12.13.2009

A bad lie, or the new invisible man

Tiger Woods, airbrushed out of history (or at least, off of Accenture's web site and other marketing collateral.)

Accenture has terminated its sponsorship of Tiger Woods. I mention this because I travelled through the USAir terminal in LaGuardia several times in the past 18 months, and the space was like the "Hall of Tiger, presented by Accenture" thanks to several large photos of:
  • Tiger Woods pumping his fist in victory
  • Tiger Woods making difficult shots from the rough
  • Tiger Woods driving a golf ball a long way
  • etc.
The larger-than-life images were superimposed with the kind of graphics and pithy little epigrams one of would expect from a consultancy known for producing "decks" (meaningless powerpoint presentations) rather than a tangible product.

From a marketing perspective, Accenture was 'all in' with their Tiger Woods strategy. Tiger was a winner, fierce competitor, cool and collected under pressure, the best in the world, etc. The company invested tens of millions of dollars to drive home the point that the company possessed the same attributes.

Of course, Tiger Woods proved to be a flawed and fallible human being and turned out to be a different kind of 'player' -- a man who liked cocktail waitresses (and worse) and who had ample opportunity to indulge in his predilections.

In retrospect, Accenture's millions of dollars in marketing expenditure served to associate the company with a tawdry story about a lack of transparency, cheating, promiscuity, and sleaze. Not exactly a catalog of desirable top-of-mind characteristics for a major international firm competing for business all over the world.

My point in posting this is not to critique the behavior of Tiger Woods -- or even to comment on his taste in women. I think Accenture's marketing choices look naive and stupid in retrospect. It appears that the company's offerings -- which include outsourcing vast numbers of US jobs -- can't be easily explained or marketed without a high-priced celebrity pitchman -- and associating so closely with one fallible person wasn't the wisest choice after all.

Myself, I have spent too much time following the antics of pro cyclists to expect athletes to be anything but athletes, and lots of times even their performances on the field (or in a race) are rather suspect... and apparently this applies on the golf course as well.

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