P&G was born soon after two men were married in 1837 to two sisters. Their new, shared father-in-law encouraged them to become partners in a soap and candle business.
By 1859, P&G had sales of more than $1 million and employed 80 people. Four years later, P&G began winning contracts to supply the Union Army with soap and candles during the American Civil War. Those soldiers went home, taking with them familiarity with P&G’s products. Brilliant!
By the end of 2008, the sales of that unassuming little company had grown to more than $83 billion to customers in some 140 countries, employing almost 140,000 people in 80 countries.
Billion Dollar Brands
In 2008, a total of 29 of its 300 brands generated sales of more than $1 billion. These include highly-visible products such as Tide laundry detergent, Crest toothpaste, Duracell batteries, Pringles potato chips and Vicks medicines, among a host of other well-know brands.
Like many companies of its size, P&G has encountered an abundance of derision. Despite the criticism, the positive side includes a number of impressive achievements. P&G has been listed consistently among the best companies to work for and ranked high on lists of the most admired companies, both in North America and the world.
In 2008, P&G ranked number 2 among the best companies for leaders by Chief Executive magazine, number 6 among Fortune magazine’s most admired companies, and number 12 in Business Week’s top 50 most admired companies.
The company has a long history of earning such allocates. For example, as far back as 1887, while some employers continued to see employees as necessary, disposable evils, P&G recognized the vital role of its employees played in the success of the company. It introduced a profit-sharing program for all employees, one of the earliest companies to do so.
In 2008, P&G spent more than $2.5 billion on advertising, mostly promoting its 300+ products. This huge ad budget earned it recognition as the largest advertiser in the world.
World’s Largest Advertiser
Little wonder choruses of cheers when up, particularly within the advertising industry and television networks, when the company announced in early 2009 that it was planning no major cutbacks in advertising, unlike many other companies in the financial services, automotive and most segments of the consumer products industry.
Behind the advertising is another, lesser-known dimension of P&G. Many in the advertising industry credit P&G with originating the so-called ‘soap opera’. Credit to P&G dates back to the early years of radio when P&G became one of the largest advertisers and radio producers, promoting one of it’s best known products, that as a result, became the famous Ivory soap.
In fact, P&G became not just a major sponsor of soap operas, but set up its own production subsidiary to produce a number of series. With the advent of television, P&G’s production arm produced and sponsored the long-running series, ‘The Young and the Restless’, ‘As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light’. P&G Productions also produced a string of other series, including ‘Another World’, ‘The Edge of Night’ and ‘Search for Tomorrow’.