Five Prime Ministers in five years? It’s not a looking good for the Australian political brand.
First let's consider what all the flip-flopping is doing to the perception of Australia on an international level.
We are starting to resemble Japan during its tumultuous six-prime-minister period between 2006 and 2012 and look what happened to them. The economic bubble burst with flat line growth for the past 30 years. In that time they’ve had 15 different Prime Ministers and it doesn’t look like it’s going to improve anytime soon. The political brand there is of ‘puppet politicians’ simply managing the country without any reform or reinvention.
How does Australia’s political brand compare with the powerhouse leader of the world, the President of the USA?
The American economy collapsed only months before Obama was elected President, yet it has now gained nearly five times more jobs than under the presidency of George W. Bush. Their unemployment rate and deficit has dropped even though 30% of the population still think Obama is a muslim. He has, of course, the charisma of a true leader, a ‘force to be reckoned with’ personal brand and is a brilliant communicator.
The UK meanwhile has had it’s fair share of political turmoil over the years, but they recently re-elected David Cameron for a second term and Britain is after all, is the country with the longest reigning Monarch, ever. A reflection on the British brand that keeps calm under pressure.
Our nearest political brand rival New Zealand has been doing well for the past 7 years under the leadership of self made businessman John Key. In the time he’s been steering his country through economic turmoil, Australia has had six prime ministers and seven opposition leaders.
Instability can kill a political brand. Global crisis, disarray and a disliked PM who became a ‘one man decision making machine’ can only disintegrate any fragments of trust left. Human beings don’t particularly like surprises…especially like overnight switching of leaders.
Scandal can also wipe out a political leaders personal brand.
Profumo, Clinton and Berlusconi all testament to that. Yet John Key himself had his (fake) name appearing on the leaked Ashley Madison list and he’s still his nations leader. Maybe having a strong personal brand people admire provides teflon-like protection for politicians too?
The real problem with having so many changes in leadership for Australia is that the cultural brand is built on mate-ship, looking out for each other, working together to build something to be proud of. That’s why having to accept yet another Prime Minister being deposed is such a bitter pill to swallow. It’s a decay of the way Australians like to think of themselves and their own personal brand.
Fans can turn on their favourite brands quite quickly when they start to disengage from their promise. My Space, Nokia, Nintendo, Marlborough, Avon, McDonalds and MTV all examples of once great brands that people have now fallen out of love with.
Tony Abbot was probably right in suggesting the one thing the country didn’t need was another leadership change, but already the latest polls show 89% prefer Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister, compared to opposition leader Bill Shorten.
Proof you can’t force people to fall in love with your brand, consumers are fickle and they’ll choose whoever they want.
Tony Abbot's dumping is proof you can't force people to fall in love with your personal brand
Of course, flip flop decisions are nothing new to politics, we expect politicians to break their promises, but all this change could indicate that those in power care little about the people who voted for them and more about their position of power.
Malcolm Turnbull has just one year to convince us he’s a better man for the job and let’s hope he’s right as I’m not sure the Australian culture of being great mates could stand another back-stabbing.
How many politicians does it take to change a lightbulb?
One to change it and another one to change it back again.
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