The Changing Face of Communication

Communication. There is nothing more important in marketing than communication. Regardless of the message that you are trying to convey, if it is not communicated in a way which resonates with your audience then it is a waste of time. This communicative theme is forming the centre of tonight’s Liberal leadership spill and I think it is time the Liberal party turned to the entertainment sector for a lesson in good marketing.


Spoiler Alert: If you are a strong supporter of Tony Abbott and his views, you may not enjoy the parallel I am about to draw between the leader of the Liberal Party and the East German immigrant transsexual punk rocker, Hedwig.

Politics has much in common with a star-cast musical. They both have a message that is trying to be conveyed through gathering the attention of their audience. The message they are both sharing needs to be communicated in a meaningful way to create resonance with their viewers. And they both need the support of an audience to maintain an incredibly long run. But luckily for political parties, their job is much easier than that of a long-running piece of entertainment.

Regardless of how many people continue to pay attention, political parties are guaranteed a run of four years whereas entertainment is intimately linked to the attention of their audiences! As soon as attention begins to dwindle, so do the ticket sales which mean that a closing notice is imminent.

So how does entertainment combat this phenomenon?

Often their attention is based around the one big star leading a musical. This star has gravitas to share a message. They have an established following to tap into. And they have a presence which garners a lot of media attention. But like every lead, this star only has an indefinite period of availability and impact. At some point you will have reached majority of the potential audience members who want to see them perform. And at that point, it is time to shuffle things around.

This is exactly what happened with Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The recent revival of Hedwig, which close two days ago, relied on the magnetism of its leading star to compel large audiences and over the constantly extended run the producers employed all manner of stars to ensure that the message continued to be spread once the star had reached the end of their impact. They opened with Neil Patrick Harris, followed by Andrew Rannells. Then came the screen star Michael C. Hall before the original Hedwig, John Cameron Mitchell, took over the stage. Glee heartthrob Darren Criss shortly followed before Broadway star Taye Diggs finished the run. Each of these stars reached a different audience and communicated the message of Hedwig effectively allowing the show to maintain relevance and continue to attract audiences. But when their fan base had all seen the show, it was time to change things over.

When a communication strategy has run its course and it is no longer resonant with the general public, sometimes it is time for a change. A change brings renewed interest, a new and different direction as well as attracting a whole new audience. Adding a fresh new face to a production is a good way to enhance communication with potential audiences and supporters . . . a lesson which it is time the Liberal Party paid attention to.

So my message to Tony Abbot? There is something to learn from East German immigrant transsexual punk rockers!