The Change Book – a short theatre scene

This is a fairly shocking theatre piece which premiered as part of Death by PowerPoint, a play which played in the UK and Canada 2007-2009. It explores the alarming closeness of propaganda to advertising. It’s an ideal piece for exploring values in PR, Marketing and Advertising.

A scene setting in a company, between a senior executive and a trainee

(Enter Dan and Jill. Dan is holding an old book)

Dan: Yes, it is quite an old book and all I have done is replace some of the more old fashioned words with more modern ones.

Jill: I see and you think this is relevant to our new change programme?

Dan: Well, you decide. You know I think we need to look at our underlying values as part of this change programme so I have been doing some background reading. How about this:

(reading): “Every change campaign will first have to divide the programme into two large groups: supporters and members. “Advertising has the key function of attracting interest and support, the function of organisation is to get buy-in.”

Jill: That’s neatly put.

Dan: “A supporter of a campaign is one who declares himself to be in agreement with its aims, but buy-in only occurs when someone actually commits.”

Jill: True.

Dan: “The supporter is made most amenable to the change campaign by advertising – “selling the change”, if you like. The member is induced by the organisation to participate personally in attracting new supporters, from whom in turn more buy-in can be developed.”

Jill: Just like our network marketing strategy. It kind of spreads itself.

Dan: Exactly

Jill: Interesting. It rests on loyalty.

Dan: Yes it does. Complete Loyalty. “Since being a supporter requires only a passive recognition of an idea, while getting loyal buy-in requires active advocacy and defence, to ten supporters there will at most be one or two members.”

Jill: Yes, advocacy and defence!

Dan: There’s more. Listen: “Being a supporter is rooted only in understanding, membership in the courage personally to advocate and disseminate what has been understood.”

Jill: Taking ownership.

Dan: Yes, Now – get this bit: “Understanding in its passive form corresponds to the majority of mankind which is lazy and cowardly. Membership requires an activistic frame of mind and thus corresponds only to the minority of people..”

Jill: Lazy and cowardly. That’s a bit harsh isn’t it?

Dan: Well, yes. But we rely on it don’t we. Our advertising often plays on the fears of external customers. Insurance polices for example.. “Can you afford not to…” “What happens if the worst happens…?” blah blah blah.

Jill: Yes, and with our I.T, we do try to make it very easy for people to buy our stuff. They don’t even need to get out of their arm chairs really…

Dan: “Leaders will have to see that an idea wins supporters, while the organisation must take the greatest care only to make the most valuable elements among the supporters into members…while the organisation must carefully gather from the mass of these elements those which really make possible the ultimate success of the change campaign.”

(Dan puts the book down)

Jill: Well I like this stuff. It makes a lot of marketing sense even if it IS from an old book.

Dan: Yes, I can see you are impressed.

Jill: They should republish it. Who wrote it? What’s the title?

Dan: The title is: Mein Kampf. The author: Adolf Hitler.

(Jill is shocked)


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