Procter & Gamble vs Unilever: A Case of Corporate Espionage

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : BECG036 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 500 ;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Case Length : 16 Pages
Period : 2001 - 2004
Pub. Date : 2004
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Procter & Gamble, Unilever
Industry : FMCG's
Countries : USA


The case discusses the corporate espionage controversy involving two of the world's largest consumer product companies, P&G and Unilever, in the early 21st century. It gives an overview of the concepts of competitive intelligence and corporate espionage and examines the differences between them. It then outlines the evolution of corporate espionage over the centuries and examines the reasons for its increasing use. Next, the case details the covert operation conducted by P&G to gain competitive information about Unilever's shampoo business in the US. It examines the steps taken by P&G's top management after discovering the secret operation, to settle the matter with Unilever. Finally, it talks about Unilever's response to the incident, its settlement demands, and summarizes the lessons that can be learnt from this episode.


Understand the concept of competitive intelligence (CI) and its need vis--vis the concept of corporate espionage

Examine the evolution of corporate espionage and its impact on companies worldwide with special reference to the US


  Page No.
A Shocking Revelation 1
Competitive Intelligence vs. Corporate Espionage 2
Evolution of Corporate Espionage 3
P&G and Unilever 5
P&G's Secret Operation 6
Lessons to be Learnt 7
Exhibits 9


Corporate, espionage, consumer product, companies, P&G, Unilever, 21st century, competitive intelligence, corporate espionage, differences, evolution, covert, operation, competitive information, shampoo business, US, settlement demands

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