Manchester and Marana, Arizona (no, I am not there, obviously): This week witnesses what is surely the single most aggressive, extravagant — and successful — marketing event in the consulting year, the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Fifteen years ago, I listened with sympathy to the bewilderment of one non-golf playing Andersen Consulting partner, as he described the scene when this sponsorship was unveiled for the first time at the firm's annual junket — grown men standing on their chairs, punching the air, whooping and hollering.
I wrote the couple of paragraphs above, give or take a tense change, exactly a year ago...and not much has changed, beyond tournament favourite Rory McIlroy going to Nike; the Accenture marketing juggernaut is still rumbling on.
And here is the full gushing Accenture PR pitch (if you'll forgive the pun). If you know what this junket costs, please let us, and the firm's clients know.
"From the first tee shot to the final putt, millions of golf fans in more than 224 countries will follow the 2013 World Golf Championships (WGC)-Accenture Match Play Championship with great interest when 64 of the world's best players tee it up Feb. 20 — 24. Unlike any other TOUR event, for five intensive days of match play these elite golfers will square off in head-to-head, single-elimination competition at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, in Marana, Ariz., just north of Tucson, marking one of the most exciting weeks of the year in golf.
"As the only official match-play event on the PGA TOUR schedule, the prestigious Accenture Match Play Championship is the cornerstone event of the World Golf Championships providing one of golf's most exacting examinations, testing the skill and nerves of these elite players. First played in 1999, it traditionally attracts one of the strongest fields in golf, and it also serves as the first WGC tournament of the season in a series of four global golf tournaments."
"Match play is a head-to-head competition that mirrors the global business environment that we and our clients must compete in every day," said Accenture chief marketing & communications officer, Roxanne Taylor. "We believe there is great synergy between the tournament and the mission of Accenture, which is to help our clients also achieve high performance." (That bit was the serious business justification by the way)
"The rules of engagement for single-elimination match play are clear and simple: win or go home. Unlike stroke play, which adds up all strokes from multiple days of play to produce a winner, match play is a hole-by-hole format that rigorously tests a golfer's skill, strategy and nerves. Players will match each other shot for shot and hole for hole on the 7,833-yard, par-72 course, culminating in a championship match on Sunday, February 24.
The winner will take home US$1.4 million of a total prize purse of US$8.5 million, as well as the sought-after Walter Hagen Cup, named for golf's greatest match-play competitor.
"The Accenture Match Play Championship is further distinguished by four 16-player brackets. The 64 players are divided into four brackets, each named in honor of one of golf's greatest players: Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Gary Player and Sam Snead. Players in each of the brackets are seeded No. 1 through No. 16, with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 16 seed in the first round, No. 2 pairing off with No. 15, No. 3 meeting No. 14, and so forth.
"The Accenture Match Play Championship will once again feature "Follow the Leaders," a program that allows fans to follow the players down each fairway during the Championship Match until the 2013 champion is decided. In addition to walking the fairways, "Follow the Leaders" will also give fans the unique opportunity to experience the crowd and view the greens from a player's perspective. All Sunday ticket holders will be invited to "Follow the Leaders" at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
"The Accenture Match Play Championship will be telecast live for a total of 29 hours over the five days of the tournament and can be seen on television in 224 countries. In the United States, Golf Channel opens Tournament Week by airing five hours of highlights from the 2012 Accenture Match Play Championship event Tuesday, Feb.19 from 8:00 p.m.-10:30 p.m. with a replay 12:00 a.m.-12:30 a.m. and will wrap up the week with an additional four-hour highlights program of the 2013 Accenture Match Play event Monday, Feb. 25 from 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Golf Channel will air 21 hours of live coverage."