Procter & Gamble: Corporate Crimes

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In their own words

As reported by PR Watch[1], The director of external relations for Procter & Gamble, Mark Chakravarty, recently told a UK healthcare PR conference that the drug industry is less than popular with the public. "There is a high suspicion of the pharma industry. Greed, dishonesty and fraud are some of its associations. The clinical trial press this week and an increased number of drug scandals add to this image," he said.

Marketing Strategies

1. Creating Demand & Brand Loyalty P&G aggressively markets its products to the public, using clever marketing strategies, including advertising. P&G is one of the world’s biggest advertisers and was the first company advertising directly to consumers on a national scale. Most of P&G’s product lines are the premium brands that cost a bit more than competitors –and much more than generics (generics are cheaper than any branded product).

‘P&G isn’t trying to compete with generics’, says an analyst[2]. Therefore marketing is of great importance in order to tie consumers (including children) up to P&G’s brands (in other words, to forge so-called ‘product loyalty’), to capture new markets and expand market shares.

Creating demand is a big part of the game. ‘In creating demand P&G have seen major success with shopper research. The company has developed a Europe-wide Shopper Research Programme involving interviews with over 30,000 shoppers. When this is combined with other research data and retailers' shopper data, there is a powerful combination of information available to shape mutually beneficial business plans.’[3]

Basically, giants like P&G try to hook up as many consumers worldwide with as many products as possible, through aggressive promotion of consumerism, at tremendous environmental and social costs.

Marketing is not advertising… Marketing is not even a combination of advertising and a whole bunch of other stuff added in, such as packaging, and promotions, and market research, and new-product development….Those are marketing tools…Marketing is a strategic activity and a discipline focused on the endgame of getting more consumers to buy your product more often so that your company makes more money…That is what it’s all about, what is has always been about, and what it will always be about. (Sergio Zyman, former chief marketing officer of the Coca-Cola company, 1999)[4]

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Secrecy

2. Secrecy ‘At P&G, branding is almost everything. Like the Wizard of Oz hiding behind his curtain, P&G has for most of its history hidden behind its powerful array of consumer brands. About itself –about the people and practices that go into developing those brands—it has retained a rather secretive air. Pay no attention to the corporation in Cincinnati, the company seemed to say. Instead, just watch as billions of consumers keep coming back to products like Crest, Folgers, and Tide.’[5]

Just how closed was P&G? Last year (2000), Nabil Sakkab, senior vice president of R&D in the global fabric and home-care group, got up in front of his colleagues and declared that they had borrowed their approach to the outside world from "the halcyon days of the Kremlin and the CIA."’[6]

P&G claims to be more open now, providing more information and increasing interaction with consumers. But ‘in its boldest experiment yet with using the Web to reach consumers, the company has invested in a site that all but conceals any association with P&G or P&G-style branding. Nowhere on the (Reflect.com site) will customers see any sign that they are in effect shopping for a P&G product. Reflect.com lets women "brand" their own versions of makeup, perfume, and other beauty-care products. Reflect.com is majority-owned by P&G but operates as a stand-alone enterprise. While P&G won’t say how close Reflect is to profitability, Kent (one of the founders of Reflect.com) emphasises that "the site garners a healthy amount of traffic."’[7]

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The Biggest Shouter

3. ‘The Biggest Shouter’ For P&G, brands are the chief medium through which it communicates with customers. ‘P&G spends billions of dollars a year to tell consumers through bold, persistent advertising that Pantene or Pringles (for example) would reliably deliver what their hair needed or what their stomach craved. While the company has made the use of focus groups and test markets into an art form, it has kept such interaction with customers tightly under wraps. "We’ve been voted the best marketer of the 20th century," an associate director of corporate communications at P&G says, referring to a ranking published by Advertising Age magazine. "But that’s because we are the biggest shouters."’[8]

Misleading Messages

4. Misleading Messages P&G’s pampers commercial brought in a well-deserved greenwash award.

"English rock singer Rod Stewart and his good friends at Procter & Gamble co-operated for the newest Pampers TV commercial. Stewart, who according to his own PR is a committed environmentalist, has allowed P&G to use his song, "Forever Young" to accompany a breathtakingly beautiful montage of wild animals and their young. The images include a lion cub nestled in its mother's arms; a baby elephant being guided over a fallen tree by his mother's trunk; a young hippopotamus frolicking in the water with a fully-grown hippo. There is no voice over - only the familiar sound of Rod Stewart singing. I waited to see what environmental group had put this magnificent commercial together, but I shouldn't have bothered. As the last image of the animals faded, the picture of a package of Pampers disposable diapers appeared. The voice over said, "Wherever you go, we're always right behind you..."[9]

This commercial is even more cynical if you take into account the fact that P&G’s practices create tremendous environmental waste and damage (e.g. through its promotion of consumerism, excessive packaging, direct pollution of the natural environment, etc) AND the fact that the company tries to influence the perception of children with regard to environmental issues (see section ‘Influencing Research and Education’ above).

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Free Gifts

5. Free Gifts P&G is famous for its distribution of free samples and other gifts. In Try&Buy, which has become the most visited section of the P&G web site, consumers can purchase new products before they show up in the supermarket or drugstore. (In May, a pampers gift pack was on sale through PG.com)[10]

Sharpening marketing techniques in order to lure consumers more effectively. Marketing is still gaining importance, as is reflected in a restructuring of P&G’s relations with suppliers and retailers. The company wants to ‘act as one’; targeting consumers with integrated marketing strategies. ‘Expanding the relationship with customers from a purely transactional buying/selling relationship to a co-marketing relationship is being considered a huge opportunity.

Mr Millen cited the example of the highly successful launch of Sunny Delight (fruit juice), where a key element was the combination of the right kind of in-store support (e.g., put the fruit juice in the freezer to give the impression of freshness) and joint co-marketing with customers to shoppers with kids. Likewise, with Febreze, the right in-store distribution, shelving and focusing of co-marketing support to different consumer groups like pet owners and smokers is delivering outstanding results.’[11]

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Use of Internet

6. Use of Internet: reach more consumers at higher speed P&G has turned the Internet into a device for selling more of its products and reaching more consumers. P&G is experimenting with new marketing techniques in order to boosts its sales.

‘The company is no longer solely focusing its test-market programs on cities where the ‘average’ US household (white, two parents, two kids) is disproportionately common. Using the Web, P&G is broadening the demographic reach of its research to include people of colour [for example, P&G has launched its own beauty-line for black women], people form non-traditional families, and people in major urban areas.’

‘The virtual test market also gives P&G a quick, useful feedback on how traditional marketing efforts are faring. E.g., during the test period for Whitestrips P&G placed ads for Whitestrips in various magazines. Each ad featured a special code, and readers were offered a discount on the product in exchange for visiting Whitestrips.com and entering that code. By tracking such codes, P&G gained insight into the effectiveness of ads in different magazines. P&G realised it had to change the way they were buying media.’[12]

The effectiveness of marketing can improve through the Internet. ‘As CEO A.G. Lafley told shareholders in 2000, "By doing (a) test online, we can do it for a tenth of the cost in a quarter of the time."’[13] "We can get an idea in front of consumers fast, learn, further develop the system, and get it back in front of consumers again," says Lafley. "We can do four consumer learning cycles in the time it used to take do one. The result: better ideas faster."[14]

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P&G targets children

7. P&G targets children ‘Months after closing its controversial Swizzle teen-community site in the UK, P&G is plunging back into teen-community building with two sites in the US --Tremor and Toejam. The sites advance a strategy P&G CEO Lafley outlined last year as ‘identifying and leveraging influence of "teen chat leaders" to market products’. The site hosts contests and give-a-ways: Toejam offers members a chance to register for "welcome gifts" that include samples of P&G products, which will also be distributed at parties and entertainment events, with tickets distributed by retailers and members. The site is backed by print, outdoor, event, radio and in-store advertising and promotion via Barefoot Advertising, Cincinnati[15].

P&G launched BeingGirl online in July 2000, after having thoroughly investigated how to approach girls in the most effective way. ‘Don’t mention the brand. Tell her that "being a girl rocks." Create a cartoon icon that looks like an extra from Josie and the Pussycats. Give her advice on topics that matter to her, like, right now. For example: "Do boys like girls who are smarter than they are?" Make no mistake: BeingGirl is about getting teenage girls to buy Always and Tampax, both of which are P&G brands. But P&G has learned that to reach those girls through the Web, it must create an environment where they feel no less at ease than they do at the nearest shopping mall.’[16]

See also section ‘Influencing Research and Education’ above, which provides information about P&G’s interference with kids in elementary schools.

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P&G targets women

8. P&G targets women: profiting from gender stereotypes ‘The odd man may enjoy shopping for tampons, diaper and fabric softener, but it is mostly a task left to women. And because women typically control household shopping, P&G markets most of its products almost entirely to the women.’[17]

Focus on Feelings. ‘Procter & Gamble's brand-leading Always sanitary towel has challenged the conventions of the sanpro category by taking a different stance on the notoriously sensitive area of menstruation. Departing from the ‘life-is-fun-even-with-your-period’ style of ads so typical to this sector, P&G's latest campaign is aimed at engaging with women's moods and feelings toward their bodies at that-difficult-time-of-the-month.’[18]

‘The ad (that hit screens in August 2001) begins with a woman sitting in a car after a shopping trip, suffering from a hot flush. As she fiddles with the air conditioning and an electric fan to try and cool herself down, the voiceover says: "Your temperature fluctuates slightly when you're having your period and you may feel the heat more." It goes on to explain why this happens to women before their period. When the woman's friend finally starts the car the air conditioning cools her down but the car stalls and the voiceover says: "At least that's one less thing to get steamed up about."’[19]

‘According to Sally Woodage, head of UK communications for P&G, the creative idea is to achieve light-touch humour rather than belly laughs. "We wanted to show that we really understand women and their feelings and relationship with their bodies," says Woodage. "It's much more about how women feel rather than the functionality of the product." Hence the strapline, ‘Always. Talking your body's language.’[20]

Bring Out the Beautiful You (Perpetuating Sexism). Procter & Gamble's leading personal care brands are uniting together to introduce Bring Out the Beautiful You, At Your Best Each and Every Day. This program (autumn 2001) is a national health and beauty initiative designed to celebrate inner and outer beauty and support women's health.

As a special benefit to consumers who purchase two or more participating Bring Out the Beautiful You (BOTBY) products, P&G is offering a free CD sampler of female country artist Trisha Yearwood's music, including a track from her new album, Inside Out. The P&G brands participating in this campaign are Pantene, Vidal Sassoon, Olay, Secret, Crest toothpaste and Crest Whitestrips, Tampax and Always [21].

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Tampax Total You Tour

9. Tampax Total You Tour. ‘You want to hang out with your friends, have a good time and get enlightened at the same time? You are invited to the Tampax Total You Tour were you can experience manicures, makeover and all kinds of free stuff.’[22]

The Tampax Total You Tour 2001-2002 visits Historically Black College Campuses and cities throughout the US. The Tour focuses on ‘the lifestyles of young, black women through talk and entertainment.’

‘This Tour will help you expand your mind, relax your body and enhance your spirit’

Reflect.com…’where your individual beauty is our greatest inspiration.

10. Reflect.com…’where your individual beauty is our greatest inspiration.’ At Reflect.com woman can ‘specify their individual beauty needs and desires with a precision that has never been available before.’ Reflect.com ‘interacts with you through specific questions composed by our top beauty experts and research scientists, to mirror your needs creating one-of-a-kind products just for you.’[23] Stressing individualism is an essential ingredient of promoting consumerism: encouraging people to mark and/or create their unique identity/characteristics through the purchase of products.

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Soap Opera.

11. Soap Opera. The Soap Opera as we know it today would most likely not have existed if it were not for advertising. Since the beginning, soap opera and news have been two of the most prominent narrative forms on television and radio. Mostly in the sense that, they are amongst the most watched and enduring forms of TV. Daytime television developed from daytime commercial radio, which had originated to reflect the interests of the advertisers target audience, American housewives. The establishment of commercial broadcasting, which permitted the selling of commercial time over the air, set the stage for the development of the soap opera.

At a time when radio ruled the day, the move by P&G to television-based soaps was considered a risky move. Television was a new medium and relatively untested for sales and marketing purposes - much the way the Internet is today. However, P&G saw television as a new way to reach its target audience, women with an interest in purchasing some of its many household products, hence the derivation of the term "soap opera." P&G's first foray into TV soaps came on December 4th, 1950 with the broadcast of The First Hundred Years. The soap was also the first soap opera to appear on CBS. P&G next debuted The Guiding Light on television on June 30th, 1952. The program had been airing on radio for over 15 years. Among its other well-known soaps are Another World and The Edge of Night, both of which are no longer in production [24].

The Guiding Light and As The World Turns (the world’s longest running soap) are the two P&G soaps that are still running.

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P&G teaching materials

12. P&G teaching materials, a few examples: -The Crest 1st Grade Dental Health Program is designed to assist teachers by providing dental health educational materials. A "trusted partner in education", Crest has provided this program to schools for over 38 years.

-The Always Changing/About You Program is designed to teach puberty and personal hygiene education to 5th grade boys and girls. It has been taught by nurses and health educators to millions of students for more than 15 years. -The Puffs 1st Grade Program is being introduced for the 2001/2002 year to assist educators in teaching 1st grade students about germ prevention and staying healthy.

See: www.pgschoolprograms.com/programlist.asp

P&G targets Gays

13. P&G targets Gays: profiting from stereotypes P&G is solidly entering the gay market, a news article reports (23 December 2000). ‘With new offerings to remove wrinkles, whiten teeth and style hair, P&G is looking for some product attention and making a play for looks-oriented gay shoppers.’ P&G increasingly advertises in Gay Magazines with gay-specific ads. ‘While countless alcohol, travel, fashion and financial services brands are well established in the gay market, marketers of such everyday use items have long been missing.’ Thus, it makes perfect sense for profit-seeking household giants such as P&G to target the gay community as a new and growing market.

‘In June, gay marketing specialist Paul Poux was called to P&G's headquarters in Cincinnati to make a general presentation about the gay market to 75 executives. Though no direct assignment to Poux came from the presentation, he followed up with Crest managers and convinced them to give away promotional materials for Crest Whitestrips at a gathering of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association taking place the following month.’ Poux notes that marketers are starting to be attracted to the gay market for being known as "early adopters" -- people who will be the first to try new things. "There is a growing sense of them as an urban, concentrated market to start a buzz for new products."

Poux says: "People are suspicious of targeted marketing because they wonder, ‘Are they really supporting us or are they just out to take our money?"[25]

‘While executives will have you believe that landing in gay media is just to reach certain demographic characteristics -- and not to seek a gay audience -- the reality is that until recently P&G and many other major players would never consider reaching the so-called "dream market" for political reasons. Many still don't. However, as public attitudes towards gays relax and the economic importance of the gay community grows (as taboos break down), historic fears of reaching out to the controversial gay market will disappear. Some gay marketing specialists recommend that corporations first have gay employees' issues covered before initiating gay marketing efforts. Although P&G instituted a non-discrimination policy covering gays in 1993, P&G has yet (as by December 2000) to extend health benefits to include same-sex partners.’[26]

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P&G Influences Content of Television

14. P&G Influences Content of Television America's biggest advertisers are wielding their considerable power to influence the editorial content of the television networks. The Guardian reports how (in the week of 22 August 2001) CBS, one of the big four US networks, pulled a handful of rerun episodes of its drama series, Family Law, because of pressure from P&G. ‘It's the latest, and perhaps clearest, example of the recession-inspired shift in power from media owner to advertiser. The incident has been viewed as a worrying example of a large advertiser being able to influence the editorial content of a network's programming.

P&G is understood to have found the subject matter of these Family Law episodes too controversial, particularly one that featured a child custody case and a gun-owning mother. Other dropped episodes touch on subjects such as the death penalty, abortion and inter-race marriage. This is not the first incidence of a powerful influence that goes largely unnoticed by the public, but it is part of a growing trend.’[27]

‘While the CBS executives have been anxious to point out P&G did not ask them directly to pull the shows, advertising dollars are a great weapon in the current drought. Of course, P&G is free to advertise where and when it likes. Whatever the economists and politicians want to call it, it is clear this recession is looking scary for media owners. Advertising history shows us it is very easy to maintain standards of editorial integrity in boom times. We can only expect more stories like this.’[28]

Note: -P&G signed a notably large $300m (£211m) advertising contract with CBS's parent company, Viacom, in May 2001. The bulk of this - about a third of P&G's spend on domestic TV advertising - goes to CBS. -P&G is a founder member of the "family friendly" group of advertisers, which was set up to promote programme-making that does not offend any viewer.

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P&G sacks workers & rewards CEOs

15. P&G sacks workers & rewards CEOs In May 2001, P&G announced further job cuts in an effort to reduce its operation costs in line with those of its main competitors. P&G now plans to cut 9,600 jobs in addition to the 15,000 redundancies announced in 1999. In effect, the company will shed a further 16% of its total worldwide workforce over the next three years. 40% of the job cuts are to occur in the US, the remaining 60% affecting its foreign operations. Announcing the fresh cuts, CEO Lafley insisted that "The simple fact is that over the past year P&G’s performance has been unacceptable." [29]

However, in the same period Lafley’s own salary rose by 46,4%! He was paid $799,100 in fiscal year 2000 and $1.17 million in fiscal year 2001][30] This meteoric growth in executive pay is obviously troubling, unjustified and insulting to workers, just like the growing phenomenon of corporate boards showering generous parting gifts on failed CEOs. ‘The latest evidence: on 25 August, P&G disclosed that it gave just-ousted CEO Durk I. Jager a $9.5 million bonus--even though Jager lasted no more than 17 months at the helm and with P&G's stock down 50%, costing P&G shareholders more than $70 billion in wealth.’[31]

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Mistreating Employees

16. Mistreating Employees The Economist’s David S. Patterson reports after reading Alecia Swasy’s ‘Soap Opera: The Inside Story of P&G’: "The author's] investigative reporting, which included interviews with hundreds of current and former P&G employees, provides a highly unflattering portrait. P&G, she finds, "has manipulated and abused its own employees, consumers and competitors and gotten away with it for years." . . . Nothing in Swasy's account is more chilling than her description of P&G's efforts to monitor and control its employees' lives and work habits, and her account of how it has used its economic, political and legal clout to silence critics, both inside and outside the business."[32]

Appalling working conditions

17. Appalling working conditions Many of us know in our minds, or feel in our hearts, that the products and materials we use in our daily lives are helping to destroy the natural world and may be manufactured under working conditions that are dubious at best. Yet we don't have the information we would need to make ethical choices.

And the problem is growing worse. As "free trade" laws allow corporations to move more freely across international borders, information about the impacts of corporate activities is becoming more difficult to get. A large corporation can affect people and the environment in dozens of countries simultaneously. Most of these impacts are hidden, even from the managers of the corporations involved because they buy from suppliers or brokers who, in turn, buy from others. The ultimate impacts remain hidden from the consumer and, too often, from corporate managers themselves.

Take the case of P&G, which distributes Citrus Hill orange juice. The oranges come from Florida farms and are picked largely by itinerant workers. However, P&G neither operates the farms nor buys directly from the farmers. Instead the oranges are purchased from a broker who serves as a go-between and who, unlike P&G, operates outside of public view. P&G has no direct knowledge of the environmental or worker conditions at these farms.

Yet a CBS-TV investigative report reveals that working conditions at some of the orange groves are little better than indentured servitude. Migrant workers live on the farms in abysmal conditions, without even a bare minimum of comfort, sanitation or dignity. Yet, in return for room and board they must pay their employer an amount in excess of their salaries. In a vicious circle, each worker becomes deeper in debt to the landlords, some of whom refuse to return the workers' "green cards" until the debt is paid off. The arrangement is patently illegal, as are the living and working conditions, yet local authorities appear to wink at the situation[33].

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P&G Destroys Local Businesses

18. P&G Destroys Local Businesses. Case: India Mr Bharat Patel, Chairman P&G India said, "We realise that advertising is the life-blood of a consumer goods company and that brands are built through it."[34] P&G, followed by its competitor Unilever, is the biggest advertiser in India. Both companies consider developing countries such as India as huge growth potentials.

George Fernandes (Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) and president of the Samata Party, one of seven national parties in India. He has held three cabinet positions between 1977 and 1990. As industry minister in the late 1970s, Fernandes kicked Coca-Cola out of the country for violating investment laws) in an interview with the Multinational Monitor (mainly focussing on his fight with Coke and Pepsi) outlines the ill effects of foreign multinationals stepping into India.

"First of all, we have our own industries closing down. Our small-scale industry is dying. As Minister of Industry, I reserved 807 items for small-scale industry. All that is now gone. There is just no area where the multinationals cannot come in. They can now set up roadside eateries. We have hundreds of thousands of dhabas (roadside food stands) all over the place. Now you are going to have a McDonald's come and take over dhabas. You are seeing a situation where Indian companies in industry and the service sector are getting killed. There is a lot of unemployment that is being generated as a result of these closures."

"Additionally, our technological growth efforts are being wiped out. We didn't have much money to put into research and development in the first place. But whatever research and development we had is being lost, because even medium-size or large-size - by Indian standards - companies are unable to cope with the competition from the multinationals. For instance Tatas. Tatas is India's largest single conglomerate. It had a soap-producing unit called Tomco. They produced Hamam Soap, for a fairly large market - last year its market was about 600 crore rupees (£133,7 million). But Tatas caved in before Hindustan Lever (a subsidiary of the British/Dutch Unilever), and Hindustan Lever bought them out. As far as India is concerned, there is no house bigger than Tatas."

"Then you had the other large Indian soap-producing unit, which was Godrej, a huge family-owned corporate enterprise. Godrej produced a whole variety of soap, both for the upper-bracket and the lower-bracket consumer. They were also in other industries, like electronic typewriters, furniture and safes. Apart from producing these soaps, they had additional capacity, which they loaned to other companies. These other companies produced soap in the Godrej facilities and marketed it under their own brand names. This company has now sold its soap operations to P&G. And when General Electric said it was coming in with its refrigerators, Godrej - which had 55 percent of India's market in refrigerators - surrendered to them, forming a Godrej-GE joint venture with 50-50 equity."

"So we are in a situation where there isn't any hope for even the large-size or medium-size Indian companies who are confronted by these multinationals. All this talk of competition is okay, but this competition is like asking me to take on a Japanese sumo wrestler. You can say that both of us have a level playing field, but I am not built like that. I can't possibly take on a sumo wrestler."[35]

BusinessWeek (30 October 2000) reports how local investors in India avoid investing in local businesses. ‘Because, they say, such multinationals as P&G, Gillette, Pfizer, and SmithKline Beecham are playing an elaborate shell game, with the aim of repatriating profits and bypassing local shareholders. In recent years, foreign companies have been buying best-selling brands from their locally listed subsidiaries and moving them to entities that are 100%-owned by the far-off parent.’[36]

’A cynical ploy? The multinationals say that it is just part of their strategy of global consolidation and not intended to hurt local investors. But those investors complain that the listed subsidiaries are left with lesser brands and limited growth prospects. Most multinationals treat Indian shareholders differently from shareholders in their home countries, says Manish Chokhani of Enam Asset Management in Bombay. It's unfair.

’Critics say that companies with new 100%-owned subsidiaries are paying below-market prices for the brands once held by the listed affiliates. For example, P&G paid just $4 million to buy Ariel detergent, when sales were $33 million (£23,24 million) a year. Local analysts reckon Ariel could have fetched $30 million (£21,11 million) or more on the open market (…) P&G says its shareholders cheered when Ariel detergent was moved to the 100% subsidiary in the mid-'90s. The brand had been losing money and had dragged the Indian subsidiary into the red. But investors were less sanguine when P&G began introducing a slew of new products through the unlisted company. Now, the listed subsidiary has only three brands left: Vicks decongestant, Whisper, a feminine hygiene product, and Old Spice aftershave.’[37]

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India: Illegal GMOs Found in Pringles Potato Chips

19. India: Illegal GMOs Found in Pringles Potato Chips New Delhi, June 6, 2001 -- In a press conference held in the Defence Colony market in Delhi, Greenpeace announced that Genetically Engineered (GE) foods have illegally entered the Indian market. Greenpeace provided evidence of two popular products – Pringles Potato Chips (P&G) and Isomil Baby food (Abbott Laboratories) containing genetically engineered ingredients. Tests very specifically showed the presence of Monsanto's GE Roundup Ready crops in both the products.

According to Indian law it is illegal to import or sell any genetically engineered food products without the prior approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. After checking with the GEAC, Greenpeace found neither Abbot, nor Monsanto or P&G had applied for a permit, in blatant violation of the law. Not only are these companies unashamedly violating the laws of the country, they are deceiving an oblivious public", stated Michelle Chawla, Greenpeace's Genetic Engineering Campaigner.’[38]

Excessive Packaging/Pollution

20. Excessive Packaging/Pollution ‘In Germany, reducing waste paper and plastic isn't just a nice idea or good public relations, it's mandated. The German law that makes manufacturers rethink the issue of wasteful packaging has its origins in the 1991 Ordinance on the Avoidance of Packaging Waste (Verpackungsverordnung). For the first time anywhere, a national government turned a good idea-"extended producer responsibility" (EPR), or the "polluter pays" principle-into public policy.’[39] Despite a few early growing pains, the initiative can be considered successful.

‘Practically no recycling expert gives an EPR bill much chance of passage in the US. Despite corporate lip service on Earth Day and other cosmetic efforts, the American packaging industry has effectively lobbied against any proposed legislation. State and local initiatives have also been blocked by industry lobbying (many examples are listed in the article). The closest thing to an EPR lobby in the US today is a small coterie of intellectuals who study the Green Dot program in Europe, produce papers about implementing a similar system here, and commiserate about the slim chance of that happening.’

"In the current Congress, there's no likelihood that such a program would be passed," says Fishbein, one of the intellectuals. "Some of the companies that are really vociferous opponents of EPR initiatives here are the same ones whose subsidiaries are running the program there-Colgate, P&G, Coca-Cola," she adds ironically.’<

A few success stories can be traced in the US. ‘However, more typical is the rather blunt assessment of Scott Stewart from P&G's corporate environmental affairs office. Although P&G is an EPR leader in Germany, it's decidedly bearish on the subject at home. "In America, consumers' primary needs are price and function," Stewart says. "Waste minimisation and environment impact are not a big issue for most people. Some items are eco-friendly-highly concentrated, with reduced packaging--but people are not demanding them like the Germans do." EPR, says Stewart, "is just too expensive. We're not interested in anything similar over here."[40]

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P&G ‘assaults the environment and environmentalist’

21. P&G ‘assaults the environment and environmentalist’ Peter Montague, PhD (Environmental Research Foundation) reported (August 1993) an appalling story about environmentalist Stephanie McGuire and her efforts to prevent P&G polluting the Fenholloway River in Florida. He claimed that, for years P&G legally dumped 50 million gallons of dioxin-contaminated water into the river each day and he accused P&G of threatening and physically abusing McAcquire, the woman who tried to stop P&G from polluting the river[41].

Maarten van Riemsdijk tried to identify patterns with regard to multinational’s responses to public actions against them [on the basis of various cases, including the aforementioned P&G case. He emphasised that the McGuire case was not incidental]. He found there is a fixed pattern in the reactions of multinationals. The relevance of societal developments is being denied as long as possible and problems are being ignored. Multinationals are only willing to dialogue when it’s too late. "Ignorance gets them in trouble; arrogance keeps them there." Van Riemsdijk concluded that the ‘tactic of ignoring’ stems from the multinational’s incapability to communicate at other levels than those of money and economic interests[42].

P&G supplied Third Reich

22. P&G supplied Third Reich ‘Just when we thought we knew all there was to know about the Holocaust, David Steinman, in Moon and Stars and Holocaust, provides us with shocking documentation that P&G was instrumental in facilitating the institutional infrastructure that undergirded Hitler's plan to wipe Europe free of Jewry. In recent years the roles of various European and American corporations in aiding and supplying the Nazis have been exposed. Now (February 2001) we have evidence that P&G, producer of Charmin (TM) toilet tissue and icon of American business, was complicit in the Final Solution, putting the profits it derived from sales of toilet paper, toothpaste and other toiletries above responsibility and morality.’

‘We have been told that "nobody knew." Nobody knew the extent of Hitler's plans for the Jews; nobody knew that the Third Reich could carry out the Final Solution; nobody knew that Final Solution was being implemented. Now we know that not only did many know, but that some, like P&G, made it possible for the Final Solution to proceed apace.’[43]

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Burma

23. Burma While most Western companies have already pulled out of Burma in response to that country's abysmal human-rights record, P&G continues to work with the Burma regime. This despite a specific request by Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's democratically elected leader, for foreign companies NOT to come to Burma until democracy does[44].

Censorship

24. Censorship ‘P&G is being accused by Edward Kennedy and other senior US senators of practising corporate censorship. The charges stem from P&G’s David-and-Goliath dispute over TV adverts placed by Neighbor to Neighbor, a grassroots pressure group campaigning for a boycott of coffee from El Salvador. The trouble started when Neighbor to Neighbor placed an advertisement on WHDH-TV, a Boston affiliate of CBS. The advert, which cost she group $900 (£633,45) for two 30-second showings, urges consumers to boycott Folger’s coffee, North America’s best-selling brand.

Folger (a P&G subsidiary) buys some of its coffee from El Salvador. The advert claims that sale of Salvadorian beans leads to ‘misery, destruction and death’. It says that wealthy coffee planters fund the right-wing death squads responsible for the disappearance and murder of tens of thousands of people in the Central American republic over the last 11 years.

The day after the ad was shown, P&G announced it was indefinitely suspending all advertising on WHDH-TV for its entire range of products, including Pampers diapers, Crest tooth-paste and Head and Shoulders shampoo. The TV station estimates P&G advertising revenue at one million dollars a year. Neighbor to Neighbor were delighted with the free publicity provoked by the row, but have been effectively frozen out of TV advertising — since P&G made its announcement, only one other TV station has run the advert. "In El Salvador, death squads silence their opposition violently", says Neighbor to Neighbor director Fred Ross. "Here in the US Procter & Gamble is attempting to silence us using the power of the dollar."’[45]

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P&G abuses animals

25. P&G abuses animals P&G is notorious for its continuous animal abuse, despite promises to do otherwise.

At a shareholder meeting on 10 October 2000, P&G shareholders raised their voice on the issue of animal abuse. ‘Every year, thousands of rabbits, ferrets, Guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice are killed to test cosmetic and household products. P&G engages in these tests despite the fact that they are not required by law and despite the fact that more reliable and humane alternatives do exist,’ said Bill Lauterwasser speaking on behalf of himself and the national organisation ‘In Defense of Animals’, also a shareholder in Procter and Gamble.

After revealing some horrific details about the actual practices of animal abuse Bill Lauterwasser continues: ‘In 1999, P&G announced that they would halt animal testing on its current products. What they downplayed, however, was the fact that testing would continue on "new-to-the-world" products and products whose ingredients are changed or altered. P&G states on their website that the "new to the world" products are expanding rapidly. This means thousands of animals continue to die in P&G laboratories -- the victims of painful, archaic and entirely unnecessary product tests.’

‘Procter & Gamble spends millions of dollars to package itself as a responsible, caring company, and claims to be a leader in the development of alternatives to the use of animals in product testing. But in less than 5 days, P&G spends more on advertising than it claims to have spent in 14 years on alternatives to painful and lethal animal tests.’[46]

Up until today cruelty and torture continues to take place in Procter & Gamble's testing labs. ‘In Defense of Animals’ (US) and ‘Uncaged Campaigns’ (UK) keep putting pressure on P&G. An added major focus this year (2001) is on the P&G owned company Iams, a dog and cat food manufacturer, doing ‘cruel invasive and terminal experiments on dogs and cats for supposed nutrition research’.[47] Iams was bought by P&G in September 1999. In addition to P&G's animal testing practices, IAMS - as a company in its own right - has a legacy of performing invasive, painful and lethal experiments on animals[48].

UK-based ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) lists 10 reasons to boycott P&G: http://www.pginfo.net/scary.html[49]

Huntingdon Life Sciences, the world's largest commercial animal testers, maintain a colony of monkeys for on-site testing on behalf of Proctor & Gamble [50].

Spying on competitors

26. Spying on competitors Unilever has recently settled a dispute with P&G over P&G's spying on Unilever's hair-care division in the US (7 September 2001). ‘During a six-month espionage operation, P&G acquired roughly 80 documents from Unilever's hair-care operations’, according to Stephen Milton, a Unilever spokesman[51].

Fortune reported that competitive-analysis executives at P&G hired a general contractor, who in turn hired perhaps as many as a dozen subcontractors to spy on his competitors in the hair-care business –particularly Unilever, but other companies as well. At least one of the competitive-intelligence firms hired by P&G [competitive intelligence, corporate jargon for spying] delved into dustbins in an attempt to obtain information of Unilever[52].

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Fake Fat

27. Fake Fat P&G produced a controversial fat substitute olestra, marketed under the name Olean. Olestra, a synthetic combination of fatty acids and sugar bound together in molecules too large for the body to absorb or digest, is P&G's trade name for sucrose polyester. Replacing fats in snacks with olestra could cut the average US fat intake by around 3kg/a, P&G claims. In 1995 the FDA approved olestra for testing in several states in America (by summer 1998, savoury snacks fried in olestra were on sale across the US) despite many complaints about the fat substitute. In all, about 800 consumers had reported mild to moderate side effects, including diarrhoea, according to the FDA.

‘More alarming is olestra's ability to wash out of the body certain nutrients believed important for preventing disease. While P&G will fortify Olestra with vitamins A, D, E, and K, it will not add back a controversial class of nutrients known as carotenoids, which many believe, protect against cancer. P&G says evidence for that is lacking. This nutrient depletion "could potentially produce a large number of deaths annually and major morbidity in the US population," Dr. Meir Stampfer of Harvard University wrote the FDA.’[53]

The Center for Science in the Public Interest -- a consumer watchdog group -- wanted olestra products to be pulled from shelves. "An additive that can cause vomiting or diarrhoea does not belong in a snack food eaten by millions of Americans," argued Michael Jacobson, the centre’s executive director[54]. In addition, Harvard doctors argued that Olestra should be kept out of food. "We believe the FDA should not ... allow Olestra to be introduced into the American food supply," wrote Harvard University Nutrition Department Chair Dr. Walter Willett and aforementioned Dr. Stampfer in a release based on their research.

P&G has been firing back with testimonials, including one from former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, who is now a paid consultant to P&G. He says the fact that the FDA has approved the fat substitute is good enough for him. Sullivan calls Olestra "a very good, innovative product with another approach to controlling our weight." We can’t rely on governmental regulatory agencies like the FDA, because they lack funding, employ many people that originate from the private sector, are often closely linked to politicians, and rely on research conducted by multinational corporations.

‘According to Henry Blackburn of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, one of five FDA panel members who voted against Olestra's approval, "The FDA did not conduct a disinterested peer review. The FDA staff worked closely with P&G and acted as proponents of the company's petition." Of the 17 FDA panellists who voted to approve olestra, nine have links to companies that could benefit from its approval.’ In addition, ‘several high-profile scientific experts have publicly touted Olestra without disclosing that they or their organisations receive funding from P&G.’

Also, he says, ‘P&G political action committee (PAC) contributed more than $300,000 to congressional races in the last election cycle in order to line up support in Washington. In February 1995, Sens. John Glenn and Michael DeWine and Reps. John Boehner, Steve Chabot, and Rob Portman (who doesn't accept PAC money but took contributions from P&G executives) wrote a joint letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala to argue that olestra is safe.’ Finally, P&G’s impressive public relations campaign includes "Hitting the Opposition" and "Paying for Science". Blackburn lists many examples to back up his argumentation[55].

But above all, isn’t it dubious, to say the least, that billions of people go hungry each day and do not have access food to fill their stomachs with, while at the same time, corporations [targeting wealthy, weight-conscious consumers] are inventing foodstuffs containing ingredients that leave the body untouched?

"By replacing the fat in snacks, Olean can help millions of Americans cut excess fat and move closer to achieving an important dietary health goal," says P&G Chairman John Pepper. This is not true. ‘Americans have been hoodwinked into believing that anything that's fat free won't make them fat’, says Michael Fumento. ‘They so fervently want to believe it that they do. But they're wrong. Any energy consumed that is not burned off immediately becomes fat. Overeating is our [referring to Americans, "the fattest nation on the face of the earth"] problem and Olestra, far from curing it, will only encourage it among many people.’[56]

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Rely Tampons Tragedy

28. Rely Tragedy ‘As sales of Rely tampons mounted, so did evidence that the product was linked to toxic shock, yet P&G management refused to print warnings and instructed sales people to deny the link. The company pulled the product from the market in 1980 only when it was apparent that the Federal Government was prepared to order a recall.’[57]

‘Rely was removed from the shelves after a landmark lawsuit, with P&G issuing a public letter dated September 22, 1980, stating, "This is being done despite the fact that we know of no defect in the Rely Tampon and despite evidence that the withdrawal of Rely will not eliminate the occurence of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) even if Rely's use is discontinued.’ The 1980 letter also says, "Much additional research of the habits and practices of women who have had TSS is needed to understand the reasons for the association of this disease with tampons."

Sure, blame the victims, make women feel dirty and ashamed so they'll suffer silently and not make big companies take responsibility ... P&G has two words: SLAPP suit [Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation]. What about the following two words: Precautionary Principle?

Multinational tampon companies still put synthetic fibers, chlorine compounds and "secret" additives into tampons. Prior to the use of these "additives," when tampons were made with pure cotton, Toxic Shock was NOT associated with tampon use [58].

P&G distributes GM contaminated food

29. P&G distributes GM contaminated food P&G recalled hundreds of thousands of cans of Pringles snack chips in Japan because they contained genetically modified potatoes not yet approved by regulators there for human consumption. The consumer products company said the recall involved 8% of the Pringles cans on Japanese store shelves. P&G said it initiated the recall after routine testing within the past week discovered the presence of ingredients made from two types of bug-resistant potatoes, called NewLeaf Y and NewLeaf Plus, which were created by Monsanto. P&G said it still is investigating the cause of the contamination (Wall Street Journal, 18 July 2001) [59].

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References

  1. PR Watch Telling It Like It Is Accessed 28th March 2008
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