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Accenture Fails To Be A Tiger

After six years of riding on the coattails of the world's greatest golfer and two weeks of controversy, Accenture summarily dumps the man who put it on the map. At this moment, all its competitors are sighing with relief, as none of them had an answer to Accenture's extraordinarily successful partnership with Tiger. Do I think its decision was premature? You bet. Do I think it was wrong? Time will tell.

This much I know: the Tiger Woods-Accenture partnership was as good as it gets for brand campaigns. Launching in 2003 with the umbrella tagline "High Performance. Delivered," Tiger symbolized high performance delivered like no other man alive. In 2006, Accenture took its focus on performance one step further by offering up the wisdom it gained by studying 500 high-performing companies. The results of this study were made available to clients and prospects, elevating the campaign beyond mere branding to something of genuine value.

At this point it also evolved its theme line to the fateful "We know what it takes to be a Tiger." I guarantee you that up until two weeks ago, every Accenture employee around the world loved being associated with the greatest golfer on the planet. His standard of excellence -- his clutch performance tournament after tournament -- undoubtedly inspired Accenture employees to deliver day after day. Accenture stands alone in its category, thanks to Tiger. Now that it has dropped Tiger, it is unlikely to find a campaign that will score (pun intended) on so many levels.

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For the most part, I'm not a fan of brand campaigns because they offer very little genuine value to the consumer. Most people tune them out because they talk at the consumer and don't encourage a dialog. That said, a few cut through because of the massive media weight they receive and/or the magnetic presence of a celebrity like Tiger. Of those types of brand campaigns, believe it or not, my favorite was Accenture's use of Tiger Woods.

Undoubtedly, the Tiger campaign hastened the demise of BearingPoint, whose sponsorship of Phil Mickelson paled in comparison. Tiger out-drove Phil on and off the course. It wasn't even competitive. Accenture is on the map. BearingPoint is out of business. And both were started within a year of each other. When BearingPoint started to go downhill, its consultants simply walked out with its clients because neither had allegiance to the brand. The Accenture brand, on the other hand, is bigger than any single consultant, thanks in large part to its association with Tiger.

Admittedly, the Tiger brand is now tarnished. Can Tiger redeem himself? Of course. America loves comeback stories. Look at Robert Downey, Jr. Look at Hugh Grant. Look at A-Rod. He just needs to take a page out of The Scarlet Letter, the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic in which the heroine is forced to wear an A for Adulterer on her sweater but through her good deeds transforms it into A for Able and ultimately A for Angel.

I fully expect Tiger to regain the good graces of his golfing fans sometime soon. While I can't predict how long this will take, I can say with certainty that the A on his chest will no longer stand for Accenture.

9 comments about "Accenture Fails To Be A Tiger ".
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  1. Nicholas Theodore from Self-Employed, December 16, 2009 at 5:15 a.m.

    Tiger's loss is his own doing. No sympathy.
    However, if and when he regains the good graces of of his fans and redeems himself, Tiger will again be marketable.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 16, 2009 at 9:40 a.m.

    Man, Tiger did not have an affair. He did not have a drug dependency. He was not caught 1 time with a hooker and cheat on his girlfriend. The little car run in is bubkas. He will certainly have a chance to prove himself on the golf course and people will watch. Be associated with him and his brand to move it to the most profitable side, that may not be as forthcoming if at all on some. What he will win in escapades is nothing compared to what he will lose and deservedly lose. All of his own creation. If he wants all privacy, skip the endorsements and rewards and don't sell himself. Hard choices, but choices none the less.

  3. Michael Strassman from WGBH, December 16, 2009 at 10:45 a.m.

    Tiger did not merely harm himself and spit on a marriage, he has irrevocably harmed two innocent children whom he's responsible for. This is the height of irresponsibility and totally reprehensible behavior. The stupidity, callousness, arrogance, and irresponsibility on display here are nothing I would want to associate my brand with, especially one built on trust and professionalism. Tiger deserves everything he's getting and likely more, and brands positioned on any dimension that implies prudence, intelligence, or trust have cause to drop him like a rock. And 'sticking by' the man holds no moral authority in my book...it's not as if there is any doubt about his guilt at this point. Asserting the primacy of redemption diminishes the grave harm he's done and, it seems to me, is a moral cop-out on doing the right thing in the first place, as well as a way our celebrity-obsessed society gives famous people a free pass, so that we can rationalize our continued idolizing of them.

  4. Mickey Lonchar from Quisenberry, December 16, 2009 at 5:16 p.m.

    So who's the biggest loser in the Tiger affair? Not who you think. Check it out here: http://www.quisenblog.com/

  5. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., December 16, 2009 at 5:33 p.m.

    To Strassman from Digitas - Get off your high moral horse, the guy is making millions for wacking a small white ball across the lawn, what do you expect when our culture makes heroes out of Sports figures? The last time we (as Americans) played this morality card we ended up with 8 years of Bubba in the White House. How come it's always the guys with something to hide that make the biggest stink? "Asserting the primacy of redemption diminishes the grave harm he's done" Whoa, dude - nobody died. In Europe this would be a non-issue.

  6. Michael Strassman from WGBH, December 16, 2009 at 9:31 p.m.

    to Jonathan Mirow:
    quote: "what do you expect when our culture makes heroes out of Sports figures?"...moral decline is no excuse for pathetic behavior. More to the point on a marketing site, if integrity, intelligence, and trust are implicit in your brand positioning-which it is in the case of Accenture (and with Tiger for at least 2 out of 3)-then I'd say you have a problem when you get caught cheating on your wife and kids with cocktail waitresses and call girls. Hell, Tiger's got a problem with the intelligence part, having been stupid enough to give out his only cell phone number. Sure, Gatorade and Nike should probably stick by Tiger, especially since their overwhelmingly young male target probably half-admires Woods for getting some on the side, but safe to say brands with more gravitas ought to think twice. And as for my high horse, having never fallen off of it, I think I'll stay right there.

  7. Kevin Horne from Verizon, December 17, 2009 at 2:08 a.m.

    "Do I think it was wrong? Time will tell."

    Waffle.

    The only reason it took Accenture so long to make this (proper) decision was that the partners had to determine what % of the customer base were "aw c'mon we all make a few mistakes,,,damn he can sure hit that ball a ton" types of people.

    They didn't do it by guessing.

  8. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, December 18, 2009 at 3:11 a.m.

    Michael: Whether as a marketer or a Republican, note that you admitted that there is a huge population of young males who don't like the concept of monogamy. While Tiger certainly never deserved the kind of money he was getting for being supposedly "squeaky clean," and while he never should have married someone under his circumstances, and while I have better taste in women than he does - the moralist rhetoric simply causes young males to want to vote for (or buy the brands of) the opposite of whom moralists vote for or try to sell.

    This isn't meant to argue or insult (I agree with you that Tiger blew it PR-wise) but to show that a huge population of men exists that will *never* agree with moralistic phraseology.

    And part of the reason is because most of us know some 18 year old coed who could set up a sting to meet up with someone who speaks about "morals" and seduce him and expose him. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel if a non-profit org was set up by some mischievous coeds to target and seduce men who brag about and politicize loyalty to their wives.

    Tiger is the best example of this - he was selling the public an image of loyal husband. If he loses the young male population, it is because they don't respect that he felt he had to do that in the first place (and because he hasn't stoop up for himself). Tiger should have lived his social life more like George Clooney and Bruce Willis - who are happy to be single and don't lose points with the public for not being married. Still - if we set such a high standard for a man who marries - marriage becomes way too dangerous and there will be less of it.

    Marketers and politicians need to take note. Products sold to young males need less of a political correctness factor. Tiger never had to get married and his sponsors did not need to have convinced him to do so (I believe they pressured him into the marriage). Republicans need to drop moralistic talk entirely and target young males (who aren't targeted by the Dems either).

  9. Accenture Cheats from Accenture, December 18, 2009 at 4:11 p.m.

    This is representative of Accenture which also cheats. For a consulting firm, like Accenture, infidelity can have multiple meanings. Your client can be compared to a “wife”. And cheating, or going behind the back of your client, can be done in several ways, see:

    http://accentureischeatingonitsclients.blogspot.com/2009/12/three-ways-accenture-is-cheating-on-its.html

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