Procter and Gamble

Procter and  Gamble (P&G)  is an  American manufacturer of soaps  and  beauty products that  was first established in the 19th  century and is now a billion-dollar business. P&G  has introduced a myriad  of common household beauty  products that  range  from Ivory Soap to Oil of Olay.

In 1837, cousins William  Procter and  James Gamble founded P&G  in Cincinnati, Ohio. Originally it produced candles and laundry soap. In 1879, P&G introduced Ivory Soap,  a soap  intended for both personal hygiene  and  laundry. It was not  meant to be a beauty  product and  was sold  on  its purity  and  ability to float. In 1926, P&G  introduced its first personal beauty  soap, Camay, a perfumed soap. In 1933, P&G created a new beauty product, Drene, a liquid shampoo that cleaned oil off of hair. At around the same time, it developed a liquid  dentifrice called Teel that  it stopped selling during World  War II.

In  1947,  P&G  started a division  to  concentrate on  toiletries and  opened a new  factory  in Cincinnati to develop  and  produce them. The  company developed  Personal Size Ivory, which  was sold as a beauty  product along with a number of soaps  and  shampoos. The  company continued to sell Drene and  created Shasta Cream  Shampoo and  Prell, which  is still on  the  market. In 1948,  P&G began  manufacturing permanent kits. Lilt was the  first one  the  company produced, followed  by Pert and Party Curl. Finally, P&G developed Pin-it, a permanent that  used  bobby  pins. They  also tried  manufacturing Lana  for bleached or frizzled hair,  but  it proved  unsuccessful, and  they followed  up  that  failure  with another one, Wondra, a face-cleansing cream.  In 1952, P&G began  manufacturing Gleem  toothpaste and  the  much more  popular Crest,  with  fluoride added. Over  the  next  few decades, the  company would  develop  similar  products and expand into new territory: the 1960s and 1970s, for example,  saw experiments in men’s  hair care products, along  with Head  and  Shoulders antidandruff shampoo,  Secret  and  Sure  deodorants, Scope  mouthwash, and  Coast, a deodorant soap  bar.

By the  end  of the  1980s,  the  company began  to look  for ways to expand sales of cosmetics and beauty  products and began  to acquire other corporations: They purchased Noxell  Corporation, manufacturers of Noxzema products and CoverGirl cosmetics. They  also acquired Bain de Soleil, a sun  care product line, and in 1991  they bought Max Factor  and  Betrix from  Revlon. By the end  of the 1990s, they had control of the fragrance business belonging to Giorgio  Beverly Hills and had  introduced the  world  to Pantene Pro-V, which  became the  fastest-growing brand of shampoo across  the globe. From  2001 to 2008, the company purchased the  Clairol  hair  care  line  from  Bristol-Myers Squibb, found an  entrée into  the professional hair  care market by purchasing a controlling interest in Wella AG, a German company, and  began  to produce the  Old  Spice  line of products and  to sell Hugo Boss Baldessarini, a luxury fragrance brand for men. By the end of 2008, P&G’s  unaudited annual sales  worldwide were  $83.5  billion,  and  the  company was one  of the  biggest  manufacturers of soaps  and  beauty  care  products in the world.

P&G’s corporate reach, however, has not gone unchallenged. Indeed, they have had  to alter everything from  their  original  logo to their  global business practices. In the United States, rumors erupted that  their  longstanding moon and stars logo that dated back to middle  of the 19th  century was satanic. The  company gradually transformed its logo to just its initials—a logo that remains one of the most  recognizable in the global marketplace. Far more problematic was the company’s venture into  feminine hygiene  products. In 1980,  after P&G’s  Rely Tampons were linked to toxic  shock syndrome, the  product was taken  off the  market. More  recently, the  company has  been  accused of what  is described as greenwashing—branding suspect detergents as environmentally sound. Above  all else, the  use  of animals to test beauty  products has outraged animal rights groups and other consumers, who  have  organized global  boycotts and  public  protests. In 1999,  the  company announced that  it would  reduce animal  testing  to  20  percent of its  consumer goods,  but this number did not include new products and thus  did little to resurrect the  company’s reputation. Indeed, during the  Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in California in 2005, the company lobbied against  efforts to implement a regulatory  framework for the  use  of chemicals in beauty  products that  would  require companies to report all toxic ingredients used  in their  products.

To be sure, P&G has put millions of dollars into researching alternatives to animal testing  in response to consumer pressure and to a March 2009 European ban on animal  testing. Thus, P&G may be a global powerhouse in the beauty  industry, but the corporation is not immune to everyday concerns about product safety and other ethical  business practices.

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