Gillette to phase out ads featuring Tiger

Tiger Woods participates in a promotion for the Gillette Fusion Power Gamer razor during the Gillette-EA Sports Champions of Gaming Finals in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 3, 2009.

Tiger Woods participates in a promotion for the Gillette Fusion Power Gamer razor during the Gillette-EA Sports Champions of Gaming Finals in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 3, 2009.

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Reader poll

When will Tiger Woods return to the PGA Tour?

  • San Diego Open (Jan. 28-31) 2%
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 25-28) 25%
  • Masters (April 8-11) 20%
  • U.S. Open (June 17-20) 10%
  • After the U.S. Open 5%
  • He will not return in 2010 38%

2218 total votes.

NEW YORK – A major sponsor of Tiger Woods' will phase the world’s most valuable athlete out of its advertisements while he takes time off to repair his personal life.

“As Tiger takes a break from the public eye, we will support his desire for privacy by limiting his role in our marketing programs,” Gillette said Saturday.

The announcement by the Procter & Gamble division marks the first major sponsor of the superstar athlete and corporate pitchman to distance itself from Woods.

The news comes a day after Woods announced an indefinite leave from golf and public life to repair his marriage. Woods has been embroiled in a public scandal for two weeks since a car accident exposed Woods’ alleged marital infidelity.

Woods is the pitchman for brands ranging from AT&T to Accenture to Nike. His array of endorsements helped him become the first sports star to earn $1 billion.

Nike, which built its $650 million golf business around Woods, said late Friday that it supports his decision. AT&T said it is evaluating its relationship with Woods.

Woods will be phased out from Gillette’s television and print advertising, and from public appearances and other efforts linking the two entities together, Gillette spokesman Damon Jones said.

“This is supporting his desire to step out of the public eye, and we’re going to support him by helping him to take a lower profile,” he said.

The company has had a contract with Woods since 2007. Jones declined to provide further details, including length and value, of the contract.

Woods hasn’t been seen in a prime-time television commercial since a Gillette spot on Nov. 29, according to the research firm Nielsen Co.

Jones said that was because golf is off-season, so the company is promoting new products such as Gillette Fusion MVP with football and baseball stars instead, because those seasons are more current.

As any ads featuring Woods expire, they will not be renewed. Jones said that did not mean the company was severing its ties with Woods. There had been no upcoming scheduled public appearances for Woods, he said.

He declined to comment on when the company would resume including Woods in its marketing, and would not say whether that would be linked with the timing of Woods' comeback, when and if he decides to resume playing golf.

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