“Greed is good” was a corporate rallying cry in the late 1980s. In 2014 a company headquartered in Spokane, Washington, still thinks greed is good! In the 1987 film Wall Street Michael Douglas won an Oscar for the Best Actor for his portrayal of Gordon Gekko.
The company, Ambassador Programs was in the business of student travel. They acquired names of school students any way they could get them. They then sorted through the names and did mass mailings with direct marketing campaigns to those students who were most likely able to afford the pricey program, based on zip codes and family income. They sent an invitation letter to students to a presentation about an opportunity to travel domestically or internationally with other students. It was slickly packaged as an “educational experience” to learn about other cultures. It was part of Ambassador Programs’ mission to get students to explore outside their own back yard. Despite the costly nature of these trips (in some cases $5,000+ per student), their programs were top-notch. If every student had the opportunity to travel abroad, Mr. Brick believes we would live in a much better world. Travel opens up the mind. Despite Ambassador Programs’ high price tag, they were worth every penny.
Ambassador Programs had an in-house culture that lacked structure and logic. Although veiling themselves as a 100% educational non-profit company, they were all about making money and making as much of it as they can. They had executives with little more than retail experience selling lipstick managing a sales force that brought in almost $100 million dollars in annual sales. To say they were inadequate and over their head is an understatement.
So, is “Greed is Good”? Ambassador Programs proved that maybe it isn’t. It’s probably why they went out of business.
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