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Brian is one of the titans of the technology services arena with more than 25 years experience in the field, 10 of which were served as Senior Director of Andersen Consulting's (now Accenture's) global Software Intelligence unit.

13 responses to “Accenture: ‘Branded’ by the Tiger Woods mess”

  1. Naomi Bloom

    Brian, thanks so much for bringing this discussion to the rest of us. While I can understand why beer, car, and sports gear companies use athletes, however subject to bad behavior, as their spokesmodels, it has always been a mystery to me why a firm like Accenture would take that risk and to what purpose? Is there anything about Tiger Woods that screams organizational levers of high performance? Individual performance perhaps, at least for players of non-team sports, but since business is almost always a team sport, the connection seemed tenuous at best. But perhaps the Accenture leadership enjoyed hanging out with a major sports celebrity who just happens to play their sport? In any case, they’re looking pretty foolish at the moment. And I thought they advised clients on things like human capital management, vendor relationship governance, and such.

  2. Matt M

    Thanks, Brian, that was a thought provoking piece. I do think though, that many of the points you make are the result of a knee-jerk reaction.

    First, the public knows very few *facts* about any of the events that happened in Mr. Woods’ life over the past few days. Like too much of today’s journalism, we are relying way too heavily on hearsay and rumor. That doesn’t mean these “allegations” (and I use that loosely here) did not happen, but it means that we need to be very cautious about how much credence we give them. Michael Vick and Kobe Bryant were both convicted in a court of law; obviously the Woods story is not over but that is a big difference that does not yet merit passing such categorical judgements.

    Your point is true that the use of living, fallible people is a risk in marketing, especially, as you say, the longer they are maintained as a sponsor and therefore have more chances to screw up. But the tradeoff is relevance. You can hardly say that an animal or a deceased president is as recognizable to a high-level corporate decision maker (Accenture’ target audience) than the person who is at the top of their favorite game (yes, I’m generalizing, but I think it fits here).

    To add to the above point on relevance, you also have to consider the ways in which Accenture can most effectively market itself. As a business-to-business company, Accenture targets corporate leader who are charged with large budgets to use for the betterment of their organizations. Those people are constantly traveling which is why you see so many Accenture ads in airports and not on TV.

    That type of static print advertising is more restrictive in that the use of a less risky figure (animal, dead president) cannot be brought to life. You can’t tell me that the Geico lizard or cavemen would have been nearly as effective in static print. For this kind of advertising to be effective, Tiger Woods makes it sticky to the target audience.

    I agree with Ms. Bloom that the link is not connected from every angle, but I also don’t think that it was a complete miscalculation. And as a brand that Mr. Woods was a part of becoming Top 50 in the world, it would not be in Accenture’s strategic best interest to drop him at the first sign of trouble.

    -Matt M

  3. Marcia Van Lenten

    Brian,
    Good article, great perspective.

    As a retired small business owner….never had the capital to advertise with high-profile stars. This should be an awakening for large corporations using these “stars” that could have clay feet they aren’t aware of. Every time I saw “Opportunity isn’t always obvious” from Accenture….my reaction was….more American jobs overseas. Well now I’ll think about Tiger and skanky broads. Gotta love Nike’s “Just Do It”……well Tiger sure did!

    It’s long past time for Corporations, advertisers to have some reality. Auto’s with holiday bows/wrappings…..on television, in this economy? Kobe, Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson ad nauseam……..great role models to hawk toilet plungers!

  4. David

    None of this matters. Celebrities are used because their names attract notice. Whether they do “good” or “bad” things is irrelevance, its their prominence in our consciousnesses that matter. Therefore its clear why Accenture wanted such an association.

    Whether or not their advertising achieves anything for their business is another question.

    Why anyone cares at all is yet another.

  5. Baddog

    I don’t see that this hurts accenture much. One assumes that these ads are targeted at leaders of potential accenture clients – predominantly male middle aged corporate senior execs. For many of them this will simply serve to enhance the aspirational nature of the Woods brand. How many CEOs arriving a foreign airport will see the ubiquitous accenture ads and be even more inspired to emulate Tiger. There are good men out there of course, I know some, but generally speaking men seek wealth, success and power because it creates the opportunity for more sex.

  6. Abby

    This is so going to hurt Accenture..If you’ve ever walked into any Accenture office you’ll know how far they take the ‘go on be a tiger’ theme. almost every wall is decorated with huge posters of tiger wood “high performance delivered”, wonder how they are gonna handle this embarrassment. Too bad for tiger though – after all he is still a human.

  7. Bill

    Anyone with any real class would have torn up his own contract with Accenture – not waited for people to debate the matter whilst reading about Tiger and his 10th mistress (the Porn Star). This makes Accenture look dirty, cheap and certainly not trustworthy. As for High Performance…well, that’s not exactly how the ladies describe Tiger’s performance 😉

  8. Joshna John

    This is going to hurt Accenture brand value too.. They had relied too much on Tiger Woods in spreading their own news of high performers..and moreover the relationship between a sporting jumbo and a consulting jumbo is strange..

  9. Hollywood

    It is interesting how Intel is using their own employees as stars rather than a celebrity. Sony in Japan used an avatar. Sony’s sponsorship of another golf player, Michelle, turns out to be another dud.

  10. Bill

    How could Accenture have not known about this man and his mistresses?!?!? Did they do *any* background checks before paying $$$millions to this sleazeball? What does that say about their due diligence? Accenduh.

  11. Rangs

    One thing is for sure, when things are going fine with you all of them want to take advantage. As soon as they get an hint of a fall down immediately everyone want to wash their hands of from the person. There is a saying in Hindi the English version will be something like this “When the ship drowns, all the mouse will run for shelter”. This is what all weak companies are doing now.

  12. A flower grows in East York* « Road of Iron

    […] my hands swelled up, and I slowed down. Three blocks from my office I ran past two executives of That Consulting Firm That Used to Use Tiger Woods to Represent Them. One of these executives was the one that permitted to me to be thrown off a project in the worst […]

  13. Mona Albano

    It makes me wonder if someone high in the ranks of Accenture simply has a crush on the beautiful Mr. Woods.