Conchita | Down to Wurst

“No branding, no standing” say the admen, and this is especially true in showbiz.

May 2014 Austria was center stage as winner of the European Song Contest, that annual jamboree of national pride and pan-European kitsch. Whether the winning song was that great is a matter of opinion, but without doubt the singer stood out in the crowd: Conchita Wurst, tall and slender with long black hair, striking eye make-up and a well-trimmed beard.

This was an exercise in smart branding. A minor pop singer called Tom Neuwirth had catapulted himself into the charts and become the new darling of the boulevard dailies. It also helped that he knew how to behave himself in interviews and talk shows: measured, intelligent and sympathetic with a minimum of showbiz bombast. But he is also smart enough to know when to drop the curtain. March 8 this year he announced that she, Conchita, was dead. From now on, Tom Neuwirth will continue his musical career as Wurst.

Simon Ballam
English, studied in NY and worked in London, Düsseldorf, NY, Fankfurt, Prague and Vienna. This covered stints in market research and the film industry, international advertising coordination and strategic planning. Currently business school lecturer and journalist.

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