Sunday, April 22, 2001

What's the Buzz?

P&G tries to quell Arab boycotts

        Procter & Gamble Co. is trying to clean up some folks' impression of its Ariel brand detergent in Egypt.

        Palestinian protesters targeted Ariel soap for a boycott last fall after rumors began circulating that the brand was somehow linked to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was the opposition leader in Israel at the time, P&G officials said.

        Ariel, the foreign version of the No. 1 U.S. brand of detergent, Tide, is one of many products that have been boycotted by Palestinian supporters trying to stem Western support for Israel.

        Pepsi became known as the “P-ay E-very P-enny to S-ave I-srael” drink, asays the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo.

        P&G says the boycott of Ariel by anti-Israeli protesters is completely unwarranted and that the brand has no connection to any political faction.

        “We have confidence that consumers will remain loyal to our P&G brands,” said Wendy Jacques, a P&G spokeswoman.

        Company officials say the boycotts seem to be coming to an end.

        “There is now a strong current public opinion against the calls for a boycott, because the boycott is adverse to Egypt's economic interests,” Ms. Jacques said.

        But the Cincinnati consumer-goods giant apparently is maintaining its vigilance in the area by conducting monthly market surveys to measure boycott awareness, according to the trade publication Ad Age Global.

        The company also has had meetings with local newspapers and is running a series of TV ads promoting Ariel as a locally made brand to squash any latent misconceptions about the brand, Ad Age Global said.


— Randy Tucker

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