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Procter & Gamble boycott lifted as company changes ad practices

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A boycott of Procter & Gamble, maker of such products as Crest toothpaste, Tide detergent and Pampers diapers, has been suspended after a pro-family group’s review of the company’s behavior.

The American Family Association, with the support of Focus on the Family, has lifted the boycott it started last fall because Procter & Gamble has ceased advertising heavily on pro-homosexual television shows like “Will & Grace” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” as well as on websites like gayworks.com.

“They have done enough to show us that they are no longer promoting the homosexual lifestyle,” AFA President Tim Wildmon told Baptist Press April 19.

The boycott was based in part on Procter & Gamble’s support of a ballot measure in its hometown of Cincinnati to repeal a 1993 city charter amendment prohibiting homosexual rights laws. A Procter & Gamble executive was granted leave to run the campaign and the company donated $40,000 to the effort, according to the Associated Press.

But since AFA’s boycott started, the executive who was granted a leave of absence is no longer with the company.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Procter & Gamble is one of the nation’s leading companies in supporting the idea behind same-sex ‘marriage,'” Randy Sharp, AFA’s director of special projects, told BP last fall.

Wildmon said he did not expect the boycott to end so soon, but he is not surprised that Procter & Gamble is not admitting the boycott affected their advertising policies or their bottom line.

“Most of the time these companies are very stubborn,” he said. “Procter & Gamble is not going to admit that they’ve changed their ways because of our boycott; … that’s just not how most companies operate. But that’s OK because we’re more interested in their actions, and their actions show that they’re being more responsible with their advertising dollars.”

In a brief statement to Baptist Press, Procter & Gamble said they are “pleased to learn” AFA has lifted the boycott.

“P&G has always focused on serving our consumers and that’s where our focus remains,” the statement said.

Communication outlets such as the Internet and radio played a large role in the success of the boycott, Wildmon said.

“We have over 2 million people on our Internet e-mail alert system, and Focus on the Family did a show on this on the radio,” he said. “We have 200 stations on our American Family Radio networks. So when you combine all that, word was definitely getting around. I’m sure it cut into P&G’s profits at least slightly.”

In total, nearly 400,000 supporters signed an AFA-sponsored pledge to boycott Procter & Gamble.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said last fall that he would support the boycott because he believes in being a good steward of his resources.

Before the boycott, AFA said, Procter & Gamble was the leading sponsor of programming that normalized homosexuality, giving more than $8.2 million in just six months to shows such as Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

If the company were to resume such business practices, Wildmon said AFA would re-examine the issue and consider another boycott.

Pro-homosexual business practices also prompted AFA to initiate a boycott of Disney, which Southern Baptists officially joined in 1997 along with Focus on the Family and other groups. That boycott is still in effect, although Wildmon told BP his group plans to reassess Disney’s status in the coming months.

“Like Procter & Gamble, Disney is not as offensive a company as they were a few years back, so we’re taking a strong look at where that boycott might go as well right now,” he said. “[Disney chief] Michael Eisner is leaving in the fall, so we’re going to have some discussions with Southern Baptist leaders and Focus on the Family and others about that particular boycott.”

Wildmon expressed gratitude for Disney’s decision to make a major motion picture based on Christian apologist C.S. Lewis’ famous children’s series “The Chronicles of Narnia,” scheduled for release later this year.

“I haven’t previewed it, but I think it’s a great idea by Disney to produce something that has a Christian theme to it. I think it will be well-received and make them a lot of money. It’s a good idea,” he said.

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  • Erin Curry