09/13/2012 05:32 EDT | Updated 11/13/2012 05:12 EST

Rebrand: Bev Oda's Rep Needs Some TLC


Bev Oda's back in the news.

Every once in a while, we brand consultants get ourselves what we call a "trainwreck" -- a bona fide, dyed in the wool, gong show of a client. And we roll up our sleeves and get to work. In my career, I have had a couple of those clients and love 'em or hate 'em, they always make for excellent case studies.

Such is the case of the "in the headlines again this past week" Bev Oda -- she's just not getting a break is she? And so, I surmised that maybe she needs some help to get her out of this and send her on her way to a fresh start.

"Ready for a rebrand" Bev Oda could fill a wheelbarrow with "what not to do" in a government role messes. She's a high profile, seemingly smart woman (before elected to office) and a heady combination of former Federal Minister and a trainwreck all in one -- love it!

And, she's from Thunder Bay to boot -- my hometown, don't cha know -- I think that I went to school with her son or nephew or whatnot.

That not withstanding, what to do with Bev Oda... hmm, well she was a schoolteacher in a past life, so she could go back to that in some capacity but, with the only $52,000 in pension payments (doesn't go far when you are addicted to pricey hotels) that she's collecting annually for her (ahem) good work as a cabinet minister, she may want to pursue another line of work to supplement it.

So, let's blue sky and get Oda back on track for a new stage in her life -- the "pay for it yourself" stage. Let's start with the barriers to success in rebranding Bev.

In 2012, she decided to skip The Grange Hotel (the official hotel of a London conference that she was attending) in favour of the far pricier Savoy Hotel, yes that Savoy, while attending a conference on immunization of poor children. Really Bev, you are a smart lady, you had to know that the optics of that one were shady at best.

In what can only be described as weird, she allowed her obvious affection with all things limo to get the better of her over the years -- hiding $17,000 in limo charges in 2008, charging over $5,000 in limo rides during the Junos in 2006 in Halifax -- where the hell did you go, Newfoundland and back during that time?

And then, there's that debacle with the altered memo regarding CIDA funding for Kairos. We may never get the truth on that one.

But, like a good soldier, General Harper stood by his gal for much of these headwinds -- it was only after that now famous Savoy episode that the PM decided that she had to go. Really Harper, did ya think that we Canadians wouldn't notice that maybe Oda was getting a little big for her proverbial britches?

So, it would appear that there are a number of barriers to success here, the least of which is that now iconic photo of Bev that appears everywhere in the media and is of her at her very worst with a ciggie hanging out of her mouth and a murderous look in her eye.

The good news is that her Wiki page is quite lengthy, the bad news is that almost all of it is filled with a section called "Scandals" -- sigh! And, if you Google her, the first two pages (at least) are filled with nasty headlines.

So, back to those barriers...

They are pretty big

Pretty thorny

Tough to get around

This will require some "out of the box" thinking... I have it! There's a simple solution to all of this and we avoid an onerous rebranding entirely.

I'll get on the phone, call the PM and get our Bev into the Senate -- we all know that there is a spot opening up soon if the powers that be will do the decent thing and recuse Joyce Fairburn. She deserves better than to be stuck in this "paralysis by analysis" crap that she is currently in.

Voila, Bev gets a new role, doubles her pension and no one really checks up on those guys so she's free to resume her old habits. Who knows, she may even get in a couple of limo rides while she's a bona fide member of this August group

I love it -- problem solved!