Shock and awe, P&G style

NOTE: SEE THE END OF THIS POST FOR AN IMPORTANT UPDATE.

Well, looks like one mystery of Cincinnati – what P&G will be doing with its television and media presence – might be solved. This shocking news was posted to Advocate.com this morning (h/t to We Love Soaps):

Procter & Gamble, the Fortune 500 company behind many beauty and household products and, until its final episodes this September, the soap opera As the World Turns, will appear with its new television production partner Walmart at a September political action summit hosted by the antigay Family Research Council.

Earlier this month, P&G and Walmart announced the two companies would partner to produce “family-friendly” television that highlights values “such as generosity, honesty and togetherness” lacking in most programming.

That partnership kicks off in April with a two-hour TV movie on NBC in which a single mother and her three children use P&G’s Duracell batteries for flashlights and feed their dog the company’s Iams pet food, P&G spokeswoman Jeannie Tharrington told Business Week.

The Family Research Council is now touting the partnership and announced Tuesday that the companies will be guests at its Values Voter Summit in September, which is cohosted by Liberty University and will feature a who’s who of conservative politicians and media pundits including Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sean Hannity.

Interestingly, news of P&G’s partnership with Walmart comes just months after its soap Guiding Light went off the air and the subsequent announcement that this year would mark the end of As the World Turns.

Both shows have prominently featured gay characters and relationships but have come under fire for watering down intimate moments between their gay couples.

Still, both shows have been honored with GLAAD Media Award nominations, and the “Otalia” romance on Guiding Light prompted star Crystal Chappell to create Venice, a Web series centered on a lesbian interior designer and her various love interests, including GL costar Jessica Leccia.

I’m at a loss for words.

P&G partnering with Wal-mart? Makes total sense. Wal-mart IS the retail game these days – everyone’s gotta play by their rules or go home. And family-friendly programming? There isn’t enough of it. All for it.

But to get into bed (pun intended) with the Family Research Council? Is a huge statement. And for every fan of Otalia and Nuke, it would be hard to interpret that statement as anything other than a giant, angry middle finger directed right at us.

EDITED TO ADD: P&G told Advocate.com that it was NOT appearing at the FRC summit. Let me share what was posted:

“Procter & Gamble has a strong, long-standing corporate commitment to diversity and inclusion—it is deeply rooted in our company’s culture,” P&G spokesman Brent Miller said in a statement to The Advocate. “P&G highly values individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures and is recognized for its diversity practices, including its efforts in GBLT diversity. P&G remains committed to developing family-friendly programming that appeals to the diversity of our consumers around the world. P&G is not planning to participate in the Values Voter Summit 2010 as suggested in the report.”

The press release appears to have come specifically from the FRC. You can read more here.

No apologies here (the original post was based on a press release) but I am happy to set the record straight. As I said above, I support the family-friendly programming initiative.


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