P&G Comes Under Fire for Advertising on Russian TV
In response to virulently anti-gay rhetoric on Russia’s most watched news program, American multinational consumer goods company Procter and Gamble has recently come under fire for its role as Russian television’s largest advertiser. A recent Change.org petition has called on the maker of numerous products ranging from Tide to Pampers to Gillette, to pull its advertising from Russian state-owned television.
As reported on Towleroad, Deputy General Director of the Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, Dmitri Kisilev who also anchors Russia’s most watched television news program, recently dehumanized LGBTs on his television program broadcast by the state-owned network Rossiya 1. Kisilev’s program is reported to be viewed by 75 percent of urban Russians.
His translated comments state, "I think that just imposing fines on gays for homosexual propaganda among teenagers is not enough. They should be banned from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts, in case of the automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life."
According to the Wall Street Journal, "barely an hour goes by on Russia’s biggest TV networks without at least one ad from Procter & Gamble." And as the Change.org petition states, "the money P&G spends purchasing ads on those networks goes directly into the pockets of the Russian government and finances Putin’s bloody crusade against LGBT people."
The petition, addressed to P&G President and CEO A.G Lafley goes on to say, "Your company has long been known as one that values all people and supports LGBT equality in the United States. But P&G’s concern for human rights must extend beyond America’s borders. That’s why you must immediately pull your advertising from all Russia’s state-owned TV stations."
This may cause further complications for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi as P&G also spends $100 million for worldwide marketing rights over a four-year cycle, covering Winter and Summer Games. The Olympics sponsorship is something P&G considers money well spent. In a 2012 report by Reuters, the company’s global brand building officer Marc Pritchard was quoted as saying that the sponsorship will generate "an extra $500 million in extra sales over the course of the year."
Of P&G’s image in the U.S., the Change.org petition states that the company "enjoys an LGBT-friendly image, with a 90 percent score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index." The petition further quotes from P&G’s website "Companies like P&G are a force in the world... with this stature comes both responsibility and opportunity. Our responsibility is to be an ethical corporate citizen-but our opportunity is something far greater..."
Whether Procter and Gamble will choose to extend its ethical obligations beyond U.S. borders remains to be seen.