How Accenture Dropped Tiger Woods Without Using Social Media. Pros, Cons and Opportunities.

Truthfully speaking, when I worked for Accenture, I loved seeing the Accenture ads with Tiger Woods at the airports with the witty one liners and the simple approach to it all. Also, to be quite honest, I always have questioned claims that Tiger Woods ads actually have any tangible and measurable ROI. That was before the Tiger Woods issue.  Beyond the personal issues, Tiger is a great athlete with unmatchable achievements.

But in this time of real-time communication, new media, social networks, twitter and facebook how does a company  like Accenture make use of the channels at hand?   Here is a run down of what Accenture has been doing and what they are missing.

Pros:

Accenture dropps Tiger Woods quickly and quietly.

This was a good move in their parts albeit a day or two late thus allowing the media to speculate on what Accenture was going to do.

Accenture Publishes Short and sweet press release.

A short message was published in Accenture’s newsroom.  Very good strategy if you want to “control the message” as press releases are closed and inward facing by nature. However, the shortness of the message stopped the speculation and helped the media understand that Accenture takes its brand image very seriously. After all, a consulting company is all about the image as they need to portrait an air of exclusivity and talent that can attract larger customers and higher revenues.

Here is the press release published by Accenture

NEW YORK; Dec. 13, 2009 – Accenture (NYSE: ACN) today announced that it will not continue its sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods.

For the past six years, Accenture and Tiger Woods have had a very successful sponsorship arrangement and his achievements on the golf course have been a powerful metaphor for business success in Accenture’s advertising.  However, given the circumstances of the last two weeks, after careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising. Accenture said that it wishes only the best for Tiger Woods and his family.

Accenture will continue to leverage its “High Performance Business” strategy and “High Performance Delivered” positioning in the marketplace.  The company will immediately transition to a new advertising campaign, with a major effort scheduled to launch later in 2010.

Accenture changes Twitter background ahead of official announcement.

Accenture changes Twitter background from a Tiger Woods image to a more abstract and picture that portraits “high-performance”, the tag line for the company. This change is probably the easiest to make as the Twitter account is managed directly from within the company so it makes sense they can react quicker on Twitter than their website and physical banners across the US.

Screen shot 2009-12-15 at 12.52.08 AM

Accenture removes Tiger Woods images and copy from the home page

That was the second quickest move. The website represents the brand and the web is where people will go first to understand in real-time where the company stands. The web is the quickest, cheapest and most measurable medium to tell your story to the public and Accenture should have made better use of it in the midsts of being tied to a one-man brand as the New York Times says.

Accenture replaces Tiger Woods with Beautiful Pictures of birds and blurry people

This one is just for fun, but it seems the available stock had a disproportionated amount of pictures of birds and blurry athletes. I get what they are trying to convey but if you look at several pages in the website, the images are a little bird-heavy. See screenshots below.

bird-1

blurry-people

Screen shot 2009-12-15 at 12.19.50 AM

Cons (Opportunities):

Accenture does not respond on Twitter or Facebook

Huge missed opportunity to put their two-cents in the conversation. There seems to be a deep misunderstanding of what is the meaning of embracing social media. Twitter and facebook are not broadcasting channels that brands can use to “target an audience” and to “control the message” in their feeds.

If a brand does not engage fully in social media, it might be better off being one hundred percent committed to being absent because then there would be no questions about how social media is being used by the brand and why. The latest tweet by Accenture was this one 19 hours ago:

Screen shot 2009-12-15 at 12.35.10 AM

No mention of Tiger Woods and no link to the press release either in any of their tweets. At the very least Accenture should have acknowledged the existence of the press release by providing a link to the posting.

Accenture provides a press release and nothing else

In the age of real-time communication with Twitter and facebook as simple and easy tools to communicate massively and interactively, Accenture has yet to respond in any shape or form to the questions that many people are posing. I am imagining that a lot of employees want to see this happening and that @Accenture turns into an interactive resource that can help the community understand the thinking beyond the decision and how Accenture is facing this challenge.

it is not only the company that is suffering a PR nightmare by having Tiger associated with the brand. It is a burden carried by all the employees as they are faced with questions about Tiger and Accenture. Wouldn’t it be great of your employees can tell their customers to go look at the Accenture Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute information on the issue? That would help client facing teams avoid the conversation over and over and actually start a more fruitful conversation about how to manage crisis in in the age of Twitter and Facebook.

John Mayer finds out about Accenture just because they dropped Tiger

John Mayer tweets twice about Accenture and tells the world. He doesn’t know what “the hell they do”.

Screen shot 2009-12-15 at 12.55.36 AM

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