Claim: The president of Procter & Gamble announced on a popular talk show that he donates a portion of the company's profits to the Church of Satan.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]
The President of Procter & gamble appeared on the Phil Donahue Show on
Origins: Procter & Gamble's president is neither a Satanist nor does his company support the Church of Satan. What we have here is a rumor run amok, one that's been eluding the butterfly net since 1980. Not only does this rumor antedate the supposed 1994 Donahue air date given above by
(Save for the handful of corporate heads who have been very visible as the public face of their companies, such as Apple's Steve Jobs, or who have represented their companies in television commercials, such as Wendy's Dave Thomas, company presidents and CEOs just aren't entertaining or well known enough to be appealing guests for national talk shows and therefore are rarely invited to make appearances in such venues. This is something that should be kept in mind when examining the plausibility of wild tales about damning admissions supposedly made by corporate types on popular talk shows.)
How Procter & Gamble directs its profits is a matter of public record, as it is for all publicly-traded companies. (Procter & Gamble is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PG.) Were P&G handing a "large portion" of its profits to Satan, that would be readily apparent in the company's financial statements.
Those who accepted the rumor as revealed truth pointed to P&G's "man in the moon" logo as proof of the company's ties to evil. They saw in the curlicues of the moon man's hair and beard a pair of devil' horns and an array of 6s, and they believed that by playing "connect the dots" with the thirteen stars in the logo, three 6s could be made to appear. (According to
There is nothing sinister in the logo's design, let alone a hidden code that reveals the true intent of the company. P&G's "man in the moon" trademark was adopted in 1851, at a time when goods were more commonly marked with visual trademarks than with companies' names. The ability to read was not as widespread then as it is now, so companies offering an array of consumer goods rather than just one product had strong reason to devise memorable pictorial logos for their wares.
The thirteen stars were an homage to the original thirteen colonies of the United States of America, and the man in the moon was simply a popular decorative device of the times. (Specific visual motifs often enjoy periods of enthusiastic commercial use and then sink into cultural obscurity. America in the early part of the
Nonetheless, in the face of persistent "Satanism" rumors, Procter & Gamble modified their logo in 1991 to eliminate the supposed horns and 6's, and in 1995 they dropped the "man in the moon" logo entirely in favor of a simple stylized "P&G" rendered in blue letters.
In July 1999 the dog and pony were trotted into the ring once again, with the claim about a CEO's admission that his company was donating a portion of their profits to the Church of Satan being amended to reference an incident that supposedly place on
In response to all the inquiries about this claim, Sally Jesse Raphael added the following disclaimer to her FAQ:
Rumor has it that the president of Procter and Gamble appeared on your show and said that he was associated with the Church of Satan. I would appreciate more information if you have any, perhaps a tape of the show if available. If this is a hoax, please let me know.
The rumor going around that the president of Procter and Gamble appeared on The Sally Show and announced he was a member of the church of Satan is not true. This a hoax that's been going around in one form or another for the past
Although the origin of the P&G satanism rumor is unknown,
The self-same "head of large company proclaims that company tithes Satanic causes" hoax has been kited about others. In 1990, designer Liz Claiborne was dogged by the widely-believed rumor that during a recent appearance on Oprah she admitted to donating 40% of the profits from her clothing company to support the Church of Satan. The rumor was wholly false (Liz Claiborne never even appeared on that Oprah's show), but that didn't stop the tale from spreading. Similarly, in 1977 the rumor mill had it that Ray Kroc of McDonald's also made the startling admission on a TV talk show that his company tithed the Church of Satan. Again, even though there was nothing to this bit of gossip, it was believed and acted upon — not only did customers boycott the golden arches, but kids quit their McDonald's-sponsored Little League teams over the slander.
Barbara "devil's food" Mikkelson
| Talk Show Denials |
(Phil Dononue, Jenny Jones, Sally Jessy Raphael)
Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Choking Doberman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984. ISBN 0-393-30321-7 (pp. 169-186). de Vos, Gail. Tales, Rumors and Gossip. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 1996. ISBN 1-56308-190-3 (pp. 26, 279-282). Morgan, Hal and Kerry Tucker. Rumor! New York: Penguin Books, 1984. ISBN 0-14-007036-2 (pp. 144-145). Schiller, Zachary. "P&G Is Still Having a Devil of a Time." Business Week. 11 September 1995 (p. 46). Scott, Bill. Pelicans & Chihuahuas and Other Urban Legends. St. Lucia, Queensland: Univ. of Queensland, 1996. ISBN 0-7022-2774-9 (p. 59). Smith, Paul. The Book of Nastier Legends. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986. ISBN 0-7102-0573-2 (p. 68). Stampler, Laura. "In Spite Of Old, False Satanist Accusations, P&G Put a Moon Back Into Its New Logo." Business Insider. 21 May 2013.
The Houston Chronicle. "High Court Favors P&G Over Amway." 2 October 2001 (Business, p. 5). Newsweek. "Tall Tales: McDevil Burgers?" 23 October 1978 (p. 85). Orlando Sentinel Tribune. "Claiborne Company Dogged by Rumor About Satanic Cult." 30 November 1990 (p. E3). Reuters. "P&G Awarded $19.25 Mln Against Amway Distributors." 19 March 2007.
Also told in:
The Big Book of Urban Legends. New York: Paradox Press, 1994. ISBN 1-56389-165-4 (p. 172).