Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) is a producer of a wide range of consumer goods, founded in 1837 and based in Cincinnatti, Ohio.
William Procter made candles. James Gamble made soap. If they hadn't married a pair of sisters, met, and eventually decided to merge their eponymous companies (on Halloween, no less!), the world of consumer products might be very different today.
P&G's first big break was an ideal opportunity for advertising and brand-building known as the Civil War. Having won a contract to supply soap and other goods to the Union Army, P&G cultivated a nationwide audience of loyal customers. The arrival of the electric light soon made the candle side of the business less than ideal -- sorry, William -- but the company forged ahead quite well on the soap side, starting with the arrival of Ivory soap in 1880. (A largely smelly and unwashed nation rejoiced, presumably.)
P&G was often a pioneer in the consumer-products arena, in ways both benign -- the 1887 introduction of the nation's first profit-sharing plan for employees -- and insidious -- the 1924 inception of the world's first dedicated market research department. Over the decades, it has bought or introduced many of the world's most familiar brands, including Crest, the world's first fluoride-enhanced toothpaste, and that staple of landfills everywhere, Pampers, the world's first successful disposable diaper. Its early sponsorship of television programs during the fledgling years of the medium coined the term "soap operas;" until June 2008, when it sold off its TV company, it still produced As the World Turns and Guiding Light.
Procter & Gamble ranked 79th in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world's largest companies, with more than $76 billion in sales and more than $10 billion in profits. As of 2006, Advertising Age ranked Procter & Gamble the world's single biggest advertiser; its more than $8.5 billion in ad spending that year nearly doubled that of the closest runner-up, Unilever.
And no, its original logo -- a man's face on a crescent moon, surrounded by 13 stars, is not Satanic, as urban legends refuse to stop suggesting; it just happens to sound sort of vaguely like it might be a takeoff of one kinda psychedelic passage in the Book of Revelations. Yeah, we were kind of disappointed, too.
Book: “Rising Tide: Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble,” by Davis Dyer, Frederick Dalzell, and Rowena Olegario, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2004. See the review on Motley Fool's Books--Non-fiction board: 
Brands and Divisions
If you've ever been anywhere near a grocery store, you've probably given Procter & Gamble your money. Among many others, its vast array of familiar brands includes:
- Ivory soap
- Tide laundry detergent
- Crest toothpaste
- Dawn dish soap
- Pampers disposable diapers
- Always tampons
- Folgers coffee (slated to spin off into its own independent company sometime in 2008)
- Oral-B toothbrushes
- Gilette shaving equipment (following the 2005 purchase of Gilette)
- Bounty paper towels
- Charmin toilet paper
- IAMS pet food
- Duracell batteries
- Olay beauty products
- Downy fabric softener
Procter & Gamble is currently led by Chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley.
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