I was recently at a private company event (not my company, I was invited, along with others, because we have a close association to that company). The event itself wasn’t notable, but there was one thing that really bothered me, before the event actually started, there was the usual phase when everyone is munching on the snacks and mingling. The food was some sort of green cupcakes with inspirational messages on them: “think positive”, “fitting the world to you”, etc.
All in all, I found that somewhat strange, but I didn’t really care, but I was talking with a few friends when a woman walked up to us and started handing out coupons for some free demo courses using a whole new technique, etc. I was quite taken aback. I am used to stuff like that on conferences floors, where you have booth babes doing stuff like that, but that was a private meeting of less than fifty people, and I couldn’t understand what was going on.
It helped that the woman kept dropping the same phrases that appeared on the cupcakes. That was later confirmed at the beginning of the meeting, where the presenter stood up and started by thanking the sponsors for bringing the food, etc.
Looking back at this, I am both appalled, amazed and utterly unsurprised (you can be both at the same time, it seems). That company actually sold sponsorship for an internal, private, meeting. I don’t really know what was the point, if they were trying to save money on the food or they were actually making money out of this, but that behavior really bother me.
I am absolutely for commercialization, if only because the bank would otherwise object, but I was utterly stunned by how crass it was.
What is next? Hiring employees for the express purpose of watching commercials while the company is getting paid for that?
More to the point, there is some expectation about how such functions are going to be, and stunts like that are leaving very bad impression.