Gannett’s creates content own goal with spoof video

An often overlooked target audience for content marketing is internal – your employees need to be told a good and honest narrative in order to bring them with you on your corporate journey, wherever you are going. The same storygathering and storytelling skills that you apply to external audience-targeted content need to be applied here too.

One company that appears to have forgotten this is US media conglomerate Gannett, the owner of USA Today. The Guardian has revealed the company made the equivalent of a mother-in-law joke in a best man speech during a town hall meeting for its UK regional newspaper group Newsquest. At the time, the company was going through a bout of restructuring, pay cuts and redundancies across its UK publications.

According to the report, Newsquest employees were shown a spoof video featuring the Gannett board (badly) lip-synching to “Everything is Awesome”, a song from The Lego Movie, and playing guitars like Robert Palmer’s backing band in Addicted to Love.

The highlight of the song includes the following rap: “Turn that frown upside down/Hey folks, Gannett’s in town/So many websites, TV stations/Publications across the nation/Find a lead, meet a client/Make the sale/You’re a giant/Sell those ads, make commission/Ta-da! You’re a sales magician.”

On the surface, showing board-level execs having a bit of light-hearted fun can be good for morale. And to be fair, it was obviously a clip designed for the group as a whole. But as the rap makes clear, Gannett comprises a diverse number of companies in different locations.

A Gannett sales manager working on USA Today is going to have different concerns and opinions from a Gannett sales manager on the Bexley News Shopper. A common mistake in large corporations  is to assume all employees have the same emotional attachment to the mothership as to their own individual brands. One can imagine the unintended consequences of a film like this when your job is under threat.

And as the Graun points out, not only was the timing horrific but the actual Lego song, as anyone who has actually watched the movie will tell you, is meant to be a vicious and funny attack on mindless conformity and utter obedience in a totalitarian society in which everyone lives a la Brave New World or 1984. Everything, the song is saying, is in fact the opposite of the awesome.




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