A LOCAL company, and not an American company, is involved in the apparent rebranding of People's National Movement (PNM) political leader, Dr Keith Rowley.
This was confirmed yesterday by PNM sources who declined to give the name of the company involved, saying that they did not want the organisation to be victimised.
Sources pointed out that former political leader Patrick Manning also had assistance in this area and was able to transform himself from being viewed as the inexperienced "little boy" into the leader.
Sources said Rowley's challenge was to portray to the population a softer image, which the public does not know and which they need to see in order to make him more acceptable to every section of the population.
At the convention on Sunday, Rowley was dressed to show different facets of his personality. He first appeared at the convention casually dressed.
Then when he spoke to the convention, he appeared dressed in formal suit. After the speech, he changed into a red PNM shirt to socialise with the membership afterwards.
Political analyst Winford James told the Express that Rowley needed to do some rebranding of himself if he is to get greater public support.
James said he thought it unfortunate that Rowley, when he was part of Patrick Manning's team "performing the role of supporting senior minister....as the PNM man who could stand up to Basdeo Panday", allowed Manning to brand him as "the Rottweiler".
"I thought that was most unfortunate," James said, adding that a politician could not function as "an attack dog" or an "attacking speaker" all of the time.
"He allowed Manning to get away with that. If I were in his place, I would have killed that immediately, as soon as it started. Because there is more to Rowley than that. But having accepted the metaphor, even by his silence, he put himself in a corner. And so people now have that image of him. But he now needs to be prime ministerial, (he needs to be) somebody who can express himself with sobriety, dispassion and in a non-brusque way," James said.
James said even when Rowley did portray these qualities, people tended not to focus on that, but rather on when he was being more aggressive. "But people don't want aggression all of the time, because after a while it can jar. So there is a need for him to remake himself," he said.
James also said Rowley needed to smile more since he was hardly seen to be smiling or laughing in public. "Those are areas they need to work on — make him laugh a little more," he added.
However, James said as he listened to Rowley's address on Sunday, he thought that Rowley was making "a gallant attempt, not to have as aggressive a tone and to be suave in some areas of the speech".
Noting that Rowley's naturally hoarse and husky voice would make him come across as "bullish or rough", James said: "If he is to carry the role of Prime Minister-in-waiting, he can't always come across in that way and there are times he has to temper his tone."
James said at Sunday's convention there was an attempt to paint Rowley as a family man. He said one indication of that was his entrance in the convention hall with his wife Sharon, and both of them waving to the audience. He said his wife giving a speech in full support of Rowley was part of that attempt to give the nation a sense of the man behind the public persona.
James noted that Manning and his wife Hazel had always been a public item even before Hazel Manning went on to become a Minister of Government.
James said this was in contrast to previous PNM leaders. He noted that Juliana Chambers (deceased) was not interested in politics and Eric Williams's public appearances included his daughter, not a wife.