P&G extends Olympic sponsorship, focusing on equality drive

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FILE - In this March 30, 2020, file photo, a man jogs past the Olympic rings in Tokyo. In a message delivered to IOC members, Friday, July 17, 2020, online, Tokyo organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori and CEO Toshiro Muto announced the competition schedule for next year's delayed Tokyo Olympics will remain almost identical to the one that would have been used this year. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

LONDON – Procter & Gamble will use its Olympic and Paralympic sponsorship to campaign for racial equality after extending its backing of the games through 2028.

The brutal death of George Floyd at the hands of police in May has reinforced to corporations like P&G the need to use their platforms for more than just selling products to consumers.

One of the world's largest advertisers, which owns brands including Gillette, Head & Shoulders and Pampers, P&G has been sponsoring the Olympics since the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

“We have found a way to make it good for business,” P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

“We want to now extend that to be both a force for growth and a force for good for the next eight years.”

The Tokyo Olympics are now a year away after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gestures such as taking a knee or raising a fist on a medal podium remain prohibited by the International Olympic Committee. But IOC President Thomas Bach has said the body’s athletes’ commission will be exploring ways opinions could be expressed at the games while the “Olympic spirit” is respected.

“That’s a big discussion the IOC is now having with the athletes, which I think is quite appropriate,” Pritchard said. “What’s the best way for self-expression in such a way that is positive and constructive and moves things forward.”