The list of Tiger Woods' sexual conquests had barely reached the double digits when Accenture fired him as its celebrity spokesathlete because, as experts explained, it needed to go in a completely different direction. Detaching him from the company's brand would be painful and take time, but it was necessary.
Have you seen Accenture's ads lately? Tiger has already been replaced by elephants, lizards, and fish in a $40-50 million annual branding spend that doesn't seem to have skipped a beat.
Woods had been hired in 2003 "...because his golf game was a metaphor for 'high performance delivered' [the company's branding slogan]," according to Accenture's corporate communications person. His name was used as ad copy -- "We know what it takes to be a Tiger" and "Go on. Be a Tiger." -- and he appeared in a whopping 83% of the company's ads last year.
And then it was over. Accenture reports that it hasn't suffered an economic impact because of the scandal. There's been no news reports of big name businesses jumping ship to consultancies with different pitchmen or corporate mascots. Contrary to the hopes of the branding experts, the residual damage of having a spokesathlete who is a serial womanizer with atrociously bad taste proved to be just about zilch.
This begs the question of what he was worth in the first place.
Think how many businesses spend oodles of cash to promote celebs or make-believe characters for their branding, all in pursuit of some imaginary lasting value. I get the awareness benefit and all, but the Tiger fiasco isn't a teachable moment for the benefits or pitfalls of celebrity endorsements, it is?