After Woods, Is It Time to Rethink Celebrity Endorsements?

Last Updated Dec 14, 2009 12:55 PM EST

Accenture's tagline, "High Performance: Delivered," takes on a whole new meaning now that the world knows Tiger Woods has been frolicking with porn stars. It's no surprise the consulting firm, which had built its entire advertising campaign around an association with Woods' golf game, became the latest corporation to end its sponsorship affiliation.
When Woods was only known for racking up wins, his presence made Accenture's advertisements more compelling than the rest. But that same celebrity draw is the reason why the tabloids are now dissecting his every move.

Over the long run, it seems that tying an entire organization's image to one individual is a risky move. Celebrities are human beings too, after all--humans who end up believing their ability to hit a shot or look good in front of the cameras gives them the power to live by their own rules.

The liability remains even if a company's public face is a created personality, such as Verizon's "Hear Me Know?" guy. A public personality, even if an "F-lister," is still going to attract interest from all those celebrity hounds armed with camera phones and Twitter accounts. Recently, fat photos of Subway's Jared were deemed worthy of coverage on the trashy but heavily-trafficked Hollywood blog run by Perez Hilton.
There can still be slip ups if your company looks internally for its public face. Consider Google's photogenic VP and emerging public personality, Marissa Mayer, who keeps getting her picture taken with an iPhone rather than a Google-powered Droid.
In most cases, though, these errors are pretty insignificant. For every Tiger Woods scandal, there are countless celebrity endorsement deals that work well without a hitch. Just don't bet the farm on one person.

  • Stefan Deeran

    Stefan Deeran helps environmental nonprofits and green businesses develop and execute their new media campaigns. He also publishes The Exception magazine, a nonpartisan news platform serving his home state of Maine. You can follow him on Twitter @RStefanDeeran or via Facebook.