Ad Rant: Accenture tries to restore post-Tiger Woods dignity with an elephant

Tiger Woods might not be an Accenture kind of guy anymore, but that hasn't stopped the consulting giant from taking its cue from an ad the golfer once did for them. "It's what you do next that counts," the ad declared as Tiger contemplated a ball stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Now that Accenture is in a similar position - the firm's endorsement deal with Tiger was the second to blow up, after Gillette, following news that the golfer rammed his car into a scandal last Thanksgiving - what it has decided to do next is replace Tiger with an image that conveys equivalent dignity, gravitas and prestige: an elephant on a surfboard.

"Who says you can't be big and nimble?" asks the ad, one of several newly-minted by Accenture to fill the void left by its six-year association with Tiger Woods.

Big and nimble. Accenture is certainly big (it raked in $21.6 billion in revenue during its past fiscal year). It's nimble, in the sense that it came up with a global advertising scheme a mere month after shedding Tiger. Big and nimble, okay. But how about smart?

The idea of the elephant - along with a chameleon and some frogs and fish - got a thumbs-up from advertising focus groups, so it's not as if the public will reject the ads. I should point out, though, that the typical focus group would also have given the okay to velvet paintings of wide-eyed puppies. So now the new elephant in the room is why Accenture, understandably shy of humans because of their propensity toward embarrassing displays of human nature, would choose a sports-loving pachyderm? If anything, such an image screams "Photoshop."

Even if Tiger had followed Hugh Grant's lead (when caught with your pants down, go immediately on a national TV talk show and be funny and contrite in equal measure), Accenture would not have wanted people looking at their ads and thinking, "someone who cheats on his wife with countless bimbos." But elephants come with baggage too, you know. With Tiger Woods, Accenture could bask in the glow of the man's achievements, athletic brilliance and strategic mind. With an elephant, let's see. Well, it never forgets, right? And there are plenty of other elephants that spring to mind:

Babar: Beloved French fictional character for children

Dumbo: Animated Disney creature who could fly by flapping his big ears

Horton: Dr. Seuss creation who heard a Who

Fantasia: Disney elephants blowing pink bubbles with their trunks to Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours

Topsy: Thomas Edison demonstrated the wonders of electrocution by publicly assassinating this abused circus animal (she had killed a trainer who tried to feed her a lit cigarette), and filming it. I guess Topsy wasn't nimble enough to avoid the cyanide-laced carrots they fed her beforehand.

Certainly, Tiger Woods made Accenture uncomfortable when he revealed his all-too-human flaws, but he is also, undeniably, a great golfer. Accenture's new elephant spokesman cannot actually ride his little surfboard, not even if he hires the company to manage his career. It's safer and cuter to go with animals in your advertising, but does Accenture really want to be known as safe and cute ... and fake?
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