published Friday, May 9th, 2014

Detergent pulled in Germany over neo-Nazi code

  • photo
    An Ariel liquid detergent bottle with an "18"on it sits Friday in Berlin. Detergent manufacturer Procter & Gamble has kicked up a froth in Germany after unintentionally placing a neo-Nazi code on promotional packages for Ariel washing powder. The use of Nazi slogans in public is banned in Germany, which neo-Nazis often try to circumvent by using codes. '18' stands for Adolf Hitler.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

BERLIN — Procter & Gamble has apologized for "any false connotations" after stirring anger in Germany for unintentionally placing a neo-Nazi code on promotional packages for its Ariel laundry detergent.

Outraged shoppers had posted pictures online of Ariel powder boxes featuring a white soccer jersey with a large number "88." The number is sensitive because far-right extremists in Germany often use it as a code to skirt a ban on the use of Nazi slogans in public: since "H'' is the eighth letter of the alphabet, "88" represents the phrase "Heil Hitler." Similarly, "18" is used to stand for "A.H." or Adolf Hitler.

Procter & Gamble acknowledged Friday that the number was "unintentionally ambiguous."

"We very much regret if there are any false associations and distance ourselves clearly from any far-right ideology," company spokeswoman Gabi Hassig said in a statement. The number "88" was intended to show how many loads of laundry buyers would be able to do with one package.

Haessig said the company has stopped shipping the offending powder, as well as a liquid detergent that was being promoted as "Ariel 18." The number also represented the number of loads that could be done, the company said.

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