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Murphy's law in reverse

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James E. Murphy, global managing director-marketing and communications for Accenture, was the overwhelming choice to be BtoB’s inaugural "Marketer of the Year."

A marketing veteran with an iconoclastic approach, Murphy made one of the biggest gambles in consulting marketing history—a $175 million campaign to rebrand Andersen Consulting with a new name and focus—and turned it into jackpot of epic proportions.

This new brand, Accenture, was initially dismissed by some consulting insiders as confusing and frivolous. But over the course of its first year, it has proven to be an eminently marketable and recognized moniker where it really matters—among clients.

Accenture won’t disclose percentages regarding name recognition since the Jan. 1 launch of its integrated marketing campaign, which Murphy shrewdly extended beyond TV to indispensable
b-to-b platforms including London’s Heathrow Airport and the PGA Tour. But the New York-based company did reveal that a greater percentage of its Fortune 1000 target clients recognizes Accenture than they did Andersen Consulting .

It is a remarkable feat, especially considering the 98 years of marketing equity that went into building the still-powerful Andersen brand.

Branding experts said it was not only Murphy’s willingness to take big, global marketing risks on behalf of the Accenture brand, but also the spending commitment that he earned from the firm’s leaders, that make him stand apart. They also lauded his success at making marketing a central business discipline at Accenture, a rare feat at a consultancy.

"Accenture is one of the few in their industry that really appreciates advertising," said Steven Addis, CEO of Addis, a Berkeley, Calif.-based branding firm. "They blanketed the world. You couldn’t turn without seeing their name. Their ads made you think. And it was also about what money could buy."

Indeed, Murphy said a good part of Accenture’s branding ubiquity can be attributed to the effort the firm has made to educate consultants, who at many firms treat marketing as a backwater assignment. "It’s a most critical issue," said Murphy, who joined Accenture in 1993 from Burson-Marsteller, where he was chairman-CEO of the Americas. "Branding is a business issue, not a marketing issue," he said. "It has to be a core part of your business strategy, or it doesn’t get embraced."

One of Murphy’s greatest ongoing challenges will be to make
Accenture a truly global brand at every level. Fittingly, it was one of the company’s Oslo-based consultants, Kim Petersen, who coined the name. (Murphy solicited names from all the company’s employees, who presented 2,700 suggestions.) For Accenture, a global approach is especially important, for it does more business abroad—more than 50%, in fact—than in the U.S., Murphy said.

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