Ten Company Men (a Christmas Play in crazy verse from the Musea Vaults)

Ten Company Men

What if…Santa Clause, an angel or the three ghosts that visited Scrooge visited the ten companies that advertise the most. And after one harrowing night, scared them into altruism; showed them a past, present, and future, so prophetic and so profound, that they, as they say, ‘saw the light.’ It might…go…something….like…this…

1. SEARS Stores $664.6 million

2. Chevrolet Cars and Trucks $656.3 million

3. McDonald’s Restaurants $580.5 million

4. Ford Cars and Trucks $569.9 million

5. Dodge Cars and Trucks $551.8 million

6. AT&T Telephone Services $475.9 million

7. Toyota Cars and Trucks $453.8 million

8. MCI Telephone Services $435.0 million

9. Burger King Restaurants $427.0 million

10. Circuit City Stores $400.1 million*
Figures from Advertising Age and for 1997.

Total spending yearly by all 10 = $5,214,900,000. At 9.6% interest, that’s $500,000,000 per year or $41,670,000 per month. (All numbers rounded).

First, the CEO of Sears & Roebuck would (with everyone around the shining oval meeting table in the polished swiveling red leather seats) call the meeting of the Big 10 to order and in his opening remarks say:
“Last year we spent $5,214,900,000 on ads.

(And that’s no bit of undigested beef!)

But this year (he paced) I wax in another direction.
I, like you, have been met by…
things from the unearthly world.
And they made it clear to me that, that I…
(the other 9 mumble their “yesses”and “for sures” and “we know the that’s a fact” and “I commiserate with that”)
that the money should be better spent!


“To the employees of the advertising agencies we say:
“…And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation?
…The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor then?”
and they may retort:
“What shall we put you down for?”
“Nothing” we’ll quote.
“You wish to remain anonymous?”
“I wish to be – to be…I was always …we were always….
good men of business…Gentlemen!
MANKIND is our business this night!
(a bell twinkles)

“Now for the accountants to account our accounts.
Mr. Stewart of Stewart, Stewart & Capra:”
(an aside: “Are you Mr. Stewart?” “No, I’m Mr. Stewart!”)
Meanwhile, Ms. Reed, the secretary, comes in,
“Coffee anyone?” (before you begin)
“Yes, Virginia!” Cups filled to the brim.
“May I go now sir? It’s Christmas Eve.”
“Of course,” says the CEO, “But first a gift from me.”
(He opens a drawer and hands her a wrapped present.)
“And one for you.” says Miss Reed,
(pulling her gift from behind her back)
They unwrap. (the others watch)
And with delight both proclaim,
(Both in unison) “Oh how wonderful!”
“A set of combs!” “A platinum fob chain!”

“Thank you Ms. Reed and Merry Christmas!”
They all say goodnight, laughing “Ho ho ho!”
(One with a thumb to the side of his nose.)
And one with this caution on his voice:
“Don’t let the calls
that call this folly
call la la la la la,
la la la la.

“Now,” says the accountant
(the night is silent and all are showing interest…)
“What if we take the 5 bill, 214 point 9 mil
And put it into a bank, stock, or bond;
(Nothing we’re bound to, but something to ac-crue…’)
Chalk in hand he does the math:
“…with 9 point 6 percent per year gain…”
chalk, chalk, chalk
“…each month brings back this much in…”
chalk, chalk, chalk
“…rounded off to the nearest cent…”
chalk, chalk, chalk
“…500 million dollars – and the capital never spent!”

The 10 men all gasp – $50 million each!
[with bells on their footnotes – epistle mistletoes]
“What do we do with what has accrued…”
(asks AT&T and Burger King)
“…with the $500 million of interest?”
chalk, chalk, chalk
“41 point 67 mil a month
for this month for next month, for the months after that,
for now and forever… (and then? and then?)
“Hooray and away!” say 10 company men.

Mr. Sears:
We could give every man, woman and child in the U.S.
A 20-dollar bill each and every Christmas.
Mr. Chevrolet:
We could go into a new town each month and give away
the 41 point 67 mil and say
Fix your streets, feed your poor,
Buy bicycles, build houses or parks…
Mr. McDonald’s:
Have a party, do more…
Mr. Ford:
One month Tucson, then Boise, and St. Paul…
Mr. Dodge:
Vicksburg, Pittsburgh, Juneau and Sioux Falls…
Mr. AT&T:
And on and on it goes
Mr. Mr. Toyota:
Where it stops
Mr. Mr. MCI:
No one knows!
Mr. Burger King:
But wait! (the room hushes) Will this bring us good will?
Mr. Circuit City:
Good will toward men.
(altogether) “We spend.”
“Meeting adjourned!” The End



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