Morgan locks spurs on transparency

Transparency; an often repeated word that pops in everyday corporate life. Everyone accepts the need for transparency but when it comes to actual practice, we find it incredibly difficult and possibly even painful.

Morgan Spurlock, the academy award nominated documentary film maker needs no introduction to people in the US. He became famous (or rather notorious) with his movie ‘Super Size Me‘ of 2004 that was a hard hitting critique of modern day fast-feeding (read: McDonalds). His critics, of course question his methods at deriding the companies he targets. Despite die-hard fans and an equal number of detractors, one thing is for sure, you can hate him or you can love him, but you just can’t ignore him.

In this hard hitting but humorous TED talk, Morgan locks spurs with the hidden, but highly influential world of brand marketing. It is downright hilarious as he shares the video of his quest to make a completely sponsored film on the issue of sponsorship and transparency. It is quite obvious that transparency isn’t something that sits well in the world of advertising.

At the end of it he makes an important point that companies that are not paralyzed by fear of the unknown (consequences), willing to take risks, and most importantly embrace transparency, will be able to go a long way.

And I can’t agree with him more. Here is an account of GetFriday’s personal tryst with Morgan.

On 28th April, 2006 we received a request from Carolyn McEwen, the producer of the reality TV show, “30 days” asking if we would be willing to participate in an experiment on outsourcing with Morgan Spurlock. While most of the episode was supposed to cover IT and call center jobs that were getting outsourced to India, they wanted to include GetFriday also, if possible. Given Morgan’s reputation, one should have been wary to join in on any effort that carries the risk of showing the Indian outsourcing industry in bad light.

After some thought I sent back a reply to her a day later, expressing our willingness to participate. I reckoned that we had nothing much to lose, but everything to gain. Given that we were small, we decided to take a bold and positive approach to the whole thing. Our goal then was to handle things as honestly as possible, while hoping that it turns out to our advantage in the final cut. We kept doing Morgan’s work for about a month, while keeping our fingers crossed.

Finally, on 9th June, 2006, Carolyn sent a message confirming that the experiment was over. Am reproducing the mail verbatim without her permission. Sorry, Carolyn! But six years later, it shouldn’t really matter!!!

Hi Venky,
I’m finishing up at “30 Days” tomorrow (Friday). I want to make sure we have Get Friday’s address so that we can send you a DVD of the outsourcing episode once it airs. In case you have access to U.S. TV, it’s supposed
to be broadcast on Wednesday, August 30th at 10pm on the FX Network. There is a chance that FX will rearrange the order the episodes at the last minute, so I’d keep an eye out for it in August. The second season of “30 Days”
begins on Wednesday, July 26 and runs for six consecutive weeks. Outsourcing is supposed to be the last episode.

Please send me your address by Friday, if possible. Also, could you send the spelling of the fellow who was Morgan’s personal assistant? Thanks for everything! You guys were great.

Cheers,
Carolyn

Despite the fact that we were happy to have impressed Morgan’s team with our service, we waited with bated breath for the episode to air. It did and to our surprise it turned out to be the most balanced and honest view on the subject of outsourcing, both sides of the globe. It didn’t turn out into an episode of India bashing, as most would suspect. Unfortunately we didn’t get air time because the episode was too call center focused and we probably got edited out in the 30 short min. Here is a link to Actual Reality – 30 days, though the video has gone missing.

Looking back at it, we were happy to be part of such an experiment and have learned our lessons in not shying away from taking risks and being honest. Am a Morgan fan!

Sunder P
CEO

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