Pop culture tie-ins provide a corporate storytelling boost

Entergy, a Fortune 500 energy company, gave its April 25 periodic analyst meeting a No Country for Old Men theme, including dialogue and imagery from the controversial, Oscar-winning film.

In the news
Entergy, a Fortune 500 energy company, gave its April 25 periodic analyst meeting a No Country for Old Men theme, including dialogue and imagery from the controversial, Oscar-winning film.

During the presentation, Entergy CEO and chairman J. Wayne Leonard explained why he chose to tie the movie into corporate strategy and financial data. "It's a movie about the choices that we make, the rules we follow in life, the consequences of those choices, and being accountable," he said.

Although the company is enjoying high shareholder return, along with high corporate governance rankings, it is still seeking to qualm concerns over future business platforms, Leonard said.

"When I came to Entergy in 1998, we'd made some bad choices," he added. "One question was how long [would] we have to be accountable [for] some of the choices that were made in the past."

Why does it matter?
Storytelling can play an integral part of corporate and financial practices of a company. Entergy's analyst meeting demonstrates that a message intended for a limited audience can be a promotion of specific company characteristics and attract media attention.

Creating a pop culture tie-in can also be effective in communicating with the financial community if it remains relevant, says Peter Hirsch, global and corporate affairs partner at Porter Novelli, which does not work with Entergy.

"The business of running a company is serious, and there is surely little [audience] misunderstanding that it's anything but a way to inform on results," he explains. "It's not all that uncommon really, though certainly fewer rather than more companies do this."

Five facts:
1 When Merrill Lynch's site showed Sesame Street-style puppets above the headline, "Merrill Lynch Reports First-Quarter 2008 Net Loss From Continuing Operations of $1.97 billion," the media noted the mixed messaging.

2 LG Electronics' new 'Scarlet' line of flat panel televisions was promoted as a TV series through a trailer with viral and marketing efforts.

3 The History Channel and Ketchum documentary, Into The Fire, was made to draw attention to the underfunded Fireman Fund's Insurance Company.

4 Actress Jennifer Garner, the former star of Alias, appears on the Central Intelligence Agency's Web site to recruit new agents and promote the real CIA.

5 In June 2007, Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign released a YouTube video spoofing HBO's The Sopranos finale to reveal her campaign song.

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