How A Satanic Rumor Almost Ruined Procter And Gamble

Ridiculous rumors abound and sometimes they hit businesses. Does anyone remember Pizzagate? Occasionally, the rumors get so out of hand, the company has no choice but to play damage control.

That's what Proctor and Gamble had to do when conspiracy theories of Satanic worship within the organization kept getting brought up. Proctor and Gamble (P&G), the largest consumer manufacturer in the world, is known for brands such as Tide, Olay, Tampax, Downy, Pampers, Crest, Swiffer, and so much more, it's basically like naming an entire grocery shelf.

The rumor goes, writes Business Insiderthat the president of P&G went on the Phil Donahue Show (or another similar talkshow) sometime in the early 1980s, the year varies ... because it was a rumor. Anyways, on the show, the president was said to have admitted that he worshipped Satan and the company's logo contained references to the devil. The P&G logo featured a "man in the moon," — a face on a moon crescent looking at a field of 13 stars. That logo, by the way, was trademarked back in the 1880s, a century before the "Satanic Panic" that overtook the US.

Atlas Obscura reports that a man named Jim Peters, whom they couldn't locate, claimed he saw the logo in a book by an Egyptologist who studied amulets. The company's PR team said that was a ridiculous rumor and the news will die down. It did, for a short while at least. Then, in 1982, the Phil Donahue version of the story started circulating.

Cue the inevitable lawsuits

Suddenly, P&G began fielding calls about its logo and supposed connection to Satanic worship. People claimed they read the man on the moon's beard featured an inverted 666 and that stars were another set of sixes, writes Atlas Obscura.

Annoyed, the company began suing people caught spreading the rumor. They also changed the logo, taking out the stars and the moon and just featuring P&G in serif. But it still didn't stop the rumors.

It resurfaced in 1995 and this time, P&G was ready to fight it. The New York Times reports it filed a lawsuit against four former distributors of its competitor Amway who they alleged shared the rumors. P&G's lawsuit claimed the Amway distributors used a voice mail system to tell customers that P&G's profits were going to a Satanic cult. The case dragged on for a decade. A district court in Cincinnati ruled in favor of the company and awarded P&G $19.25 million in damages.

Since the end of that lawsuit, P&G reintroduced the moon to its logo. It's just a simple crescent looking over the letters P&G to avoid more comparisons to anything occult. The company has largely stayed out of other conspiracy theories, but at least it had some crisis PR practice for when kids started eating Tide Pods.