A New Yellow for the Wiggles

December 5, 2006

The Wiggles brand is back on track now that Greg Page officially retired from the kiddie super group on Thursday, November 30th. The ongoing saga has been put to rest as Greg’s mystery illness was finally diagnosed as orthostatic intolerance. (It is a condition which often makes him feel unbalanced and faint while standing because of a loss of blood pressure.) Luckily it is not life threatening, but it is chronic and will therefore prevent him from continuing in the Yellow Jersey. (Read my earlier post for more information.)

In a brilliant branding and PR move, Greg appeared in a video on the Wiggles website and made a ceremonial passing of his jersey to Sam Moran, his permanent replacement. A longtime backup singer and dancer for the band, Sam was Greg’s understudy for the past two years and filled in for him in the 150 live shows Greg was forced to skip due to illness.

Now that the brand is whole again, the future success of the Wiggles seems certain. What put the brand in serious danger was the missing Wiggle, the lack of information regarding his illness and the lack of media interviews with him. Nothing whips the media into a frenzy more that a missing celebrity. If Madonna walks the red carpet without Guy, the rumor mills starts up right away about trouble in the marriage.

Bono_1The Wiggles can survive a new guy in the yellow jersey but they could not survive a missing guy in the yellow jersey much longer. I’m sure there was a lot of fear and uncertainly over what to do since Greg as lead singer was so instrumental in the success of the Wiggles. Many critics doubted if the Wiggles could survive without him. Even I myself have commented on how disappointed I felt after showing up at a Wiggles concert where Greg was a no-show and feeling like I came to a U2 concert where Bono didn’t perform. Could there be a U2 with no Bono, could there be a Wiggles with no Greg? The answer is no and yes.

What enables the Wiggles brand to continue, perhaps even stronger than before, is the enormous PR attention celebrities command. Powerful brands have endless opportunities for PR. And PR is what helps resuscitate even fallen brands. Everyone wanted to hear from Martha after she got out of jail. Or Mel after he sobered up.

Just look at the headlines the new Wiggle got. It made the FRONT PAGE of the New York Times on Monday. That’s right, not Entertainment Weekly but the New York Times; that is how powerful the brand is. Now that the group is whole again, the guys are wisely making the television rounds promoting Sam and the Wiggles big time. After 15 years together the group had run out of much of its PR potential. So the new Wiggle creates news value for the group and renewed interest in the brand.

Had the Wiggles dragged this out, not made a decision on a replacement and kept Greg away from media any longer, it could have been devastating to the brand. I can’t even put into words the beauty of the passing of the yellow shirt segment. I am personally saddened by Greg’s health problem because I loved watching him. But I am glad the Wiggles are on thier way to a fabulous recovery and that my favorite Wiggle Anthony is still performing!