Toronto, Canada – CHICAGO (Reuters) - Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer said on Friday it would not use Tiger Woods, who has admitted to marital infidelity, in its advertising in "certain markets" to respect the golfer's desire for privacy.
"The partnership with Tiger Woods will continue, but we will downscale the use of his image in certain markets for a period of time, depending on his decision about returning to professional golf," Tag Heuer's Chief Executive Jean-Christophe Babin said in a statement.
The company, a unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said it was standing by the world's No. 1 golfer, who last week said he was taking an indefinite break from pro golf.
Babin told the Swiss daily Le Matin that the company would no longer use Woods' image in its U.S. advertising for an indefinite period, preferring to use other celebrities like actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
"We must take into account the sensitivity of some consumers in relation to recent events," the paper quoted Babin as saying.
Tag Heuer, which previously said it was assessing its relationship with Woods, became the latest company to distance itself from the golfer.
On Sunday, Accenture Plc ended its endorsement deal with Woods, and Procter & Gamble Co's Gillette has dropped him from its marketing. AT&T Inc has said it is assessing its relationship with Woods.
Woods, 33, admitted last week to "infidelity" in his marriage to Elin Nordegren as allegations of multiple extramarital affairs surfaced.
The golf icon and world's first billionaire athlete, said he would take an indefinite break from pro golf to try to save his marriage.
It has been estimated that Woods earned about $100 million a year in endorsements.
Tag Heuer described its relationship with Woods, who began endorsing the company's products in 2002, as having "always been extremely professional and productive." The company said it would continue to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Nike Inc, Berkshire Hathaway's NetJets unit and Upper Deck said they had no plans to end their deals with him. Developers in Dubai said they were committed to completing a Tiger Woods golf course project there.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman)