Saturday, April 17, 2010

Brand Update : Accenture

After the high profile Tiger Woods controversy, Accenture was quick to distance itself from the celebrity who was the virtual face of the brand. Accenture as a brand was in a tough spot because it was strongly associated itself with Tiger Woods and suddenly the brand was put in a position to disown its own brand image.
I could imagine the plight of the agency and the brand manager to come out with a new set of campaign without undoing all the equity and brand position that has been built over these years. Since their consulting business is not depended on advertising , they could breathe easy. If it was a consumer business , Accenture would have been in a soup.

The brand has started a new series of campaigns with a new set of brand ambassadors - the animals. Seems that Accenture has decided to depend on animals since there is no risk of them getting into any controversy. The brand is running a TVC featuring an elephant while the magazine ad features a type of Chameleon.

The ads were far far below the standard of the erstwhile ads featuring Tiger Woods. I feel that the brand could have continued using human beings ( models) as the protagonists rather than switching suddenly to animals. Since Accenture's core strength is People, ads featuring animals may not do well to reinforce the core positioning of the brand. The brand could also take the risk of taking multiple celebrities for the campaigns rather than shying away altogether from celebrities.

The Accenture brand saga throws in some important lessons. The importance of De-Risking the brand's associations. Accenture as a brand has put in lot of investment in Tiger Woods without de-risking. Ideally it would have either used more than one celebrity or could have run parallel campaigns with the same positioning but using a different creative platform. I had raised the same issue of risk in my analysis of Katrina endorsing Slice. Brands cannot escape from secondary associations. These associations can be on features,celebrities, countries etc. It is important for brand managers to have a clear understanding on these associations and how it is affecting consumer perceptions. It also pays to de-risk the brand from certain strong associations so that the brand may not land up in trouble.

Brand Update