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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

(Not So) Pure as the Driven Snow

posted by on March 21 at 11:58 AM

Clicking around this morning I came across this small story:

Procter & Gamble Co. has won a jury award of $19.25 million in a civil lawsuit filed against four former Amway distributors accused of spreading false rumors linking the company to Satanism to advance their own business.

The rumors of Satanism stem from this P&G logo

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and date way back to the early-80s. Just how the rumors got started remains a mystery.

In the suit, P&G alleged that Amway

revived those rumors in 1995, using a voice mail system to tell thousands of customers that part of Procter & Gamble profits went to satanic cults.

The jury evidently agreed. But while P&G may have finally put those ugly Satanism rumors to rest (for now), there’s no hiding the company’s dirty past. Specifically, the fact that P&G once hired a struggling young actress/model named Marilyn Ann Briggs to pose as the oh-so-wholesome mother on their Ivory Snow boxes.

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Unfortunately, Ms. Briggs shortly thereafter changed her name to Marilyn Chambers, and would star in such porn “classics” as Behind the Green Door and Insatiable.

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When word reached P&G that the face of one of their best-selling products could be seen in seedy San Francisco theaters having sex with—gasp!—a black man, it quickly dropped the campaign. The company’s slogan for Ivory Snow, after all, was “99 and 44/100% pure.”

Marilyn Chambers’s billing on the poster for Behind the Green Door was immediately changed to “The 99 and 44/100% Pure Girl,” the film went on to become one of porn’s first “mainstream” successes, and the rest, as they say…

RSS icon Comments

1

I remember in 1983 my Christian sister saying she was going to start boycotting P&G because they were satan worshipers and it was all because of their corporate logo. THEN she decided that Subaru must be satan worshipers too. So pretty much any company with a logo that looks the least bit astrological MUST be in leagues with the devil.

Posted by monkey | March 21, 2007 2:03 PM
2

the strange thing, bradley darling, is that i saw a woman wearing that weird proctor and gamble moon and stars logo as a pendant just MOMENTS ago in pike. i bet she had a dead baby in her handbag...and some downey.

Posted by adrian! | March 21, 2007 2:48 PM
3

That's such a hokey rumor to begin with. Satanism? Does that even make sense? Be sceptical of the intentions of corporate America, but c'mon. I don't even think there is, or ever was, an organized Church of Satan in 20th century America, unless these people were under the impression P&G was funneling their billions in revenue into Anton LaVey's 3 bedroom dump in the Outer-Sunset.

Since that civil suit victory is obviously symbolic, and they'll never get their $19MM out of these people, P&G could've saved themselves a ton in legal fees and just issued a press release saying "C'mon people, Satanism? Really?"

Posted by Dougsf | March 21, 2007 2:54 PM
4

I do remember back in the 80s hearing about a proposed boycott of Proctor & Gamble because of their logo. I guess Evangelicals fear the moon and stars.

Notice: NONE of the stars are "upside-down".

Posted by elswinger | March 21, 2007 3:12 PM
5

I have it on good authority that Christian fundamentalists do believe in Satanists and are extremely paranoid about them. My father's fourth wife was one (a Christian fundamentalist, not a Satanist) and everytime a child kidnapping was in the news, she would blame it on the Satanists. Then, someone would find the kid's body and the murderer would turn out to be just your run-of-the-mill pedophile rapist/murderer.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 21, 2007 3:23 PM
6

The logic or illogic of an urban legend has no bearing on its spreadability. The story supposedly had the CEO of P&G going on the Donahue show to announce his allegiance to Satan, which is just plain ridiculous, but it never stopped the story from spreading.

The Amway choads are different, because they were spreading the story intentionally in order to harm a rival, which tells you more about the caliber of individuals at Amway than it does about P&G.

I always get mixed up with Marilyn Chambers being the Coppertone Girl instead of the Ivory Snow baby, but that was Jodie Foster (age 3).

Posted by Fnarf | March 21, 2007 3:24 PM
7

The irony is that if any business is a cult, it's Amway.

Posted by him | March 21, 2007 3:43 PM
8

It's interesting that, although probably not the case here, so many of these types of rumors about corporations are started by a rival to harm their business (I think Dr. Pepper = prune juice is an example, although I think that was from rival shipper/drivers, and I still might be confusing this).

I do "get" P&G stance on this - believable rumor or not - since these people were rightly stopped for intentionally inflicting hurt on their business by spreading lies, but still, it's amazing how many people were going for this.

It was weird how Satan - who'd for so long been used as a cheap Red Menace metaphor - got all mixed up and suddenly became "real" to people again in the 80's.

Posted by Dougsf | March 21, 2007 3:56 PM
9

When I was a kid I'd had heard that Dr. Pepper was just "prune cola" so I never drank it, that is, until a couple years ago when the Lake City Taco Bell stopped selling Root Beer. I was on dialysis at the time. so had to avoid colas because of the potassium and phosphorus.

Anyway long story short, now I like Dr. Pepper, especially the stuff bottled in Dublin, Texas. They are the original Dr. Pepper bottling plant and the only one that still uses real sugar and old-fashioned 8oz glass bottles.

Posted by elswinger | March 21, 2007 4:20 PM
10

In 2004, Focus on the Family, and the American Family Association, organized a boycott of P&G products. According to news articles (L.A. Times, NY Times, WSJ), the boycott was in response to P&G's donation to a Cincinnati gay rights cause, and also for P&G's support of gay pride parades, and their advertising on such shows as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Will and Grace. Here's a quote from an L.A. Times article written by Stephanie Simon (11/01/2005)

"In e-mails urgent with bold-faced type, the group offered "proof" of Procter & Gamble's depravity by linking to an ad for Downy Wrinkle Releaser that ran in a Canadian magazine several years ago. The photo showed two men who had scattered their clothes in their rush to bed, with the caption: "You were more concerned with taking them off than folding them up."

That ad so outraged customers that 360,000 signed a vow to stop buying Crest toothpaste, Tide detergent and Pampers diapers. Thousands more clogged P&G's phone lines. "It was significant enough to draw our attention," spokesman Doug Shelton said."

In April of 2005, P&G pulled their ad dollars from gay themed tv shows and magazines. The boycott was then ended, and that's when I started avoiding P&G products. I did miss Pringles for a while, but I now find Lay's Stax to be a superior product. P&G was started in the 1800's by two guys... one made candles and one made soap. How gay is that? P&G also used to make Crisco. Thankfully, they sold it to Smuckers.

Posted by nightlifejitters | March 21, 2007 6:22 PM
11

Bradley gets bonus points for quoting "White Lines" by Grandmaster Flash.

Posted by Gomez | March 21, 2007 9:20 PM
12

him @ 7:

So true...I was (a long time ago) an Amway rep for a short time and the comparison to a cult is not too far off. I was given motivational audio tapes and the speakers' approach to 'spreading' the 'good news' of Amway wasn't too different than some tv preachers...

Posted by LOCsurvivor | March 21, 2007 10:38 PM
13

And here we learn strange things I happen to know a bunch about.

The P&G Satanism scare is just a small part of a larger Satanism scare in the late 70s/early 80s. It also tied into the ritual Satanic abuse scare that sent hundreds of (innocent) people to jail (see McMartin Trial, etc).

Evangelists and some women's rights groups were tapping into the repressed memories movement among psychiatrists and believed all these now shockingly foolish stories about Satanism, Satanic abuse, rapes, etc. Check out Michelle Remembers for a truly fascinating look into how all this garbage worked. It's a book written by a woman and her psychiatrist (later husband) about her "experiences."

Thanks History major.

Posted by brie | March 22, 2007 1:53 AM
14

Ahhh that's so crazy! I remember when I was a kid (in the 80s) my mom told us not to use proctor and gamble toothpaste cuz the symbol on the back of the tube meant they were evil satanists. We weren't even churchgoers, but apparentely she was spiritual

Posted by Faux Show | March 22, 2007 3:40 PM

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