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.
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.