Procter & Gamble Co. is having a devil of a time with rumors about its "man in the moon" corporate logo symbol, and the giant Cincinnati-based soap and detergent maker's public relations office isn't a bit bewitched.
This week, the rumor is the crescent-moon-faced logo with a cluster of stars is a symbol of witchcraft, Satan or both. This rumor, which P&G is anxious to exorcise, has spread among members of fundamentalist and born-again churches.
Mary Parson, a company public relations spokeswoman in Cincinnati, said it was too early to tell whether sales had been hurt. Earlier she denied all rumors about the symbol, but today she said the company would rather remain mum from now on.
"It's not doing us any good," she said. "To talk about it just spreads the rumor some more." But when asked if the witchcraft-Satan rumor and an earlier rumor linking the company to the Moonies had spread outside of Minnesota, she said, "We've gotten several questions on it."
The Moonie version surfaced last week. It stemmed from the crescent moon on the logo -- a logo that was registered as a trademark in 1882, long before the Moonies rose.
The Minneapolis Tribune has reported that for the past six weeks P&G hs been the victim of a widely circulated story that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his followers control the company and are skimming off 75 percent of its profits.
The company, ranking 20th in Fortune Magazine's list of the top 500 corporations, reported 1978 profits of $511 million.
P&G said neither Moon nor his church has any stock in the company.
This week, P&G denied the current witch-devil version, a separate and opposite rumor. The Minneapolis Tribune traced one of the sources of the occult tale to Paul Martin, director of the high school club division of the Youth for Christ Office in Willmar, Minn.
According to Martin, the P&G logo is a symbol associated with witchcraft and Satan, and he offered as evidence his belief it could be found on a satanic church in St. Paul. This was a reference to a plain crescent moon on the Gnostica Bookstore, which denied any connections with P&G, devils or witches.
Martin said the person who brought the logo story to Willmar was Jim Peters, a St. Paul fundamentalist and crusader against rock music. Peters said his main target was rock music, and he mentioned the logo only in passing in his twice-a-month "music seminars" in Minnesota. He said his main complaint is that P&G sponsored TV programs containing sex and profanity.
Peters said he wasn't accusing the company of witchcraft or of sponsoring Satan, but said his Zion Christian Life Center wanted to know "what's going on," and the company has replied to inquiries with only a "standard form letter."
He said he had found an exact copy of the logo, identified as a sign for a witches coven, in a book by E. A. Wallis Duge called "Amulets and Superstitions."
The Minneapolis Tribune said two of its reporters read the book cover-to-cover and could not find the reference.
According to Parson, the saga of the bedeviled logo evolved almost accidentally from identification marks put on shipping crates -- changing from a nonreligious cross mark to a rough star to a star in a circle, and then to 13 stars representing the 13 orginal American colonies. She said someone in the company added the crescent moon face on the right side.