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Muppets Bring Life to Corporate Meetings

January 26, 1988

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Should an executive take tips from a frog with a high-pitched voice?

Definitely yes, say businessmen in Jim Henson’s home state who have seen the Muppet creator’s latest ventures - films for corporate America designed to ease tensions in the workplace and encourage employees to work together.

″People will pay more attention if they’re enjoying themselves,″ said Bob Hicks, general manager of economic development at Mississippi Power Co.,

″They’re also good to wake you up if you’ve been asleep,″ he joked.

The Muppet Meeting Films, produced by Jim Henson Associates Inc., poke fun at everything from introductions to coffee machines. Each film has a message, made gently - and humorously - by a Muppet character.

To relax a tense audience, for example, Kermit the Frog takes a moment to ″introduce you to the person who will introduce you to the person who will help introduce our next speaker.″

E.J. Trosclair, director of training at Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company in Jackson, said his firm shows ″The Final Speech″ and ″Coffee Break Machine″ to a different class of graduating insurance agents every week. Trosclair said the agents - who range from age 25 to 60 - love the films.

″We literally wear them out,″ he said.

″Coffee Break Machine″ shows Cookie Monster devouring a machine that won’t work, but the furry Muppet finds that vandalism causes it to explode. This film works well as a break in the middle of a long session, Trosclair said.

He said he saves ″The Final Speech″ for the new agents’ finale.

″And so my friends, before we adjourn,″ a Muppet businessman says in the film, ″as the years go by, I come to feel that these get-togethers are really a family reunion.″

The wide-eyed puppet speaker then waxes poetic as he explains how the ″great company″ pulls together in the great American tradition.

″Move with us into the future ... for the sake of motherhood ... for the sake of puppy dogs and kitty cats,″ he pleads.

He continues louder, ripping off his glasses and tie.

″I ask you to remember just one word. The word that makes it all possible, and that word is SELL 3/8″ he screams. ″I want you to get out there and SELL 3/8″

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