April 13 2009 by Joe Queenan
Not long ago, a photograph of Liz Claiborne CEO William McComb jammed into a seat in coach class appeared in the The Wall Street Journal. The article described how CEOs were forgoing trips on private planes and even giving the thumbs-down to first class and business class as a way of cutting costs. Such selflessness was bound to get the attention of shareholders.
Though McComb tried to put a nice face on things, the article made it clear that flying coach was no picnic. Not only was he suffering the ergonomic misery of riding in steerage, he had made the trip to
Attention-getting stunts like aerodynamically consorting with the plebs are wonderful in theory. They bring an aura of democracy to corporations and probably lift morale among employees and shareholders alike. Moreover, because 28 companies cited by the Journal are putting their private aircraft up for sale this year, a growing number of CEOs may find themselves flying commercial class as the current recession wends its way toward its macabre conclusion. So they need to get used to the new regime.
But is it all worth it? The long delays, loss of sleep, cramped conditions, crummy food and need to pop sleeping pills just to catch a few z’s here and there? Sure, it looks terrific on the symbolic level, but if the net effect is to have a CEO arrive in Los Angeles so worn out he literally can’t find the lobby elevators, is anyone benefiting from this?
This is where Corporate Impostors comes in. Corporate Impostors is a boutique service with offices in
“Our service allows CEOs to travel to important meetings in an ambience of luxury and comfort,” explains Corporate Impostors founder Barry Germaine. “Meanwhile, the stand-in sends the reassuring message to shareholders that everyone is sucking it up during this brutal economic downturn.”
Corporate Impostors has more than 2,000 clients, ranging from a CEO who doesn’t want to attend his brother-in-law’s dreaded annual barbecue in
Corporate Impostors is now expanding its services to include impersonators who will stand in at ribbon- cutting ceremonies, wakes and company picnics. It will even furnish impostors who not only look like the CEOs, but sound like them. These individuals have actually been hired to negotiate with labor unions and testify at Senate hearings in