US household products giant Procter & Gamble is going to court to quash long-standing rumours that the company is connected with Satanism.
The rumours allege that P&G’s president talked about Satanism on the US talk-show Donahue and that the company’s moon and stars trademark is a Satanic symbol. The rumours first started 15 years ago. The company has received 200,000 calls and letters on the subject.
P&G has filed a lawsuit against Randy Haugen, a high-ranking distributor for Amway Corporation. Amway is a competitor to P&G and the largest US direct sales firm with a turnover of $5bn (3.2bn). Haugen, a member of the committee responsible for Amway’s business ethics, is alleged to have spread rumours about P&G and Old Nick to other distributors through Amway’s voice-mail system.
P&G says that more than half the lawsuits it has previously filed on the topic concerned Amway distributors.
Although it is hard to see how such innocuous products as Daz, Bounce and Pampers could inspire such controversy, at the beginning of March consumer queries to P&G on the subject were running at 22 a day. This reached a peak of almost 200 a day in May, when the latest wave of speculation began to spread.