Employee training in retail is essential but sometimes good intentions of creating a fun video to appeal to new employees can backfire. Granted, not everyone can be an actor, but integrating songs and dances instead of giving practical advice usually makes for campy videos that are more entertaining than helpful.
Here are some of the best, ranging from singing burger patties to fake Australian accents:
1. SELLING IS SERVICE, SERVICE IS SELLING
“Selling is Service, Service is Selling,” is a classic awkward retail training video from the late ‘90s or early 2000s – though we’re not really sure where this store is or what it was called. The robotic dances of the employees alone are cringe-worthy enough to make the creators of the video regret their performances. Their out-of-sync lyrics do not even explain what the store sells: “I can help you find anything you could possibly want/ Such ostentatious goodies that I can flaunt,” the store manager strangely chants at one point. This store seems to sell everything from camera film to cigarettes to jewelry, but never actually goes beyond repeating its catchphrase.
Speaking of unnecessary and forced rhyming, this burger rap from Wendy’s in the 80s subjects some poor soul to rapping over a backbeat of dance-friendly new wave music. On a purely aesthetic level, burger patties take on anamorphic female features on 3:19 and sing about how juicy and delicious they are, all while looking greasy and unpalatable. A lesson to be learned here: Restaurant managers, show food that looks less like plastic recreations and try to avoid “hip” songs, raps, or dances.
3. PIER 1 IMPORTS
This Pier 1 Imports employee training video uses a new technique called “Let’s” Coaching which stands for: “Let’s engage the customer, let’s make a sale.” Everyone is rapping, from the sales associates to the customers. When the employee shows the customer a dining set, she says, “Thanks for making this so much fun/ I’m definitely coming back to Pier 1.” By the end of the video, they all go out to the parking lot to dance with their shopping bags and chairs. This video is an example of how singing and dancing can create videos that are funny but distracting, instead of actually useful on the job.
There are many great moments in this Nintendo training video from 1991, namely the point where the store employee gets his hand stuck to a gaming console because it is covered in grime and dried soda. This video uses bumbling but rude customers who are great for comic relief, but also for training employees what to do in a difficult situation. At the end of the video, the narrator has a long montage about how painless processing returns can be, all while speaking in a soothing voice over calming, flute-based elevator music.
While some of the other videos have tried to make the job seem fun above all, this Hardee’s commercial from the 80’s uses a different motivation by saying: “Your reputation is on the line – the front line that is!” Even though the narrrator, Hope, says that the best way to act is relaxed and natural, she repeats there is a 60-second time standard for each order and shows clips of other coworkers who use 75 seconds or do not put the burger in the bag properly. This video is full of great one-liners by Hope, but the best may be: “Remember to lay boxed sandwiches flat. That way, the customer won’t be attacked by a blob of mayonnaise when he opens the box!”
In this Blockbuster training video from 1990, the sales associate, Marie, gets advice in selling from Buster Sales of Blockbuster University. Buster is here to tell her that she is not being opportunistic enough and to “remember to listen to your customers,” “think how Blockbuster can solve those needs,” and “act with good customer service.” This video is pretty great because Marie goes around the store talking to herself (really Buster), and ends up acting clueless but pushy at the same time.
This Gamestop training video is awful in a way that no others are: The narrator is a woman who has put on an Australian accent to explain the weird creatures that are other women. They have created a Wii promotion called “Sharpen the mind, shape the body,” specifically aimed towards 25-34 year old women that allow for exercising by acting out tasks like cooking or dancing. It also includes a 12-month subscription to women-oriented magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire. The video feels both hilarious and outdated as a result of its inherent sexist nature.