Such identity-robbing consumer confusion got to be just too much for Andersen Consulting, which last year handed Young & Rubicam's London office a task that was as clear as it was formidable: Start in Europe to establish a single, unique and global brand image for Andersen Consulting, and one conspicuously void of the "sort-ofs" intrinsic to the sector.
Created in 1988 when the consultancy unit was separated from the accounting, tax and audit operations at Arthur Andersen & Co., Andersen Consulting never fully established its own identity and image despite ranking as the world's largest consultancy with annual revenues of $4.22 billion and 37,000 employees. So in 1994, it called on Y&R to help to flesh out and communicate the company's unique corporate personality and capabilities through a worldwide ad campaign.
A priority in the effort, Andersen insisted, was to stress its offer of providing "business integration"-meaning the analysis, reorganization and interlacing of clients' strategy, operation, information technology and staff composition. By taking Andersen's approach to business development, the campaign was to suggest a company could keep growing through constant adaptation to market demands.
The second theme Andersen sought to convey was the notion of its own consistent global service around the world. By establishing Andersen's identity as a truly global consultancy, the campaign would assure clients with worldwide operations that they get identical service everywhere, and would tell smaller businesses that they can get the same tools and advantages that the multinationals enjoy.
After casting about and researching various possible creative approaches, Y&R and Andersen decided victory lay in the decidedly fishy form of a shark. In ads on TV, in print media and at airports, the campaign centered on a school of fish navigating potentially dangerous waters. For protection from menacing predators, the fish band together and regroup into a formation resembling a shark. With its example of how better structuring and creative thinking can offer smarter and more productive responses to everyday challenges and threats, Andersen's "Shark" ad asks clients the pay-off question: "What shape is your business in?"
PINPOINT MEDIA STRATEGY
This precise creative effort was marked by an equally innovative but pinpointed media strategy. Aiming at a relatively select target of influential business managers and CEOs, the campaign turned to international business outlets (The Economist, Financial Times, Fortune, Business Week). But it also used high-impact pan-European TV spots-(CNN was used during the week and Eurosport on weekends)-a novelty in reaching such a limited audience.
"Given the target group, one could ask, `Why use TV? Why not just write each one a nice letter?"' said Paul Venn, a Y&R senior account director. "We wanted to reach them through the print me-Andersen tells its tale
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dia and get the message through in a more conventional manner, then hit them at home with TV during their leisure time when they normally would not be thinking about business."
"Advertising in airports was also key," said Judith McMahon, Andersen's advertising and sponsorship manager in London. "Our clients are very mobile people, and so are the Andersen employees who work with them. This presence in the airport was a reminder to clients that Andersen is there with them wherever they go."
`SHARK' HITS THE MARK
According to follow-up research, "The Shark" ad has made the desired impression. Target group respondents showed spontaneous brand awareness of Andersen Consulting exceeded 70% in Europe, and reached saturation levels in the U.K.-a recognition that far exceeds those of rival consultants. That score is even more remarkable considering that during the development of the campaign, Andersen didn't advertise.
Ms. McMahon said, "We are developing a second campaign for this autumn, and we'll no doubt continue relying on this kind of very lively creativity to reflect Andersen's personality and commitment to being a global partner."