Friday, January 8, 2010

Leno's "Performance"

It's such a small, petty thing. But it speaks volumes about business and art.

Yesterday, NBC issued the following statement:
"Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today. As we have said all along, Jay's show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network. It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance."
It's a poor piece of writing. By "performance", of course, they're speaking in corporate, financial terms - a terrible word choice given that the statement starts off by insisting that Leno's performance, in terms of show biz, is perfectly up to snuff (debatable, but that's a separate matter).

But let's dissect what's behind the gaffe.

Whoever wrote this is so entrenched in "performance" as a financial term that the ambiguity never struck home. And this person works not for a mining firm, nor an agribusiness, nor a petrochemical company, but for a television network. We're talking about someone who works in the arts for whom
"performance" could mean absolutely nothing but money.

And it wasn't written by a bean counter or MBA, either. It's a communications professional, a writer, someone leaning toward the creative side of the business spectrum in a creative company.

Color me boggled.

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