Creative Accountants Need King Canute

There is a rather large advertisement in today’s Vancouver Sun. At the center of the full-page is the following:

creative accountants

I was struck by those words at the center of the ad:

CREATIVE ACCOUNTANTS should no longer be used to describe book cookers, liars, little men in little rooms helping rich crooks get richer, or downright cheaters.

cma creative accountants
It is true that The Society of Management Accountants of Canada has applied for a Canadian trademark. If granted they, and only they, will have the right to use the trademark above on products they sell and on a series of services covering the following:

  • Establishing and enforcing guidelines
  • training and educating
  • disseminating information
  • promoting and representing the interest of management accountants

Their new website,, (unfortunately in Flash), is really only new packaging around their existing resource-full website for Certified Management Accountants of Canada.

So why bring in King Canute? Well perhaps he might have counseled the CMA to go for some other trademark. As he tried to tell his advisers, sometimes you cannot turn back the tide. Just look at what Wikipedia offers as a definition of creative accounting.

Creative accounting and earnings management are euphemisms referring to accounting practices that may or may not follow the letter of the rules of standard accounting practices, but certainly deviate from the spirit of those rules. They are characterized by excessive complication and the use of novel ways of characterizing income, assets, or liabilities. The terms “innovative” or “aggressive” are also sometimes used.

It would seem the battle has been lost already. An appropriate choice of domain name is always a first consideration in doing a website review. is certainly a bold initiative but would seem to carry too much baggage to be the right long-term choice.

Related: SWOT That Domain Name

10 thoughts on “Creative Accountants Need King Canute”

  1. Hi Barry, Thank you for sharing this delightful little post. I would not have seen the news paper article otherwise. Yet, I think it is rather strange that, since the name is known to describe people who might fundle… you know what I mean, is chosen to be a trademark name for the accountants. Strange.. Maybe a marketing trick, but, well, it is just pretty odd. Looking at the newspaper snippet, I think they are using it as marketing. In that case, I think it has an effective and humor touch which may work for them.

  2. I agree. If it’s only intended as a marketing trick to get attention, then it’s certainly humorous. Like something you might put up on April 1. It’s an approach that is sometimes called ‘linkbait’.

    However the investment in a trademark seems to invest it with some view that it’s a longer term approach to winning back the concept so that only the CMA can use it. That is a questionable decision in my view. Buying the domain and doing a little Internet marketing on that would have been a much better way to go.

  3. Yeah it could be linkbait in which you could see the humor, but if it’s not….well it makes you wonder who thought of it and why do they still have a job? Maybe it’s something else that we just don’t see, but kinda iffy for me.

  4. Choosing a correct domain for your website is sometimes annoying as you dont get the one you’re looking for as it is already in use. Well the one you chose is a bit bold but not bad.

  5. I’m sure in this case there was no competition for I would have thought the traditional versions of such accountants have no wish to be too visible.

  6. They were also running a TV spot with the same message on the CBC News channel. When I first saw, my reaction was they should get a new marketing agency.

    As with any marketing campaign – timing is everything. With the sub-prime fiasco and the arrests at Bear Sterns, the public is not going to see this as ‘tongue in cheek’ but rather it will just bring up the old negative stereotypes.

  7. Here is a double wammy! On one hand it is an unfortunate name and could put some people off, but on the other the PR and free marketing they have got from this name is immense. Even this post is selling the services of this company, because we are talking about it.

    It reminds me a bit of “rent a wreck” in australia 20 years ago. The name itself was enough to get people talking.

    I think this will be a winner. Also how many people would search for a creative accountant? So they will be found on the internet


  8. You’re right, Mark. If you’re sufficiently outrageous, people will talk about you.

    Viewed as a short term viral marketing campaign, it’s a reasonably good way of getting noticed. However I would suggest that next year they may wish to switch to something else. They will not change the common perception of what creative accounting is all about. If that’s what they want to say they’re doing, then so be it.

  9. Great post. Thanks for sharing the information. I think they are trying to be humorous. Nothing else. I will visit this site again to see the comments. Thanks for great post.

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