Branding: Accenture & Tiger Woods Redux

This ad for Accenture featuring Tiger Woods re-appeared a month ago in a story about endorsements.  A few things came to mind.

As a golfer, I have often found myself facing a test similar to the one Tiger Woods is pictured facing here. In Tiger’s case, given the level at which he performs at the game of golf, this particular problem is usually solved. No need to mention what the likely outcome would have been in my case, other than picking up my ball and taking a penalty stroke.

The other idea that came to mind is that some challenges can be addressed using a number of options. In golf, much of the solution is based on calculated risk relative to reward. ‘Calculated’ is the operative since skill set and environmental factors play into the range of outcomes.

In the context of branding, what if you’re an advertiser that has heavily banked on a star, especially one that is the ultimate embodiment of what the brand stands for? Accenture is a company that is about High Performance. Delivered. It is a company with over 170,000 employees worldwide that provides professional services to some of the world’s largest and most successful companies. Accenture hires the best talent it can find. Tiger Woods is the best and the most talented of our age.  A perfect and risk-free fit in terms of co-branding Tiger Woods Inc. and Accenture.

In the broader context of advertising and marketing, for Accenture to contemplate the wisdom of having aligned with the Tiger Woods brand is irrelevant. In fact, it was a very astute decision, one that has enhanced the profile of Accenture globally.

The real issue is how those who are emotionally vested in these two brands will manage going forward. It’s a true test of character when we are faced with circumstances that test our ethics, morality and beliefs in ways that were previously unforseen.

As it turns out, Accenture has experience little material damage compared to Tiger Woods’ sponsors. Collectively, Nike, AT&T, Tag Heuer and the like have thus far suffered stock market capitalization losses in the order of $12B, excluding foregone sales. Accenture on the other hand, has been impacted by a massive opportunity cost, likely with little or no damage to business or reputation vis-a-vis its customers.

Both parties however are facing different futures, one that is clearly uncertain at this point by virtue of his absence from the world stage.  The other is ready to march on in the true, stoic spirit of the management consultancy, like Jack Nicklaus in a way.

“It’s what you do next” rings so very truly.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia



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