Recruit, Train and Motivate: The History of the Industrial Musical

“The industrial show had its humble beginnings during the post-WWII boom. Two types of industries began experimenting with the idea: the retail industry and the automobile industry. As far as show collectors know, a department store was the first to jump into the fray – Marshall Field’s with Give the Lady What She Wants, a show celebrating the store’s history and anniversary, produced in conjunction with a published book of the same name. Even this early, Marshall Field’s started the trend of nabbing top talent to produce these gems – in this case a man named Lloyd Norlin, who would go on to pen shows for Ford, Pepsi and Hamm’s Beer. And to elaborate on the scarcity of these items, only one single copy of this record seems to be in existence. Fancy, big-budgeted, yearly auto shows had been around for many years prior, and with the long-play record coming into vogue in the early ’50’s, the opportunity to use recording technology for purposes that were longer than a 3-minute song must have been tempting for the major players. By listening and tracking the automobile industrial shows (released largely to promote new models) produced throughout the fifties, you can see how both corporations and composers gradually worked together to not only, say, explain some delightful new features in next year’s line of Oldsmobiles, but to get their troops in a selling mood.” Jonathan WardRecruit, Train and Motivate: The History of the Industrial Musical (Perfect Sound Forever)

A sample of the amazing lyrics from a Westinghouse show:

The new cold-injector sends a jet-stream of air –
To bring colder temperatures to all the foods there!
The cheese server, butter server, meat-keeper too –
Makes sure your food stays fresh, and stays in view –
And here on the front is a magnetic door!
But don’t run away ’cause there’s plenty more…

Rosemary Frezza heard about the subject from a recent NPR segment and sent me this link. I have read news reports about skits produced by politicians or comptuer executives, so it stands to reason that older companies would have been doing the same thing. And any fan of MST3K will have seen similar short film classics (such as the Chevrolet motivational drama “Hired!” or Nuveena, the woman of the future).

Update: Rosemary sends links to the full video for “Hired!” and “Design for Dreaming“. Thanks for the sleuthing, Rosemary!