If Don Draper had made a right on Broadway instead of a sinister left on Madison Avenue, his career might have deviated significantly from the world of advertising. For there was a wackier (yet tangentially connected) world populated by moonlighting Broadway actors, singers, set designers, composers, and lyricists all in thrall to the modern American corporation. It was the world of the industrial musical. For those unfamiliar with the term, an “industrial musical” is best described as a corporate sponsored event (such as a convention or sales meeting) that incorporates the trappings of a Broadway musical with the messages of the free enterprise system.
As Media Loft celebrates its 40th year in business, it’s nice to know that our start coincided with what authors Steve Young and Sport Murphy describe as ‘the golden age of industrial musicals’ in their comprehensive history book “Everything’s Coming Up Profits.”
Industries as diverse as automobiles, sewing machines, and bathroom commodes were celebrated in elaborately staged and costumed productions that often required weeks and weeks of rehearsals, only to result in just a single performance.
Did you know that the same composer who wrote lyrics for “Fiddler on the Roof” also graced us with the industrial blockbuster known as “Ford-i-fy Your Future?”
Never heard of it? How about this classic from American Standard’s 1969 Industrial “The Bathroom’s are Coming” entitled “Look at this Tub.” In this searing ballad, we learn why American Standard is needed now more than ever…
“Look at this tub! LOOK AT THIS TUB! It’s dangerous and certainly a hazard! It’s positively lower than substandard! Everything here is lower class, Why, I could slip, I could fall right on my…nose”
The industrial musical fell out of favor sometime in the late 70s, though we know of a few stalwart corporations that are still entertaining their stakeholders with completely original song and dance extravaganzas.
While Media Loft has produced its share of ‘industrial musicals’ it’s more typical now to serve clients looking for high tech ways to impress, dazzle, and communicate with their audience.
[To learn more about the golden age of industrial musicals, check out this Facebook page, or this site where you can actually sample some of the music of the era.]