The year was 1987. In a year that saw the release of great musical albums such as U2’s Joshua Tree and Michael Jackson’s Bad, we were introduced to the sultry smooth sounds of a new singer, Terence Trent D’Arby and his album, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby.
In 2013, everyone in the musical world knows of U2, who continue to tour today and, of course, rock royalty in the Prince of Pop, Michael Jackson. Terence Trent D’Arby … not so much. After two songs that charted, he was never heard from again on the American side of the Atlantic Ocean. So why talk about him now? Well, Mr. D’Arby, who now goes by Sananda Maitreya, is back to releasing albums in the U.S., and he is highlighting an interesting corner of the public relations world–the comeback.
As CEO of 5W Public Relations, Ronn Torossian has seen it all. But one of the hardest feats to achieve, especially in the pop culture industries of acting, singing, and sports, is the successful comeback. Anyone who’s worked in these fields know that the public can be fickle, and too much time spent away from the limelight results in an artist’s future being as either a trivia question, or eventual gigs on the “you knew them when” circuit.
But Mr. Maitreya is hoping to fight against the odds on two different fronts, which raises some interesting points about fame and public perception. In a previous article, Ronn Torossian discusses public relations and self branding, something Mr. Maitreya must understand in his comeback attempt.
Coming back is hard to do, though it has been done before many times, aided by the fact that the re-rising star disappeared and came back harder than before, aided by nostalgia. Quentin Tarantino was credited with reviving the long-dead career of the once huge John Travolta after he was cast in Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece Pulp Fiction. Similarly, and much more recently, aided by social media, we saw the return of Betty White, who had only landed small walk-on roles after her success with The Golden Girls for almost 15 years before she was thrust forward again and began topping the list of big celebrities.
But in the cases of John Travolta and Betty White, they were still around, and their previous work continued to get play, while that can’t be said about Terence Trent D’Arby. Also, they remain John Travolta and Betty White, while Mr. Maitreya is going through a full name rebranding. Coming from obscurity and coming back with a new name cancels out much of the nostalgia factor that an act like this would be looking for.
From a public relations standpoint, this looks to be quite the uphill battle for Sananda Maitreya. However, it is worth pointing out that if there is one thing the American public likes, it’s a good underdog story, especially when it’s a redemption story as well. Only time will show us what is to be, but maybe Mr. Maitreya just needs a “Wishing Well.”
For more information on Ronn Torossian and 5WPR, click here.