June 08, 2009

Martyrs To The Cause

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the reaction of Mr. Cowen (Fianna Fail) and Mr. Gormley (Green) to their savaging at Friday's elections. They are, after all, the leaders of two brands that have grown further and further apart from their key customer, the Irish voter.

The term 'crucified' is bandied about quite a bit in politics but Mr. Cowen in particular is inclined to take it literally and is offering himself up as a martyr to the cause. Over the weekend, his account of what had happened saw him stop just short of raising his eyes sorrowfully to heaven and murmuring 'Forgive them for they know not what they do'.

Both leaders seem to be labouring under the illusion that they're somehow being punished for taking unpopular decisions. Yet one of the remarkable things about the past year has been the general readiness of the Irish electorate to take whatever medicine is required to cure the ills of the country. Votes against the parties in government have clearly not been a refusal to take our medicine but a reaction based on the perception that they have horribly mishandled the diagnosis in the first instance and have blundered about prescribing ill-advised remedies. In particular, Mr Cowen (who was our Minister for Finance before becoming Taoiseach) has refused to acknowledge his own part in allowing some of the more virulent strains of economic contagion in our banking sector to fester under his care.

Brand-owners who claim to listen to their customers and then dismiss what they have to say as misguided and wrong ("We hear you but, trust us, we know what's best for you") are always in grave danger of losing those customers forever. Not so deeply beneath the martyred expressions of Messrs. Cowen & Gormley lurks a contempt for the voter that won't go unpunished.

Despite their willingness to cast themselves in the archetypal role of saintly scapegoats, the triumphant, happy ending of political resurrection may not be as certain as the two leaders believe.

1 comment:

Lorraine Carter, Persona Design said...

I couldn’t agree with you more Gerard, loosing touch with your customer base to such a fundamental degree could only be described as immensely complacent or terribly arrogant. If ever there was an example of a time to reassess your current position, audit that space, consolidate and reinvigorate your offering to meet the needs of your market this is it. They’ve compromised their brand to such an extent they will have to reinvent and earn the right to be trusted, respected and listened to by their customers before many will even contemplate buying again.