When recently visiting Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA I came across an exhibit called "Songs of the IBM". It's from 1930s and has a song called "Ever onward" which extols then IBM President T.J Watson. It was regularly sung by IBMers.

This seemed very strange to me because the only current leader I can think of having songs extolling his virtues would be "Dear Leader" from North Korea.

So my questions are:

  1. Was it common in the beginning of 20th century for companies/organizations to have songs extolling their leaders?
  2. If yes, when did this go out of fashion and why?
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    Fun question :) While I don't know if they extol their leaders, a number of Japanese and Korean companies still have "company songs". – coleopterist Dec 18 '12 at 5:10
  • +1 for the nice question and bringing up something that is sort of forgotten when looking back at industrialism in America – MichaelF Dec 18 '12 at 9:07
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    Here you find more information (including lyrics :) of IBM songs and their history, plus a reference to a relatively recent performance back in 2003. I've also known people at IBM (still active) who remembered some of these songs verbatim (perhaps from fun performances). – Drux Dec 18 '12 at 9:37
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    When coleopterist mentioned company songs, it just brought back the memory of a company called Aflack or something like that. Anyway, they were giving away toys that sang their song. Unfortunately, the sound quality wasn't very good and Aflack turned into Af***. :) – Russell Jan 4 '13 at 16:53
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    Internal marketing in US business culture still exists, businessinsider.com.au/… , but I'm not sure that lionising CEOs through song has been all that popular. – Samuel Russell May 12 '15 at 1:40

It just so happens that a marketing show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp radio channel did a nice history of corporate musicals, primarily in the US from the 1920's to the 1960's. The genre was borrowed from New York musicals. Give it a listen: You can download and listen to the podcast from the regular suspects or you can live stream it from the CBC site: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/undertheinfluence/this-week-summer-series-when-madison-avenue-met-broadway-the-world-of-industrial-musicals-1.3618080

The episode is called: When Madison Avenue Met Broadway - The World of Industrial Musicals. If you are interested in marketing, this is a great podcast. I always learn something. The website often has bonus material such as video, lyrics, and supplementary material.

Bradley Foster

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    I don't think that this really addresses the question (about internal corporate songs that extol the company's leaders). Your reference seems to be about musicals that promote the company and its products to the public. – Steve Bird Aug 31 '16 at 20:43
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    You make a good point in that I didn't exactly answer the question. If I remember rightly there was a reference to the IBM song in the episode, but it sets the context of the song about Watson. Other than political leaders, I don't know of any other song extolling corporate leaders. – Bradley Foster Aug 31 '16 at 22:00

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