Tag Archives: Lucy Kellaway

Songs for Suits

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Things are never so weird they can’t get weirder. Techdirt posts on a legal firm’s corporate song “Everyone’s a Winner at Nixon Peabody” which really has to be heard to be believed. I don’t guarantee it’s a pleasant experience, but it’s the only way to know just how low companies can go to get their staff feeling good about themselves.

But I frankly had no idea how many of these things there are out there. Techdirt links to a sadly now obsolete list of the best from ZDNet. And there’s hardly a big company that doesn’t seem to have one. Some companies trumpet them loudly to the world, with songs, lyrics, videos and sheet music (it would have to be a quiet weekend for someone to get out the Wurlitzer and start playing corporate songs, I suspect.)

Here’s one from Henkel (“And the story of success/Is based on more instead of less”). This was in 2005 named the best corporate song in the world by the Stevie Awards. (I can’t believe I missed that; I’ve not been following the Stevies as closely as I should.) The press release accompanying this dizzying victory quotes Ernst Primosch, Vice President Corporate Communications of the Henkel Group as saying “This confirms once more that we are on the right path with our ‘One! Henkel’ strategy.” It does, Ernst, it does.

Malaysia seems to be particularly keen on them, if these are anything to go by from DRB-HICOM, Penang Development Corporation, Park May Berhad and Kuching North City Hall.

So how do you go about writing and recording your own corporate song? Well, RedBalloon Days, an Australian website is offering a day in the studio for A$6,600 along with professional musicians and writers (you can only imagine what these pros must be thinking about their careers as they try to come up with words to rhyme with Peabody or Henkel.)

Of course, it can backfire. Shell wrote a corporate song that was so bad it was awarded “Company Song So Awful I Was Positive It Was a Spoof” by my BBC Business Daily commentator colleague Lucy Kellaway. She kept a copy of it here (yes, it is to the tune of “We Are the World”.) Lyrics here:

WE ARE THE BEST
WE ARE ALL WINNERS
WE ARE THE ONE’S WHO HAVE MADE THE CHANGE
WE’VE GROWN THE BUSINESS

You gotta love it. But not everyone does. Greenpeace’s blog said the song had become a laughing stock as it was emailed around the world. And Nixon Peabody seem none too happy their song has found its way into the public domain: They have apparently pulled the YouTube version and are apparently trying to get the MP3 file removed from Abovethelaw.com, where it was originally outed.

Which is a shame. This sort of thing, painful as it is, needs to be heard.

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What a CEO Would Really Write in His Blog

My fellow BBC World Service commentator, Lucy Kellaway, lays into Reuters CEO Tom Glocer as the worst case of vapid CEO blogging (via the BBC’s Richard Sambrook). Harsh, because Glocer seems to be a cut above the rest of the old media but she has a point: Blogs are about being honest and authentic, and I’ve seen few CEOs manage to do this. Although the results would be entertaining, if they for once did try not to please but to vent (which is the real distinction between a faux blog and a real one). Here’s an early draft of what a CEO like Mr. Glocer might have written if he could:

Had to fire half the news department today. Would have fired the other half too, had they actually been in the office. They weren’t; as it was 3.30 in the afternoon they were mostly unwell in The Ink Stained Spike so I had to get Mrs. Marpool, the Chief Hot Refreshing Beverage Delivery Officer (formerly the tea lady), to pass on the news to them. Doubtless the old fools will be telling each other war stories and mocking my blogging style. The savvier ones will be pulling up my MySpace page on their 3.5G enabled, beer-splattered laptops and making rude remarks about my dog. Bottom feeders. They’ve probably never heard of Debussy. Pffft.

God I hate journalists. The ones who were in the office sat staring at their Grecian 2000 editing terminals as I broke the news to them, either patheticlaly hoping I’d notice their dedication and spare them, or else because they couldn’t bear to look anywhere else. They’ve brought it on themselves. Ten years ago they could have bought a copy of Microsoft for Dummies from Dillons. But no. They thought they were all still safe, sacred cows in the face of the digital sandstorm (gosh, that’s good that. Might save that for the final version.) Journalists. They’re either gung ho foreign correspondents who can’t stop filing stories no one will read, or burned out subs with faces like a rhino’s armpit (gosh, that is good!) who take most of the afternoon to sub a palm oil report.

Anyway, good riddance to the lot of them. Nothing they could do that a floor full of eager Bangaloreans (Bangalorans? Bangalorii? Bangaloris? Bangalorish? Please check this before you post it on the blog, Edna) couldn’t do at a tenth the price.

Anyway, unlikely to see a CEO rabbiting on like that, so we should stop dreaming. Anyway, I’m still upset with Lucy for suggesting in the same piece that signing off an email with ‘best’ is somehow unacceptable. I do it all the time, although I fear it’s a throwback to my own hackish past, when we wrote our Reuters service messages (open wire emails, as it were, visible to all) in telegraphese, as if there was still a premium on word count. Hence “best regards” either became “brgds” or just good old “best”. I still do it, and will continue to do so until Lucy tells me not to.

Best, Jeremy