Jane Lewis examines the comeback of the corporate anthem
2002 will hardly go down as a stellar year for business ethics but, when it comes to trumpeting corporate values, it can only be described as evergreen. In defiance of fraud, financial fiddling and encircling market gloom, corporate anthems have made the kind of comeback that most ageing rockers can only dream of.
Who cares about falling sales, slashed pensions and crumbling managerial edifices, when you can rally morale with a syncopated light rock blinder that en-cap-sul-ates your vision, yeah, and ultimate dest-in-ee?
As with all showbiz dreams, the craze for corporate anthems - which hit fever pitch around April this year - can boast truly humble beginnings.
Inspired by a chance hearing of KPMG's punchy number, Our Vision of Global Strategy ('We're as strong as can be/A dream of power and energy'), London-based web programmer Chris Raettig decided to create "a compendium of corporate cringe" and post it online.
The tunes he found were so bad, they were actually "rather good", he claims. "Rather like movies that are so execrable they acquire a cult-like status." You can say that again. Word of Raettig's compendium - featuring classics from IBM, Deutsche Bank, Ericsson, McKinsey & Co, and Monday, the consulting arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers sold to IBM, among others - spread so quickly that within weeks, the site had crashed due to over demand.
No doubt realising a great marketing opportunity, the technology newsletter ZDnet took over the project and began compiling an official top 20 based on visitors' votes. The upshot, notes one commentator, was a kind of "Pop Idol for management consultants". When Ernst & Young released a track entitled We're Gonna be Number One, suspicions were aroused that it had been recorded specially for the anthem chart.
Nonetheless, the volume of visitors to the site - particularly those who actually took the trouble to download their favourite tunes - had now assumed gargantuan proportions.
The most popular download choice, McKinsey & Co's stirring McKC, notched up some 26,000 downloads. As ZDnet's chart maestro Peter Judge pointed out, the song's popularity was such that, had it been translated into record sales, it would have been propelled into the top 10 of the UK charts (according to figures quoted by the Official UK