Friday, August 22, 2008

Dog & Pony

A sea of red polo shirts and khaki pants, wending its way from downtown hotels and Big Redquarters to the Target Center. Today was the National Sales Meeting. Big Red flies in all the store team leads for a pep rally, but this is no high school gym-styled affair. It has very high production values, falling somewhere between a Poison concert and the Oscars. It lasts approximately five hours, and all the chief execs address the faithful.

To keep everyone awake, they give out awards and intersperse big-name entertainment between the speeches. This year, we got Josh Groban, John Legend, The Jonas Brothers, and Christina Aguilera. I feel so dirty now… I’ve seen the Jonas Brothers play live. One Jonas (I couldn’t tell you which) was playing what might be the dumbest guitar ever. Actually, it was a mandolin – a mandolin shaped like a tiny Gibson Explorer. F***ing hell. Last year was better, when we got Elvis Costello, kd lang and Tony Bennett.

There are other diversions. Free snacks at the breaks, goody bags stuffed with swag in each seat, and the Target X Games team. One guy did freestyle motorcycle jumps off a huge ramp and Shaun White skated a half-pipe. The whole thing smacks of bread-and-circuses. The speakers keep it upbeat, and the red polo shirts cheer in response, but the economy provides a bleak backdrop.

Still, we are doing better than most in retail and it does get the store team revved up, which keeps me in a job. HQ people like me are not what it’s about, anyway… it’s for the people wearing the red polo shirts.

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