented in the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The company competes in most markets against Faber-Castell, Global Gillette, Newell Rubbermaid, Pentel and Schwan-Stabilo. The BIC pen, more specifically the BIC Cristal, was the company’s first product. Bic started to produce disposable razors during the 1970s. In 1975, the brand released the one-piece polystyrene razor, that became a highly demanded product. During the 1980s Bic Shaving product reached $52 million in sales and conquered 22.4% of the market shares. Bic is also known for making disposable razors for both men and women.

The company went public in 1958 with a reverse merger into the older Waterman Pen Company of Seymour, Connecticut, in the United States, and later sold off the older operation. The Bich family owns about 40 percent of Bic stock and controls 55% of its voting power. In June 2010, BIC sold its funeral products division to Prairie Capital, a Chicago-based private equity firm.

BIC’s U.S. headquarters and manufacturing operations were moved to Milford, Connecticut in 1958 after the Waterman Pen Company acquisition resulted in the need for larger facilities. It remained alongside a road eventually renamed “Bic Drive” until a 2008 move to Shelton, Connecticut. A cigarette lighter factory remains on the Milford site. The company’s U.S. subsidiary, BIC Corporation, accounts for more than half of the worldwide company’s sales. Both Bruno Bich, son of company co-founder Marcel, who rose through the ranks in the U.S. organization to become Chairman Of The Board as of 21 October 2010, and Mario Guevara, the company’s Chief Executive Officer as of the same date, worked in the American subsidiary for several years.

BIC sponsored a professional cycling team in the 1960s led by Tour de France winners Jacques Anquetil and Luis Ocaña. The company began sponsoring the Tour again in 2011 as an “official supporter”, which they have continued to do to the present day. BIC also sponsored the Alain Prost–led Prost Grand Prix team in Formula One from 1997 to 2000.

The corporate logo comprises two parts; a rhomboid with curved corners, left and right sides angled upward and containing the letters “BiC” with “i” the only one in lower case, and the BIC Boy to its left. The rhomboid, which debuted in 1950 to coincide with the launch of the BIC Cristal, was originally red with white letters. The font of the letters remains unchanged. The BIC Boy was described on the corporation’s website as “a school boy, with a head in the shape of a ball, holding a pen behind his back.” The ball is the tungsten carbide one that was the key feature in BIC’s new ballpoint pens in 1960. The schoolboy was designed by Raymond Savignac who also developed the product’s “Nouvelle Bille” (new ballpoint) advertising campaign which was intended to attract the attention of children. When the BIC Boy was added to the left of the rhomboid one year later in 1961, both changed to the newly adopted official corporate color of orange (Pantone 1235C).

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