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Accenture's Mistake with Tiger Woods Transcends Fiasco

When Accenture last week ditched Tiger Woods as its sole pitchman, it served as a key reminder of what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket.

Accenture is one of the largest independent providers of IT consulting, integration and outsourcing services with annual revenues of $21.58 in fiscal year 2009. The company, which had blanketed Woods across all media in its "We Know What it Takes to be a Tiger" campaign last week scrubbed all vestiges of Woods from its Web site and removed all posters and other collateral from its offices, according to a front page story in The New York Times.

Until last month, the golf champion had an unblemished image. It all came apart with daily allegations of indiscretions and infidelities that have since dominated the news. Accenture last week issued a statement saying "the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative," and that it will roll out a new campaign in 2010.

The new campaign will continue to carry its High Performance Delivered” message, Accenture said. While Accenture and its ad agencies are undoubtedly scrambling to come up with a new strategy, it might be advisable not to have that message riding on one point of failure, especially considering the fact that enterprise customers expect their services providers to avoid that very thing from happening in their IT environments.

According to the Times report, Woods appeared in 83 percent of Accenture's ads. Besides having so much riding on Woods, columnist Frank Rich yesterday pointed to a conversation he had last week with New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica. "If Tiger Woods was so important to Accenture, how come I didn’t know what Accenture did when they fired him," Lupica asked Rich, in his weekly column.

Granted most buyers of IT consulting and integration services are familiar with Accenture, its revenues and profits have declined over the past year. So maybe it was time for the company to reshape how it delivered its value proposition. Even if Tiger Woods fiasco hadn't unfolded, perhaps he wasn't the best representative for a company providing IT services after all, notes Directions on Microsoft analyst Paul DeGroot, during an e-mail exchange we had last week.

"If you want to come across as hip, fast, physically gifted, by all means hire Tiger Woods," DeGroot said. "The lesson is, align your [message] with your company image."

 

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on December 21, 2009


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