Sunday, June 20, 1999


Thank God I don't work here any more.

In 1998, consulting firms Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand commissioned a song to celebrate the recent merger that created Pricewaterhouse Coopers. That brainchild emerged from Meint Waterlander, a spokesman for PWC Holland's board of directors. The firm also approached a popular artist to tackle that assignment.

Ruud Mulder, former guitarist for the Dutch funk/disco band Spargo, created "Your World/Our People," a decidedly anti-funk, male-female duet. Waterlander armed Mulder, who speaks impeccable English, with the "Your World" slogan and a couple of English phrases containing corporate-speak like "no more frontiers." Such "bullshit lines," as Mulder describes them, were really "unpoetic."

A particularly precious verse: "We don't sell no dogma. All we've got is skill. Doing each and every client's will."

The goal of the PWC song? "Team spirit," according to a proud Dutch PWC spokesman. The anthem even greeted callers on hold at the PWC switchboard. At the merger party, PWC staffers weren't required to sing the tune, just to listen and marvel. Mulder hired singers to belt out the melody at the party. Thanks to a CD single distributed to 10,000 consultants, spirited employees could sing along years after the event.

A PWC consultant in Spain offered some unsolicited feedback: "Instead of trying to lift our morale with song, they should pay for us to go on a trip to the Bahamas." Consultants from both PWC and KPMG voiced equally constructive suggestions. But by and large, they declined to be named.

And then, to our disbelief, this obscure little internecine musical skirmish got even stranger.

In March, Chris Raettig started a Web site devoted to corporate boosterism. Raettig, a 22-year-old technical strategist for Pumpernickle, a London-based digital-design studio, entertains visitors with a list of, and audio files for, some 18 songs. The site showcases a global trend, with older songs from the U.S. divisions of General Electric and IBM as well as newer tunes from software startups and Sweden's Ericsson.