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Accenture takes aim

March 31, 2009

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

While flipping through my free* April 6 edition of BusinessWeek the other day, I was struck by the number of ‘Accenture’ ads I came across. The ads are hard to miss as they all involve shots of Tiger Woods golfing.

The cover story this week is a profile of The BusinessWeek 50 Best Performers. The actual cover of the story starts opposite an Accenture ad. Then, you open up a double truck (two-page spread) ad for Accenture. Finally, you get to the story, but throughout the copy there are three more double truck ads, followed by a single page ad at the end of the package. In total, there are 10 pages of ads surrounding the cover story. Not to mention the double-truck ad on the inside front cover and the one in the back of the magazine.

I was amazed that one company would buy so many ads in a print publication. Nearly every day I see articles on the Internet about how print advertising numbers are dropping, but here is one company that is bucking the trend. And then I began to see the genius behind what they were doing.

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company that employs more than 181,000 people and serves clients in over 120 countries. Accenture helps its clients identify new business and technology trends to enter new markets, improve in their current market, improve operational performance, and deliver products and services more effectively and efficiently. In short, they employ the cream-of-the-crop experts in dozens of industries that serve as consultants to make businesses bigger and better performers … just like the top companies in the article.

By putting their advertising amongst the top 50 performers, the message they are sending is that if you utilize Accenture, you too could be a top performer. Obviously, not everyone can make the cut for the annual BusinessWeek Top 50 Performers, but the connection they are aiming for is clear: Employing Accenture consulting services leads to top business performers.

And, Accenture certainly knows how to target their clients. Not only did they purposefully consume 36% of the total cover story package with their advertisements they did so in such a manner that they were absolutely impossible to miss, and with a sport many in business like to play.

When I went to the story at the BusinessWeek.com Web site, I saw that Accenture is actually sponsoring the online version of the story. Not a bad move, in my opinion, since there are no less than three direct links to the Accenture Web site from the story.

In lean times companies really need to focus on where they can get the best return for their advertising dollars. I am sure that it cost a pretty penny for Accenture to not only purchase all of those ads, but to sponsor and thus get exclusive ad space in the online version, not to mention the cost to have Tiger Woods as the face of an advertising campaign. However, in doing so Accenture shows that it is taking a bold swing to attract new clients and ultimately, only they will know if their strategy pays off.

*A big thank you to the Kelley Direct chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs for the free subscription to BusinessWeek.

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