Two minutes into this YouTube clip, if you can stand to watch it that long, you’ll see an old man in a bandana, doing a really bad Axl Rose impression. That man is Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, currently worth about $50 billion.
Why is he debasing himself in this way? Good question. It’s one of those excruciating, internal corporate video clips that American CEOs think are funny and inspirational, and the rest of the world finds repugnantly cheesy.
“We give great customer service”, sing Buffett’s employees at insurance company Geico in the video – although you’ll notice Buffett is never actually in the same room as them, God forbid: he clearly recorded his parts separately.
This kind of thing fills me with rage – music and brainwashed management-speak are not easy bedfellows, and there’s something about the concept of Managing Directors “rocking out” that feels like an affront to all that’s decent and authentic in the world.
Sadly, the smugness of corporate America knows no limits. In this clip, two Bank Of America executives sing a reworded version U2’s ‘One’, congratulating themselves on having merged with another bank, MBNA, in 2006 (“We’re one bank, leading each other to higher standards”).
Those “higher standards” didn’t prevent the company, three years later, requiring over $50 billion of bailout funds from the US government.
This one’s a bit more retro, and slightly more amateurish and endearing – it’s the employees of the Southern Food Brokerage Corporation doing something called the “super broker shuffle” (whatever that is). Check out the employee raps from 30 seconds in.
Less cute is this rictus-grin, team-building effort, courtesy of corporate behemoth Ernst & Young. Doesn’t it just make you feel all warm inside?
And how about this Springsteen parody by a bunch of sales berks from Microsoft, in which The Boss’ blue-collar rock is travestied in the service of client-facing, target-driven efficiency (“Quota is where your focus is/Gotta get those bonuses!”). Let’s hope they all got ruined in the recession.