Open Mic

Tiger Woods Infidelity Breaks Up a Truly Beautiful Ad Relationship

Chuck Ross Posted December 14, 2009 at 1:10 AM

Tags: Accenture, advertising, endorsements, infidelity, scandal, Tiger Woods, young & rubicam

For any of us who travel a lot—meaning that we pass through many airports—one of the joys in the past five years or so have been those huge, absolutely gorgeous ads for Accenture featuring Tiger Woods.

You know the ones: They are always extolling us to “be a Tiger,”  and that Accenture has what it takes to be one as well. Many of the ads actually use that line. Others executions—all brilliantly done by Young and Rubicam—just show Woods facing some tough shot or situation. Some have also appeared in print publications and in various iterations online.

And the ads feature beautiful photography. Truly magnificent.

Here’s a typical execution: Woods is studying a golfing situation. And there’s a line drawn next to Woods on the photo, like in a graph that shows how measuring is done. And the copy by the line says “Information 40%. Interpretation 60%.” Then, on the bottom of the ad is the line “We know what it takes to be a Tiger,” and there’s some brief copy about Accenture’s services, consulting, technology, and outsourcing. The ad ends with the name of the company and its tagline “High performance. Delivered.”

Of course that defined Woods as well. It was the perfect melding of pitchman to how a company wanted to communicate its image.

Given the oneness between Accenture and Woods, the company had no choice but to cut all ties with him when Woods admitted, in a message on his website, to his “infidelity.”

As the company said on Sunday, “Accenture 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.”

Woods was indeed a metaphor for Accenture, and a large part of this iconic campaign has been to portray Woods’ great judgment as being the sauce that makes Woods so special and, by association, what makes Accenture so special.

And while this has been illustrated in the campaign by Woods’ prowess on the golf course, what’s left unsaid—but has always been in our minds as we look and read the ads—is that this great judgment of Woods’ extends beyond the links.

Which brings me to one last point.

The only communication Woods has made about all this has been a few paragraphs he’s posted on his website.

His first posting had these lines: “Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions.

“Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.”

Woods is wrong if he thinks the only ones he’s let down is his family and that they are the only ones to whom he needs to make amends.

Yes, in a later posting Woods asked his “business partners” for “understanding” so he can do some “personal healing” with his family.

But in a real and material way, Woods has let down the people at Accenture, who not only paid him a lot of money, but who made a deep brand association with him in the belief that he was person he claimed to be and who they—and we—thought he was.#