In our quest to uncover some sweet retro commercials to throw back to, we came across a video that we almost forgot existed. Three years since its release, we are just as horrified by what is possibly the most worst training video ever. With its low production values and overly-forced jokes, it’s still hard to believe that this cringe-worthy video wasn’t dug up from some 1980s time capsule but produced in 2010 by the IRS.
Yes, that IRS. The government agency spent close to $60,000 on this video as well as a similar Gilligan’s Island parody video in preparation for a 2010 leadership conference, and later issued a statement of apology for this video:
There are a lot of things in the world that are so bad, they’re good — that’s the entire reason Sharknado was made. Of course, some things sink to the depths of so-bad-it’s-good territory and then sink a little deeper to a point of no return. This video — quite possibly the worst training video ever — is one of them.
No one expects IRS employees to be amazing actors or to be able to expertly replicate a Star Trek set (if you’re even vaguely familiar with Star Trek you’ll get a good laugh at the Next Generation uniforms paired with the set and characters from the original series). No one expects to go to a leadership conference and watch a cutting, over-the-edge video that will make them laugh until they cry. But maybe that’s part of the problem — companies think they can get away with mediocrity because the bar isn’t high enough.
The fact is, if you’re a professional, putting out a video that was written on the fly and looks like it was slapped together with a simple movie-maker program is kind of like going to a meeting with an investor wearing a wrinkled T-shirt with socks and sandals.
While you don’t have to produce Citizen Kane, this is the kind of thing that you should either do right or not at all. Why? Because bad videos insult the audience, and in this case, the audience is people you hired.
You don’t have to try to be funny and you don’t have to try to riff off of pop culture. The most important thing is simply that you give yourself some credit and you take some pride in what you do. The bar doesn’t raise itself — someone has to take the initiative and do it.