Listen, Dan, I just wanna say, as a former Daniel who’s also made “the transition”, I think you’ve got a name problem. That is, no one knows yours.
The “Actually, I go by Dan these days” makeover was supposed to remedy all that, but I’m afraid you’ve been misled. For the sake of objectivity, let’s break this down in economic terms: in rebranding from Daniel to Dan, you’ve imposed a seemingly large efficiency dividend on your own first name. You’ve trimmed 50% of its syllables, hoping a leaner name might translate to a less stuffy public identity. But the truth is that reducing your vowel count by 66% isn’t nearly as radical as it sounds. Rebrands like this have, historically, been a waste of time and money. A minor name change won’t efficiency dividend the mustard here.
True, things could’ve been worse. I’d like to commend you on avoiding the pitfall of skewing too casual by not insisting voters call you Danny. Unless you’re an actor (e.g. Glover), fictional bad boy played by an actor (e.g. Zuko), or a woman (e.g. Minogue) any variation on the “Danny” theme is frothy nonsense. Furthermore, and you can trust me on this, suffering the daily indignity of being harangued by grubby kids (or, in your case, opposition MPs) chanting “Show us your capital works, Fanny Andrews!” is a PTSD time bomb you do not want to detonate.
So, what to do?
It’s one of the advertising industry’s oldest truisms: you don’t need to convince everyone to buy your product, only the taste-makers. The upshot is that if you fail to induce the cool kids, your product will stale before it ever gets off the shelf.
Dan is an affable, youthful name, even a little bit sexy. Dan is accessible to the everyman. Dan’s downfall, however, is that he exudes hardly any sophistication. And remember, Australia’s captains of culture — artists, tech entrepreneurs and boutique media bosses (aka industry “cool kids”) — have no truck with the unsophisticated.
So while Brian from Doncaster might think Dan is a “top bloke”, and Stacey* from Chemist Warehouse “wouldn’t kick him out of bed”, news editors don’t think he’s a particularly erudite policy strategist. What I’m saying, Dan, is you need to consider how you’ll appear to those who influence public perception. I’m saying you need to not be a Dan, Dan.
You need a name that will serve as a panacea to your reputational ills. You need something livelier. You need a name with real zing, pop, and spunk — but please avoid using any of those words specifically. Spunk Pop Andrews sounds like a fun guy, but he’s no statesman.
As a Dan who is fond of his moniker, I wouldn’t recommend abandoning the Dan thing entirely; in your case it just needs some exotic tweaking. But think Snoop Dogg to Snoop Lion rather than Amanda Rogers to Portia de Rossi. The latter sort, a total overhaul, is too jarring and will only confuse voters more.
With all that in mind:
It’s no secret that the Greens continue to wedge you on the youth vote. You can prattle on in Parliament about public holidays and TAFE cuts all you want. But when Gen Y voters habitually hit refresh, refresh, refresh on The Pirate Bay of a Monday night, they aren’t waiting for a torrent of the previous week’s Hansard. They’re not listening, Dan.
If you want this demographic to notice you, you first need to remodel yourself based on the kinds of people they do notice.
Which leads us to …
While the Greens try to carve out the youth vote, the Coalition is busy trying to grease Victoria’s migrant communities. As Crikey reported on Monday, the Liberals have been running non-white candidates in unwinnable seats, which smacks of a party desperate to shore up its multicultural credentials. This is known as “brownwashing”. An ethically dubious practice, no question, but politically shrewd, at least in theory. But because this brownwashing is isolated mainly in outer-suburban seats, the majority of voters probably won’t even notice. You know what voters will notice? A premier who brownwashes himself.
So there you go, Dan: just two rebrand strategies for you to consider ahead of (most probably) taking the reins as Victoria’s premier this Saturday. Mash a pun with a pop-culture reference, or exploit a sensitive social issue and you’ll be the Arthur Fonzarelli of Victorian politics before you can say “there will be no garden parties under the government I lead”.
*If you’re reading this, Stacey, please stop calling. Things are going well for me these days, and I’d really rather not rehash all that tawdry business.