P&G to Still Mail Samples Despite Scare in Slovakia

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Procter & Gamble has not canceled any sample mailers despite an anthrax scare in Slovakia this week involving 70,000 Always maxi pads.


Spokeswoman Martha Depenbrock did not know of any other incidents of Proctor & Gamble samples generating fears of anthrax attacks in the United States or elsewhere. The mailing in Slovakia did not cause widespread panic, Depenbrock said, but Slovak Surema, the ad agency in charge of the promotion, halted the campaign in response to public concerns. The mail pieces bore the agency's name and address, Depenbrock said.


After receiving several calls from consumers who received the packages, police checked the contents of some of them and determined they were "completely safe advertisement of hygienic products."


Slovak Surema said it was just an unhappy coincidence for a campaign that had been planned three months ago.


"But I can also understand those who were scared," said representative Rene Spir. "In your mailbox, you find a thick envelope you did not expect, with your address written in ornamental letters, and there is apparently something soft in it. Who would guess immediately that there could be something as innocent as a Maxi-Pad inside?"


The campaign met a similar fate in neighboring Czech Republic, where dozens of "suspicious mail deliveries" also were reported, Spir said.


Proctor & Gamble outsources its mailing to marketing agencies, from which it requires compliance with its security standards. The company is reviewing those standards and is considering long-term changes to its marketing practices, Depenbrock said.


"Certainly in the times in which we're living, there's increased sensitivity to this type of thing," she said. "It's something the company is looking at."


Senior reporter Scott Hovanyetz contributed to this report.


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