P&G: Woods’ future with Gillette uncertain

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CINCINNATI – The CEO of the Procter & Gamble Co. says he doesn’t know whether Tiger Woods will ever appear in another Gillette commercial, and everyone else wonders when he will next appear in a televised golf tournament.

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Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald

Bob McDonald, who is also chairman of the Cincinnati-based consumer-products company, says P&G wishes Woods the best in his efforts to work on family issues, after Woods’ public apology for infidelity last Friday.

“He doesn’t need to be distracted by us using his advertising, and we don’t need the distraction of us using the advertising, either,” McDonald told The Associated Press.

The comments came as others with ties to Woods await word on his plans to return to the PGA Tour. Meanwhile, WFTV.com in Orlando, Fla., says Woods and his wife, Elin, have offered a personal apology for media attention to parents of children at the preschool that 2-year-old daughter Sam Woods attends.

Woods said last week that he plans to return to golf but doesn’t know when, leaving the possibility of upcoming major Tour events such as the Masters running on television without him as a drawing card. Tournaments in which Woods isn’t playing generally suffer a drop in viewership and reduced advertising revenue, says Larry Novenstern, executive vice president of Optimedia.

CBS Sports President Sean McManus says golf does better economically with Woods but that it remains valuable for network TV.

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“We’re all looking forward to him coming back, but until then, we’re doing perfectly fine,” McManus said.

For Procter & Gamble, Woods still appears online among the “Gillette Champions,” but new commercials for a Gillette shaver and related products feature baseball’s Derek Jeter and tennis’ Roger Federer but not Woods. The three were in Gillette’s major advertising campaign last year.

Asked whether Woods will be in future advertising, McDonald replied: “I don’t know ... we’ve got lots of great spokespeople.”

P&G unit Gillette signed Woods to a contract in 2007; Gillette officials decline to say its length and value. AT&T Inc. and Accenture dropped Woods completely in the weeks after the first revelations about his marital infidelities. Gillette was among sponsors that de-emphasized him in their marketing.

Meanwhile, McDonald said P&G is pleased with returns so far on its biggest Olympic involvement yet, as a sponsor of the U.S. team in Vancouver, British Columbia, and also of individual athletes. He mentioned speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, who set a U.S. team record by winning his seventh Winter Olympics medal, appearing in Vicks cold medicine commercials.

With TV ratings up amid a strong U.S. team performance, P&G is running a “Thank you, Mom” advertising campaign that has included help with travel expenses for athletes’ mothers.

“I’ve loved it,” McDonald said, adding that P&G has gotten more positive attention and feedback than expected.

• • •

AP television writer Frazier Moore in New York contributed to this report.

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