I don’t quite know what to make of the new touchy-feely CEO paradigm. What has happened to the traditional model of CEO: a raging egomaniac demanding more shareholder value no matter how miserable it made his employees. That’s the devil you know.
But big corporations are people, too, as you may recall, and apparently, they are all run by George Bailey, brimming with Sensitivity and Caring.
McDonald’s signs encourage us to love one another in various creepy ways. Sure, it’s an ad campaign, which makes it even creepier, but all those “love” marquees would be more at home on the front lawn of a Baptist church in rural Georgia than a fast-food chain. “Get Some Lovin today!” screams the one near my house. Dangerously near my house, since you ask.
OK, first off, Ewwww. Second off, I just want a $1 iced tea; I don’t want Ronald to ask me to the prom. McDonald’s lovin’ campaign was designed to get customers to do good deeds. They gave away free meals if you would “call your Mom and say I love you,” for instance.
McDonald’s wanted to use the pay-it-forward warm fuzzies to make you happy to eat there. But they forgot that the kid dies at the end of the movie. Nuff said.
And then, there’s Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, bless his heart. He has had to backtrack from that freaky notion to have his staff deliberately start discussions about modern-day racial intolerance with customers. It was a colossally bad idea. (“OK, here’s your triple foam mocha latte and, just spitballin’ here, what do you think we should do about the racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and beyond?”)
These sorts of racially charged discussions should only be held in the places where we traditionally expect them. That’s right. At the Thanksgiving dinner table when your hick cousins show up wearing their matching “I Speak Duckenese” T-shirts.
And now, we have Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, who has written a very earnest, and somewhat self-serving, op-ed piece decrying that wackadoodle legislation that Indiana, etc. was considering in order to protect the poor, beleaguered homophobic caterers and florists. The nerve of those gay couples coming into their stores and wanting wedding cakes and calla lilies just like they were Normal People.
Of course, you shouldn’t be forced to accept their “gay money.” It’s different, just like they are. Why, if you hold a gay $20 bill up to the light, you will see a winking Bette Midler’s face, not Andrew Jackson’s. Everybody knows that.
Cook meant well, I suppose, but I’m not sure he was the very best person for the job, given Apple’s chummy business relationship with China, where there ain’t no such thing as Freedom Fries and never will be.
It’s like the Good Book says: “Don’t fret about the mote in your neighbor’s eye when you have thousands of sleep-deprived workers producing next-gen iPhones for a bunch of spoiled American brats.”
Or something like that.
CELIA RIVENBARK is the New York Times bestselling author of “Rude B****** Make Me Tired.” Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.