As the communications knows from Steve Jobs as corporate pitchman, performance art can make the difference between a merely successful product and the ownership of a whole niche. He seemed to invest as much of himself in marketing as in motivating the troops to design and produce the right products right.
So, one thing Yahoo, in its turnaround, has going for it is Marissa Mayer. In her interview with FORTUNE's Patricia Sellers - which you can view here - Mayer is a show-stopper. She pulls together her celebrity presence, good looks, youth, confidence, and high-tech expertise to send the message: 1. Yahoo is on the way back. 2. I am the one leading the way.
There's where distressed H-P is at a disadvantage. Meg Whitman lacks the ability to get attention by putting on a good show. Maybe years ago when eBay was new and hot Whitman did have a built-in presence. But age and a failed run for governor of California have diminished her ability to ever be a pitchperson for anything. This is at a time of worsening problems, e.g. the lemon of the Autonomy acquisition.
Clearly, communications experts are wondering: Should troubled companies only hire turnaround leaders brilliant in performance art?