I went to a local grocery store today to pick myself up something to eat for lunch at my desk. I usually don’t go out to eat during the workday because it’s more expensive, I wind up eating incredibly stupid and unhealthy things, and I tend to wind up sitting next to a table of junior executives spouting buzzword after inane buzzword until I finally reach my boiling point and decapitate one of them with a lunch tray. That’s a misdemeanor in Arizona and the fines can be pricey, so it’s just cheaper and easier to eat at my desk while I surf the web.
Today, however, I was unable to avoid the MBA-moron crowd, as a couple of them had gathered at the grocery store’s Starbucks counter to share their business acumen. “Above all, it is crucial that we let consumers know that we are reinventing the brand,” said one of them while I searched the immediate area for a lunch tray.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve written about my dislike for the concept of “The Brand” before, but I’m too lazy to look it up, and since when has repetition kept me from boring people to tears? A company’s “brand” is the public’s conception of that company. For instance, the Apple brand is synonymous with “cool”, “elegant”, and “chic”, and that’s an important part of Apple’s business strategy because if anyone ever finds out that their products are made from baby seal placentas, the show is fucking over.
So a large part of the job for a company is to use advertising, marketing, and sometimes blunt force trauma to the head to get people to think about their products in a positive light. This is why you see ads like the following:
But here’s what you don’t do: You don’t talk about the fact that you’re manipulating your customer’s image of you for profit. That’s just fucking stupid. You’ve worked so hard to convince people that McDonald’s is a family company, even as half of your “family” has got fatty deposits the size of Buicks lodged in their arteries, why blow it now by talking about the deception? Imagine if they tried that shit with movies?
Bruce Willis: (covers bullet hole in chest)
His Wife: Nooo!!!
M. Night Shamalama-Ding-Dong: Hi folks! M. Night Shamalama-Ding-Dong here. Thanks for watching the Sixth Sense. We’ve worked hard throughout the course of this movie to make you think that Bruce Willis’ character is actually alive. But he’s not! He’s dead! That’s why the little weird kid talks to him, get it? Yeah, we thought it was pretty clever. Anyway, in the next minute, you’re going to learn the big secret: That Bruce Willis’ character is dead! … Although, I guess I just told you that, so you know that already. Hmmm… Maybe breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience isn’t such a hot idea. Fuck it, we’ll cut this out in editing. Never mind.
Leave it to the clueless MBA type to come out of school having retained only the buzzwords and nothing else. “Say, Thaddeus, what say we leverage synergy this afternoon, reinvent the brand, and value-add our way to the top?”
“Wonderful idea, Pemberton! Let me right-size our headcount first, and then we’ll focus on our core competency until we shift the paradigm!”
“Excuse me! Is anyone there? I want a Big Mac combo, with a Coke, and a 10 piece McNuggets. Hello?”
At the previous company that I worked at, we had some big, huge Town Hall event where a very excited management type dude got up on a stage in front of everyone and breathlessly informed us all that we had (hang on to your hats now) A NEW SLOGAN! I know I peed my pants with excitement, although to be honest that may have been because of all the grain alcohol I had to drink to force myself to attend stupid fucking shit like Town Halls.
Anyway, with a big flourish, the management guy revealed the new slogan, which I have not altered in any way:
Bringing new channels to market
That was the slogan. Seriously. Some queef in a business suit sat around in his office playing pocket pool for weeks on end, and at the end of that time period the best he could come up with was, “Bringing channels to market”. Kind of makes you wonder what ideas he had that didn’t meet his incredibly high standards:
- Melting fish with our minds!
- Cornflake sodomy Hitler cat!
- We don’t care for Mexicans!
The job I had before that one was very similar in that they’d hire buses to bring employees to a large theater where they would inflict management upon us. One management guy had been hired three months before, and it was with great pride and excitement that he introduced the sum total of his three months of effort. (I am not making this up at all, it was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard and I lost 25 IQ points just from having been in the room.)
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our business regions. We’ve got the Pacific region, the Mountain region, the Midwest region, the SouthEast region, and the Eastern region. Strong regions, all of them. But we can make them stronger!”
He then proceeded to rename the regions. That’s it. The Pacific region was now the Mountain Lion region, the Mountain region was now the Grizzly region, etc. Nothing changed except now nobody knew what the regions were called because their common sense names had been changed randomly by some asshole with a zoo fetish.
Stan in Sales: Hey, who’s in charge of the… Aw, fuck. Puma region? I don’t know, the one with California in it.
Lorraine: Oh, you mean the Porcupine region?
Darryl: No, there aren’t any porcupines in California.
Lorraine: Wait, what am I thinking of, then? Hedgehogs?
Carol: They’ve got possums out there, maybe you’re thinking about possums.
Me: THE PACIFIC REGION, YOU FUCKING MORONS! IT’S STILL THE PACIFIC REGION! WHO CARES THAT SOME FUCKER WITH AN MBA FROM WE-BLEW U WANTS TO CALL IT THE BUTTPLUG REGION? IT DOESN’T FUCKING CHANGE THE FACT THAT IT’S STILL THE PACIFIC REGION!!!
Stan in Sales: …
Carol: No, the Buttplug region is out near Kentucky, isn’t it?
This is exactly how office massacres get started.