Company Denies Using Nancy Reagan’s Name For Profit in ‘Just Say No’ Campaign
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Procter and Gamble Co. official denies that the corporation has used first lady Nancy Reagan’s name for profit in its effort to support her ″Just Say No″ program to stop drug abuse among youngsters.
Gerald S. Gendell, P&G’s public affairs manager, said from Cincinnati on Friday that the allegations made by Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House drug committee, and two former employees of the antidrug program were ″unjustified, self-serving and without merit.″
Gendell said the remarks by Tom Adams, who resigned as president of the Just Say No foundation last week, were ″very disappointing″ in that ″he now takes this action in this vengeful, unjustified attack on Procter and Gamble, placing the very organization he expresses concern for in jeopardy.″
Rangel, with Adams and Joan Brann, former vice president of the foundation, at his side, criticized the exclusive use and alleged commercializat ion of the first lady’s name by Procter and Gamble in the antidrug program.
″I don’t think anyone has the exclusive right to the first lady’s picture, the White House and the kids that write in,″ Rangel told reporters at a news conference at the Capitol. ″I would like Procter and Gamble to say this program makes sense. We will support it, but I don’t want them to say other companies can’t join.″
Gendell said the exclusivity with the antidrug program was for the period of a particular promotion which, he said, is standard procedure in any cause- related marketing effort.
W.W. Abbott of Procter and Gamble, who is chairman of the foundation, asked Adams and Brann to resign. Gendell said Abbott asked Adams to resign because when Abbott took over the foundation job in February, he had an audit done which revealed ″a major financial and management problem″ -- the organization was more than $600,000 in debt and it was threatened with a lawsuit for an additional alleged debt of $130,000.
Adams would not accept responsibility for these financial problems even though he was the foundation’s chief executive since its formation, Gendell said. He said he did not know until Friday that Brann had resigned.
″I would like Wallace Abbott to resign, return the program to its grass roots and then apologize to the children and parents,″ Adams said.
Adams said he does not believe Mrs. Reagan was involved in the exclusive contract with Procter and Gamble which he said donated $150,000 to the program. ″It was her chief of staff,″ he said.
Jack L. Courtemanche, the first lady’s chief of staff, was not available immediately for comment.
Abbott also was not available but Gendell said: ″The allegations by Congressman Rangel and Mr. Adams about Procter and Gamble and the Just Say No program are unjustified, self-serving and totally without merit.″
The corporation is involved in the program, Gendell said, ″because we feel it is a very worthwhile undertaking which is doing work in helping prevent drug abuse.″
″The company’s efforts and substantial financial contributions have been directed at trying to save this program, not take it over as claimed by Mr. Adams,″ he said. ″We also strongly deny the allegations that we have in any way abused the Just Say No program. Procter and Gamble’s participation had the full support of Mrs. Reagan and the White House staff. Any use of her name was cleared in advance.″
He also said Procter and Gamble has given the program more than $150,000 which was for a campaign last year. He said the company has committed $250,000 to retire the foundation’s debt of $600,000 and given $150,000 this year.
Rangel said he does not believe the White House had anything to do with the commercialization of the drug program, in which blank donation pledges to assist the antidrug foundation were included in a mailing to 48 million households along with coupons for Proctor and Gamble products, such as soap, cooking oil, coffee and diapers.
The New York congressman said he is disturbed that the foundation, and its volunteers, are being used ″to increase sales of Proctor and Gamble products.″
Rangel gave out a March 23, 1987, letter from Procter and Gamble to the foundation in which the company said all competition by other retailers must be eliminated. ″Any breech of this agreement,″ the letter said, ″will preclude Procter and Gamble’s interest in supporting Just Say No in years to come.″
The letter also says that the company was excited about teaching youngsters to stay drug free, but ″we remind you that our primary objective is build the business.″
″Clearly, it was never the first lady’s intention to allow a soap company to use this program and the children of our nation for commercial profit,″ said Rangel.