Personal Blog #1 – Undercover Boss

Undercover Boss, a new reality series on CBS, which premiered on February 7, is awesome, awesome, awesome.

The fast-paced, captivating reality series “follows high-level chief executives as they slip anonymously into the rank and file of their companies”.

Not only does this show provide viewer entertainment (who doesn’t like reality tv?), it also provides valuable marketplace research for the company (branding, imaging, perception, etc.)

Executives are given the opportunity to first-handedly, and unanimously, experience the internal culture of their company.  They can “get an up-close look at both the good and the bad while discovering the unsung heroes who make their company run”.  In addition, they can determine the level of trust and security employees have in corporate management, while interacting with a broad-range of stakeholders.

I came across this show last weekend while effortlessly flipping through the channels.  The name of the show caught my eye, so I decided to look at the summary of the episode.

“Hooters” When the CEO goes undercover in a fast-paced kitchen, he struggles to keep up, then is forced to take action when a manager steps out of line.”

Wow, I thought, this could be interesting.

Well, needless to say it worth an hour of my lazy Sunday afternoon, for a number of reasons.

Not knowing much about Hooters, I found the show very interesting (not to mention the restaurants chosen for the episode were from Texas).  I also was able to think about the show in relation to what I have been studying in graduate school.

The connections I made are as follows:

  1. Brand awareness/positioning
    Public – An entire hour dedicated to focusing on the company brand, what could be better? The length of coverage is superior to an otherwise 30-second advertisement, one that will generally-speaking not stand out among the plethora of television advertising.  It will also spark interest in the company, an opportunity for new customers, increased brand awareness, and it visualizes the “human-side” of corporate-level management.

    Company – An opportunity to gauge public perception to determine means to increase sales and promote a good image for the company.  In the case of the Hooter’s episode they even had the opportunity to conduct valuable “on the street research”.

  2. CEO and upper management visibility
    Public – Viewers of the show will become more acquainted with upper management and will learn more about company culture.

    Employees – Upon conclusion of filming, the employees will – in essence – have an increased level of trust, and a better relationship with company executives.  There is also a possibly for increased employee morale and confidence.

    CEO – Upper-level management will have a better understanding of all aspects of the company.  In the midst of day-to-day business and a hectic work schedules, it is easy for corporate management to lose touch with those who make the company a success.

  3. Presents a “we care” attitude
    Public – Upper management is actually going undercover to learn how to make their businesses better.  It shows the public they value their employees and want customers to have the best experience.

    Company – The company can learn more about their many employees and most importantly, they can gauge effectiveness of corporate policy, communications and decision-making.

  4. Audience
    – People watching CBS
    – Channel flippers  who stumble on the show
    – Customers/employees of Hooters
    – Other interested constituencies

I encourage all to watch this show. I’m curious to see the result of the next episode. Hope I haven’t over-credited the show, having only watched one episode. I also understand, a reality show will not provide all these insights, however it is a fun, non-typical way to promote a company, while providing an opportunity for the company to learn more about itself.

For more information about programming or to watch past episodes, check out the Undercover Boss online, or check out the show’s Twitter.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the show!!

Photo via weeweeyun on Flickr.

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