Have you ever worked for a company with its own corporate anthem? It would probably have to be a fairly large outfit; I don’t think a smaller shop would be able to afford such a thing, even if they somehow decided that they needed one. (Here’s some advice: if your small or medium-sized company rolls out its own song, strongly consider hitting the exits if you can. That’s the sort of mindless expenditure that only a behemoth can get away with).
I’ve encountered one of these, in one of my former positions. We were having some big site-wide meeting, and one of the honchos introduced the video clip. There are whole agencies who do these things – they write the songs, hire people to sing them, produce the video, and so on, and the product of one of these bizarre production companies was what we got to see.
And what a sight it was. A perfectly calibrated multiethnic assembly began to belt out our new company song with verve and enthusiasm. There were plenty of solo shots and different camera angles. It was all about dreams and teams, visions and decisions, exceeding and succeeding. The singers grinned, looked confidently up into the future, and joined hands as they got to the chorus. I watched all this with mounting dismay and horror, wanting to clap my hands over my ears, both to shut out the music and to keep my soul from trying to flee my body via my Eustachian tubes.
I don’t think that this was the reaction the song was meant to elicit, but I didn’t seem to be alone. As I left the auditorium with some of my fellow chemists, we speculated on whose idea this anthem might have been, how much it had cost, on whether the firm that produced it was from North Korea or not, and wondered how the experience of listening to it might have affected our lifespan and fertility. One of my group said that there surely must have been better songs available, and suggested that he personally would have been much more motivated by AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”.
I had to agree; that would have done it for me, too. I started imagining a re-take of the video: the same blue backdrop, one of our executives striding out, giving the camera a manly smile, and saying: “Yes, here at _____ Pharmaceuticals, we truly are on a Highway To Hell. Won’t you join us?” The same happy singers would come streaming out from both sides, swinging into the chorus. . .oh, that would have been much better. And overall, rather more accurate than all that “driven by our vision” stuff, too, now that I think about it.