‘Moon and Stars’
In 1837, William Procter and James Gamble joined forces to form a soap company, Procter & Gamble (P&G). Originally based in Cincinnati, Ohio, today the company is regarded as one of the world’s leading consumer goods conglomerates. It is the name behind a wide range of household brands, such as Pampers, Tide, Ariel and Wella.
From the 1860s, Procter & Gamble sported a logo that comprised of 13 stars to represent the original American colonies. In an era when many people could not read, the mark became a valuable identifier of P&G products. In 1882, when the trademark was officially registered with the U.S. Patent Office, a line drawing of the popular Man in the Moon motif was added. In 1932, the illustration was modified to include flowing white hair and a beard (which curled off to a point in each direction).
However, by the early 1980s, P&G started receiving complaints about the presence of satanic symbols in their enigmatic logo. Apparently, a ram can be found at the tip of the figure’s beard; and a mirror image of the number 666 (or the reflected number of the beast) is inscribed by three small curls directly under his chin.
P&G publicly announced that the rumours were totally false and successfully prosecuted those responsible for spreading them – usually small rival household product manufacturers based in America’s Bible Belt states. As the absurd accusations of P&G’s connections to Satanism continued, the company commissioned a restyle of their beleaguered trademark in 1991. This streamlined version, by Lipson Alport Glass & Associates, purged the offensive curls and ram-horns – but failed to quell the persistent stories.
According to the late Alan Fletcher: “A vivid imagination could just about conjure up a ram, but linking the stars and curls to form a mirror image of the unholy digits requires a dedicated sense of fantasy. Anyway the rumours crossed the Atlantic and slips of paper were circulated at Baptist meetings with the improbable suggestion that Satan is ‘creeping into your kitchen’.”
In the mid-1990s, the Moon and Stars symbol was quietly sacrificed; and replaced with a neutral typographic treatment of Procter & Gamble’s initials (by Peterson & Blyth). The new logo is intentionally bland and quite unlikely to stir up fantastical images. It performs better as a branded-pluralistic identity, and doesn’t compete with the individual identities of P&G’s products.