FTC's Majoras Joins P&G as General Counsel

Will Work on Global Antitrust and Litigation Practice

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Procter & Gamble Co. has landed a major addition to its legal team: Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras.
Deborah Platt Majoras has left her role as chair of the FTC for P&G.
Deborah Platt Majoras has left her role as chair of the FTC for P&G. Credit: AP

Ms. Majoras will join P&G June 1 as VP-general counsel, its No. 2 slot in the department, a P&G spokeswoman said. Ms. Majoras will report to Stephen W. Jemison, who is set to take over as P&G's chief legal officer on the same date. He's replacing James J. Johnson, who P&G announced earlier this month will retire.

"Her primary responsibilities will be for the company's global antitrust and litigation practice areas," the P&G spokeswoman said of Ms. Majoras.

Successor to Jemison?
But P&G declined to comment on speculation in TheDeal.com, where the move was first reported, that Ms. Majoras will be in line to succeed Mr. Jemison, 56, upon his own retirement in a few years. "It's probably too early to discuss any plans like that," the spokeswoman said. "Deborah has a terrific track record in public and private practice," she said.

Under Ms. Majoras, the FTC ruled on P&G's $57 billion acquisition of Gillette Co. in 2005, the company's biggest takeover ever. The approval required P&G to divest oral-care brands Rembrandt and Crest SpinBrush and deodorant brands Right Guard, Soft and Dri and Dry Idea. But Ms. Majoras recused herself from the matter because her husband, John, works for the law firm Jones Day, which was involved in the case.

Also under Ms. Majoras, the FTC turned down a request by the advocacy group Commercial Alert to investigate the word-of-mouth marketing industry, including P&G's Tremor program for teens, for alleged deceptive marketing practices.

But the staff opinion did say that in cases where marketers use "sponsored consumers" to spread messages, "it would appear the relationship between the marketer and the consumer would be deceptive unless the relationship were clear from the context." P&G has said members of its Tremor teen and Vocalpoint mom marketing panels aren't paid, though they do receive free samples, coupons and in some cases opportunities to participate in focus groups for money.

Google conflict?
Ms. Majoras' tenure at the FTC has come amid growing worry about identity theft and privacy. Two consumer groups, upset that the FTC approved Google's $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick without imposing limits, have questioned whether Ms. Majoras should have voted on the pact.

Ms. Majoras' husband's law firm represented Google in Europe on the deal. Jones Day has said its role was related only to European Union approval of the deal and that Mr. Majoras had no role in lobbying and didn't benefit financially from Google's use of the firm.

The consumer groups have filed Freedom of Information requests asking about contacts between Jones Day and the FTC. An FTC spokeswoman denied today that Ms. Majoras' departure had anything to do with the Google matter. Ms. Majoras' term was set to expire in September.

The FTC in a statement called Ms. Majoras a "tough enforcer and a vigorous proponent of empowering consumers with facts about marketplace risks and frauds and the benefits of a competitive marketplace."

In a statement, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) called Ms. Majoras' leadership of the FTC and commitment to protecting competition and consumers "highly commendable."

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Contributing: Ira Teinowitz
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