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The Name Game

(originally published by Booz & Company)

Dear Monte:

Congratulations on another successful quarter at the helm of Amalgamated Smelting.

You kept your job.

You appointed an heir apparent.

You managed to blame all the most recent sales, production, and labor debacles on exactly the right people. (Namely, the heir apparent.)

And to top it all off, when you appeared on Moneyline to announce the layoffs, plant closings, and “unexpected” departure of said heir apparent, you managed to appear contrite, compassionate, chastised, unbowed, emboldened, and optimistic — all at the same time!

Bravo! Brilliant! Sent tapes/transcripts to all the usual suspects. (FYI, turned down an invite from Geraldo Rivera to appear on CNBC. Put out a fire: They’d somehow gotten wind of your Davos joke re international layoffs — “Women and children first.” Still working on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor. Better for burnishing your “common man” image.)

And speaking of other fires: I’ve received your recent missive concerning a corporate name change.

Monte, Monte: I know you want Amalgamated Smelting to be global. And younger, and hipper, and more cutting-edge. But trust me on this. All you’ll end up doing is spending millions to promote the new identity, squandering a lot of goodwill attached to the old, and in the end, you’ve still got the same company, and the same culture.

Here’s proof: I defy you to tell me which of the following are multinational corporations, and which are over-the-counter non-prescription pain medications: Aluna. Accenture. Aflexa. Agilent. Tempra. Abilizer. Metris. Momentum. Visteon. Triarc. Tanac. Equilon. Mobisil.

(Okay, okay. I know you don’t have time for this. So here’s the answer: Aluna, Aflexa, Tempra, Momentum, Tanac, and Mobisil are over-the-counter drugs. The rest are corporations. I still defy you to tell me exactly what form of commerce they’re involved in.)

My point is this: Boeing is still Boeing. GE is still GE. Ford is still Ford. And AmSmelt — Amalgamated Smelting Industries — should remain Amalgamated Smelting — no matter how much I could probably charge you for doing the press releases reflecting the name change to Metalocity.

Call me old-fashioned.

But I remain, as always —

The Biffster.

P.S.: Three other things. 1) As per your request, I got the founders’ children (the 56-yr.-old twins) tickets to Wimbledon. You’re all booked into the Dorchester for the last week in June. I’m putting together a list of local contacts — legal, medical, and public relations — in case Carl and Otto forget they’re on the board of a publicly traded corporation, again. 2) Heard from my guy in Dick Cheney’s office that George W. loved the cowboy boots — and couldn’t stop talking about the nine-color hand-embroidered image of AmSmelt’s facility in Midland. My take? Alaska, here we come. 3) Junior’s Independent Film: Okay. I’ll admit I didn’t expect the story of a supercilious CEO and his art-collecting trophy wife to be a smash at Sundance. And none of us could have foreseen that Warner Brothers would buy the rights to remake the picture with Mel Gibson and Jennifer Lopez. Short of acquiring the studio and putting it out of business (not practical), my advice would be to talk to the kid. With a few minor changes — e.g., changing the character named “Monte” to “Mark” — it could be about virtually any CEO we know. At least that’s what we’ll tell the press.

Yrs, the Biffster.


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