My first thoughts, I admit, were wrong.
I winced upon hearing about Chiquita chief executive officer Fernando Aguirreâs plans to take part in an episode of âUndercover Boss,â which aired recently. (You can still watch it here.)
If the airing wasnât omen enough, I thought the idea of putting your corporate chief out there to be ridiculed was crazy. What good could come of that?
The CBS reality TV show disguises execs and puts them in lower-level jobs along workers regularly assigned to the work who are unaware of the ploy. For Aguirre, dyeing his silver locks brown, a change of clothes and dark-rimmed glasses completed his disguise.
Having seen it the program, my idea has changed. Aguirre came off as very personable. It was great to hear how he emigrated from Mexico to the U.S. as a high school student to learn English and then got a college baseball scholarship to Southern Illinois University.
As âManuel Gonzales,â Aguirre worked as a forklift operator in the warehouse, helped package Fresh Express bagged salads, checked figures and shuffled papers with a port dispatcher and tried his hand at field harvesting lettuce.
I see value in more people recognizing Aguirre and having a personable and human face attached to Chiquita.
The corporate leviathan has had its share of embarrassing missteps. Recently the FDA boxed Chiquitaâs ears for implying its Pineapple Bites fresh-cut product was low cal.
In 2007, Chiquita forked over $25 million to the U.S. government to settle charges that it had paid off Latin American terrorist groups, which the company said was necessary to protect its workers.
It is easier to cast aspersions on a giant, soulless corporation (see how easy that was?) than that company run by Fernando.
Maybe they should follow up in kind.
More produce stars?
Like I was concerned about Aguirre, Chiquita and âUndercover Boss,â my initial reaction to Gillâs Onions being featured on the Discovery Channelâs âDirty Jobsâ was more to the âyouâve got to be kiddingâ train of thought than âthis might be marketing genius.â
I canât associate anything about the operations at Gillâs Onions with a program with âdirtyâ in its title.
What do you think about produce companies being featured on reality TV shows? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.