Business Laughs – May 2008

  • Tuesday, April 29, 2008 5:31pm

When dropped by longtime client Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 2006, the video production company decided to find an aftermarket for its decades of archival footage of the retailer’s corporate meetings, the Associated Press reported in April.

It turns out that there is a huge interest in the videos “from plaintiff lawyers pursuing cases against Wal-Mart,” according to the AP.

Among the footage are scenes of “male managers parading in drag at an executive meeting” and other unguarded moments.

“Needless to say, we did not pay Flagler Productions to tape internal meetings with this aftermarket in mind,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Moore told the AP.

Flagler has said Wal-Mart’s legal options regarding the archives are nil because a contract wasn’t signed when the company first was hired by Wal-Mart, the AP reported.

Men in drag aside, is any lawsuit worth sitting through a corporate meeting more than once — especially when there aren’t even stale doughnuts and bad coffee to choke down?

Respectful last respects?

Well it was just a matter of time before “live” funerals became fodder for the Internet.

Reuters reported in April that a new pay-per-view service began operations in Britain, “allowing mourners who cannot attend services in person to pay their last respects via the Internet.”

Apparently, crematoria can charge a “one-off payment of around $150 for access to a funeral Webcast,” Reuters said. Mourners then use a password to access the Webcast.

Wesley Music is behind the new service. Its director, Alan Jeffrey, told Reuters that “families are dispersed across the world theses days, and sometimes it’s the case that someone cannot get home in time for a funeral.”

This new technological leap for the funeral industry poses an etiquette quandary, however. Where should one watch such a Webcast, for example? Is it disrespectful to turn on your laptop in between innings of a Mariners game at Safeco Field? What about during a conference call at work? And can you enjoy a beverage or other refreshment while watching, or is that a big no-no?

Emily Post may need to be consulted on this one.

Economic wrinkle

Apparently, not all sectors of the health-care industry are immune to downturns in the economy. According to Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar’s recent article in the Los Angeles Times, the cosmetic surgery sector has met with drooping demand in recent months.

In light of a slower economy at home, cosmetic surgeons are looking abroad to plump up their profits, according to the L.A. Times article, with Southern California doctors eyeing “European patients, who can capitalize on the weak dollar and combine their plastic surgery with a Hollywood vacation.”

I can see the travel brochure now: “Relax and rejuvenate with our beaches and Botox.” Charming.

— Kimberly Hilden, SCBJ Assistant Editor

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