Advertising

Spotted: The AICPA’s Restroom Marketing Campaign

Our tipster writes: The marketing gurus at the AICPA posted this above the hand dryer in the men's bathroom of a local dive bar!  What better time to think about retirement then after some $2 Miller Lite bottles, $.15 wings, and 100 losing Cubs seasons?    What's next?  Perhaps advertising that all CGMAs must wash […]

This EY Shilling Is Brought to You By Forbes

Forbes — corporate shilling factory and low-grade financial "journalism" disguised as a magazine for rich people — has a new writer. Yes they already have 10,000 bloggers on every subject known to man but they added another. Only it's not a writer, it's a firm and it's not journalism, it's EY corporate speak. Forbes explains […]

#TBT: That Time Mustang Was Marketed to Harried Public Accountants

Should a harried Public Accountant drive a relaxed private fun car like Mustang? The California Board of Accountancy tells us the average yearly salary for a CPA in 1964 was $6,708.42. A 1966 Mustang, like the one the "frazzled figure-wrestler" in the photo above is driving, started at $2500 base.

Big 4 in Hong Kong Will Not Let Democracy Get In the Way of Providing Exceptional Client Service

As you may have heard, the Big 4 found it within themselves to unite in a recent advertisement taken out in three Chinese-language newspapers warning against pro-democracy protests that would clog up downtown and make it really hard to lube up the capitalist machine with trust and reliable audit opinions. Thanks to our pal Professor […]

The AICPA Is Getting Some Heat For Feed the Pig Ads on Rush Limbaugh’s Show

Recently, a Feed the Pig commercial aired during a broadcast by everyone's favorite far right wing hot air machine Rush Limbaugh and apparently there is a select group of dedicated folks who make it their mission to boycott every advertiser on said hot air machine's show. Hey, to each his own, frankly I don't care […]

Here’s 10 Embarrassing and Irrelevant Examples of Accounting Firm Advertising

The “Call our boy Ed Nusbaum” rose ad is up there as one of the most cringe-worthy pieces of advertising ever, not just out of accounting. We get it, GT, you’re trying to make accounting all sexy and stuff but put an old white guy on your ad with a rose between his teeth and it just comes off as weird. Make it a chick and you’re just being creepy and demeaning. Good to know the rebranding has helped the Purple Rose of Chicago beef up its advertising efforts, even if questions still remain as to how accurate said advertising is. And really, “instinct for growth” is still kinda sleazy, albeit not rose-in-the-teeth level sleaze. Sounds like GT needs a few hours of sexual harrassment training.

Guess Which Accounting Firm Took Out The Biggest Ad In the 125th Anniversary Edition Journal of Accountancy

By now, most of you who are AICPA members in good standing have received your special 125th Anniversary edition Journal of Accountancy. As you thumb listlessly through it, no doubt you noticed that certain firms took out large ads while others – true to their benchwarming status among Top 10 firms – took out small, […]

Someone in the Frazer Frost Marketing Department Didn’t Get the Memo RE: No Mas Frazer Frost

Last month we told you about the break up of Frazer Frost, a firm that was born out of the combination of Moore Stephens Wurth Frazer Torbet, LLP and Frost, PLLC. Turns out, the announcement made in November 2009 left out the part that it was just a ‘trial merger’ and after a year, they scrapped it for various reasons that included a) a ‘culture clash’ b) ‘issues in the Chinese reverse mortgage practice’ and c) well, those first two are pretty bad.

While it’s unfortunate when these things don’t work out, it would be assumed that everyone working at the firm would be acutely aware of the situation. A merger doesn’t exactly qualify as a “minor administrative issue” that gets overlooked. Nevertheless, a tipster sent us the following picture that appeared on page 48 of the December issue of Celebrate Arkansas.


Judging by this ad, you might get the impression that Frazer Frost was in fact still a firm and if one visits www.frazerfrost.com that’s when it gets hella-confusing:

Moore Stephens Wurth Frazer Torbet, LLP and Frost, PLLC are moving to resume operations as separate entities, as existed prior to their combination in January 2010. The combined firm, Frazer Frost, LLP, will continue to exist as a legal entity until the separation has been completed. It continues to be the policy of both firms not to comment publicly on client, personnel, or other internal matters.

Maybe we’re a little slow but if the two firms are “moving to resume operations as separate entities” but “The combined firm, Frazer Frost, LLP, will continue to exist as a legal entity until the separation has been completed,” we interpret that as “Frazer Frost is still technically a firm but in reality, it’s only a matter of time until we’re not.” It’s seems like a bad breakup where two people continue living together in a tense, awkward environment where way uglier shit gets said than during the actual break-up but they’re both stuck in this god-awful situation until somebody finds a new apartment.

Regardless, placing an ad in a periodical could be construed as misleading but that’s just us. If someone at the firm can explain it to us, we’ll be here. While we wait, if you’ve got thoughts on whether this ad is perfectly hunky dory or a little dubious, share below.

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Sunshine Suites

Wiley

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

KPMG’s Risk Management Ad Jumps, Climbs and Flies but Misses the Point

Just as Washington is finally passing a bill that will reduce unnecessary risk-taking by financial institutions, here comes this commercial from KPMG in the UK doing the opposite. KPMG parties like it was 2005 and sub-prime was a bad cut of steaks. The commercial celebrates risk-taking in a manner that only a BP executive could rationalize deepwater offshore drilling.

Almost everything is wrong with this commercial:


Its heroes, a man and a woman, presumably KPMG employees, are living in a risky world. Risk is all around them, from the moment they get up. But don’t worry. These two nitwits know how to engage in risk management. Mostly in jingle and parkour, in fact.

Wikipedia tells us that Parkour “is where participants jump, vault, and climb over obstacles in a fluid manner. Skills such as jumping and climbing, or the more specific parkour moves are employed. The object of parkour is to get from one place to another using only the human body and the objects in the environment. The obstacles can be anything in one’s environment but parkour is often seen practiced in urban areas because of the many suitable public structures available such as buildings and rails.”

The two heroes run, jump, flip over and take maniacal risks along the way to the office. Along the way the tag line, “Turn Risk Into Advantage”, is reinforced by embedded messages, in case we did not get the main theme”: “Know Risk, Know Reward”, “Do You Have The Risk Appetite For Success?” “Always Be Ready For The Unexpected.”

I actually like the “Turn Risk Into Advantage.” It is clever, memorable, and summarizes nicely what corporations are seeking in risk management advice. Yet it is completely overshadowed by the flip execution and the manner that suggests that KPMG employees, and by extension KPMG, take risks haphazardly.

Besides being out of context and lacking a narrative, the commercial ends on a cheesy note: upon arriving into the KPMG office and performing obligatory back flips, the couple race up the stairs, looks over the rail, look at each other, smile, and decide not to jump and take the elevator instead. This is a sensible move, perhaps the first one in this commercial.

Risk management is an essential practice, and perhaps as this advertising suggests, more in need than ever. Yet, it is not clear to me why the issue cannot be addressed heads on and intelligently. The irrelevant “packaging” simply detracts from the appeal of the practice.

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Sunshine Suites

Wiley

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Sunshine Suites

Wiley

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Sunshine Suites

Wiley

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Sunshine Suites

VideoEgg

Wiley

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Sunshine Suites

VideoEgg

Wiley

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Serenic Software

Sunshine Suites

Wiley

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Serenic Software

Sunshine Suites

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Accenture, Looking for Fresh Ad Campaign, Makes the Right Choice to Launch Review

As CEO of Avidan Strategies, an agency search firm, we constantly conduct reviews for clients who wish to switch ad agencies. The reasons for conducting a search cover the span of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes clients resort to spurious explanations for a review. Sometimes, the arrival of a new chief marketing officer is enough to precipitate a review, as its ties to the CMO’s predecessor taint the incumbent agency.

Yet, the Accenture agency search, as reported in this story by Advertising Age, is appropriate and well timed. Until the wee hours of last Thanksgiving, when Tiger woods slammed his SUV into a tree, Accenture had a solid ad campaign. Using Tiger as spokesman and symbol of the consultancy dedication to excellence was effective. Although not exactly relevant to Accenture’s offerings, Tiger was magic. He was the ultimate professional, an athlete that not only transcended his sport, but one that transcended all sports. Tiger was a rock star.


To its credit, Accenture reacted fast to the unfolding scandal. Within weeks it dropped Tiger as a spokesman and launched a new campaign, featuring animals in unusual situations to illustrate aspects of its service. For example, a surfing elephant to depict nimbleness. The marketer is trying to downplay speculation that the animal campaign was a “hail Mary” pass, and suggests that it’s agency, Y&R, had pulled it out of a drawer. I doubt it. When you sign up Tiger Woods to be your spokesperson, you don’t need a Plan B. You know that this is the horse that you are going to ride.

That said, Accenture is smart to call a review. The animal campaign was a good stop gap measure, but now it is time to look beyond the horizon and come up with the next big campaign idea that can last 7,8,9 years. Y&R has been Accenture’s agency since Accenture was formed in the mid-90s. While longevity is not necessarily a bad thing, relationships can get stale. So it’s smart of Accenture to cast a wider net. As a matter of fact, more and more companies now conduct mandatory periodic reviews, previously conducted only by governmental agencies, to insure that services provided are best in class.

I hope that the winning idea will not be apologetic. Tiger’s mess has nothing to do with Accenture, and unlike Nike, they acted ethically and wisely by dumping him swiftly. The new agency should focus on Accenture leadership equity, it’s commitment to research and it’s ability to manage complicated systems. As we are coming out of the recession, glitz is being replaced by authenticity. Businessmen, Accenture’s target, are under tremendous pressure in a tough bottom-line environment. The animals campaign is funny and warm, but perhaps too cartoonish for our time. A more straightforward campaign, with Accenture traditional warmth and humanity, is more appropriate.

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Serenic Software

Sunshine Suites

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Delta

Serenic Software

Sunshine Suites

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Delta

Serenic Software

Sunshine Suites

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Delta

Sunshine Suites

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Delta

Sunshine Suites

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Delta

Sunshine Suites

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Delta

Serenic Software

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Serenic Software

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Bisk Education

Serenic Software

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertiser

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Serenic Software

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertiser

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Serenic Software

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

John Varvatos

Burberry

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Thanks to This Week’s Advertisers

A quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Going Concern:

Chase Sapphire

The New York Times

If you’re interested in advertising on Going Concern, email us at advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Thanks!

Deloitte’s Ad Nails the Olympic Spirit

Every two years we go through the same ritual. Jingoistic flag waving, the non-stop talking head of Bob Costas, and a hyped-up athlete (Lindsey Vonn is this year’s model). Add a bunch of schmaltzy, sappy, million-dollar commercials.

Welcome to the Olympics folks, originally intended to celebrate pure (amateur) athleticism, and now unabashedly worshiping pure consumerism. The Olympics games party like it’s 1998. The commercials are out of step with the somber mood of the age, depicting faked optimism. The feel-good machine of Madison Avenue did not take a break even on the day that the Georgian luge racer died.

Perhaps that is why the commercial from Deloitte stands out among the cacophony of hyperbole for its sobriety and clarity. The commercial is straightforward and engaging: using imaginative line drawing to represent Olympics sports, it depicts the pure thrill of competing in the games. Delivering its message through titles only, it avoids embellishment with its almost haiku-like script: “combine perfect movement through time and space, with the heart and drive of a champion, and you are golden”. Simple, clever, to the point:


The spot does not try to draw a direct comparison between Deloitte and the athletes. The connection is implied, cleverly, by using the Deloitte “green dot” from its logo as the “athletes” in the spot. Brilliant. And of course the spot is made more effective because it is relevant to the games. Mark this commercial on the credit side of the ledger.

Bravo Deloitte.

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.

Pennsylvania CPAs Insist Accountants Are Funny in New Videos. Which Are Funny

The Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs is tired of everyone thinking that accountants are humorless, soulless, number crunching (did we mention green eyeshade wearing?) nerds, so they decided do something about it.

The PICPA has developed two videos to show everyone that not only are CPAs important business advisors, they can be creative and yes, funny. Despite where you fall on the comedic spectrum (Brian Regan, Chris Rock, Lewis Black, Larry the Cable Guy, Seinfeld, whatevs) you’ve got to admit that this is by far the best attempt at plugging the services that CPAs can provide out there. It doesn’t go the emotional route like Grant Thornton’s campaign or just miss the mark completely like BDO. This is purely for comedic value and it’s refreshing.

Granted, the PICPA is a professional association and not a firm so we aren’t expecting any firm to go with a Big Foot parody or 80s drug ads but let’s keep this angle fresh in our minds, shall we, accounting firms?

Grant Thornton Gets Emotional in Its Ad Campaign

This morning we took a look the deadly advertising at BDO and while they came up with a good tagline, they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity to personalize their service with actual clients.

In contrast to the utilitarian feeling of the BDO advertising, Grant Thornton is all about emotions. The most important statement that a professional service agency can make is that it is passionate for the client’s business, and Grant Thornton’s attitude is authentic. The firm is well defined by the tag line, “People who love what they do” and by the whimsical rose mnemonic.

The three spots in the campaign are not balanced. This one about customer service misses the mark. It is long and tedious and continues to run needlessly after the point is made.


This commercial extolling the global capabilities of Grant Thornton is better. It is well written and although it is not particularly visually arresting, it makes the point about the firm capabilities crisply.

The commercial about responsiveness is the best. It stands out because it uses humor and the analogy of the unreliable, hapless goalie is relevant and easily understood. All in all, Grant Thornton tackled the challenge of advertising a professional service firm well.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner will GT take the next logical step and extend their passion campaign in to special topical ad?

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.

BDO’s Big Ad Campaign: It’s Deadly

Advertising a professional service company is a challenge for ad agencies. First, the subject is not all that interesting, except maybe to the people who work there, their families, and their clients. And second, the differences from one company to another are minute. What you can say about one CPA or law firm is pretty much the same as another. You can’t advertise a firm as doing something better, the way Tide claims to clean better or Crest to whiten teeth better.

What can marketers do when they can’t make a claim that they are better? Why, write a jingle, like Coke or Pepsi of course. However, professional service companies have to maintain some gravitas. Schmaltz and accountants would be like wearing shorts and flip-flops to a client meeting.

We’re presenting some analysis of two current accounting firm ad campaigns, starting with BDO and tackling Grant Thornton this afternoon.

Analysis and videos, after the jump


The solution is to differentiate yourself not by what you say but through the tone of your advertising. And the tone of the BDO’s advertising is deadly, almost literally. It is dark, and cold, and depressing. And it doesn’t work because it takes itself too seriously. The conversations are artificial, and the situations forced.

In the following commercial, as two executives exit an unidentified intuitional-looking edifice, one person says to the other “Reilly hit the roof” about the need to restate. We never find out who “Reilly” is, but are reassured that “the partners are on it”, suggesting that BDO will not send in the juniors to fix the problem.

This second commercial deals with the switch from GAAP to IFRS. Why is BDO best suited to handling it? According to the commercial because of its global resources and because “it’s complicated.” Oh? Weak, pretty generic, arguments.

The best asset BDO has is it tagline, “People who know, know BDO”. That could have been the idea for a very nice commercial, maybe using real customers, but BDO did not capitalize on it.

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.

Accenture Loves Animals, Just Not Tigers

Thumbnail image for Tiger accenture ad.jpgAfter taking a stab at making the Tiger image still work and then realizing that the Andersen treatment was the only way to go, Accenture has rolled out their new advertising campaign.
Rather than take your suggestion that an ultimate fighter — with an accounting degree no less — would be the best route, Accenture has decided that sticking with the animal mantra was the best way to go.

The Journal spent 1,100 words telling us about the new Earth shattering idea:

After nearly a month of focus-group testing and production work, Accenture is rolling out the new global marketing campaign this week. The creatures, which include an elephant, a chameleon and some frogs and fish, will star in a series of TV, print and online spots.

One of the posters shows an elephant balancing precariously on a surfboard. The text reads, “Who says you can’t be big and nimble?” Another ad shows a frog leaping over three others, with the tagline, “Play quantum leapfrog.”


So the marketing team is sitting around, drinking bottled water, drumming on the conference table and suddenly, someone blurts out “You know, Tiger is man but it’s also an animal.”

Everyone stares at this fool that just said the stupidest thing they’d ever heard, “And?” one team member snaps back.
“Well, since everyone is used to Tiger, which is also an animal, we’ll just replace the man with animals that aren’t tigers. That way, people will still think ‘animals = Accenture is good’ but not ‘the guy named after an animal is a cheating bastard.’ Get it?”

The light bulb finally clicks on for everyone else. “You’re right. We’ll just put animals that aren’t tigers in the ads. No one cares if animals cheat on their spouses. Brilliant!”

Prior to this revelation, Accenture apparently considered jugglers and jump ropers. We understand this was five alarm blaze for the company but elephants on surfboards and leap frog was the solution? Maybe they’re just had the whole animal thing on the brain and couldn’t shake it.

But hey, what do we know? We’re sure it’ll be a huge success. Can’t wait for the Super Bowl commercials. Get those frogs to drink beer and then you’ll have a winner for sure.
After Ditching Tiger, Accenture Tries New Game [WSJ]