Years in current job: 2
Quote: “I would say that the story is clearly using Tiger [Woods] as the metaphor for high performance. He embodies the message and what the brand position is.”
Teresa Poggenpohl has been one of the architects of Accenture's affiliation with golfer Tiger Woods. The partnership, which began in 2003, is widely viewed as one of the best uses of a celebrity pitchman in b-to-b marketing.
“In my opinion, that's best in class,” Simon White, head of sponsorship for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at McCann Worldgroup's Momentum Worldwide, said of Accenture's use of Woods. “I was on the Accenture Web site this morning, and you don't have to go to the sponsorship part of www.accenture.com to find Tiger Woods. It led with Tiger Woods. He's actually become part of the fabric of what the company is.”
Poggenpohl said Woods, with his commitment to excellence, has become a metaphor for what Accenture strives to do: deliver “high-performance” results for its customers. The Tiger campaign has also gone a long way toward embedding the Accenture name in the minds of customers and prospects while erasing ties to the old Andersen Consulting brand.
Accenture's use of Woods has also been extremely flexible and integrated into a broad swath of the consulting firm's communications. When the campaign rolled out, it had a tagline encouraging Accenture's customers and prospects: “Go ahead. Be a Tiger.”
In 2006, in tandem with the release of Accenture research on why businesses become “high performers,” the company changed the tagline to “We know what it takes to be a Tiger.” In the past 12 months, Accenture and its agency, Young & Rubican, adjusted the campaign to acknowledge the impact the recession was having on the business world. “We wanted to change the ads and evolve the message in light of the huge economic problems spreading globally,” Poggenpohl said.
“Essentially, what we did in three weeks was create and launch a new campaign that addresses the uncertainty in the marketplace. We changed the images to show Tiger in more challenging situations. The launch ad has Tiger against a background of storm clouds, and the headline reads, "Why high performers shine even when the sun doesn't.' ”
Accenture's main marketing target is top executives, and the company reaches this group in traditional venues such as airports and on 24-hour news networks such as CNN and Fox News Channel. Like most b-to-b marketers, Accenture is also reaching its target audience directly via its own Web site and its Outlook custom publication. Poggenpohl said Accenture also uses paid search and social media.
Many of these efforts feature Woods. Is there anywhere that Accenture hasn't used him?
“We didn't use Tiger originally in recruiting advertising,” Poggenpohl said. “We recruit a young target audience, and we thought Tiger might not be as important to them as he would be to middle-aged men interested in golf. But Tiger has a unique appeal outside of that group, in part because of his heritage, which includes an Asian background. People around the world, across generations know who he is whether they follow golf or not. And they understand the message he embodies of high performance. He works great.”