The Reality of Fictional Businesses

The serious nature of debt recovery leaves little room for folly, except for a certain silly season in April. In this article, we take a slightly satirical look at how fictitious TV and film businesses would fare in reality.

ACME Corporation

An international conglomerate making every kind of product imaginable. Despite repeated mishaps with poorly made combustibles used to hunt a Roadrunner, Wile E Coyote is their most loyal customer. In reality, you don’t need to be woke to see a problem with ACME seemingly supporting the hunting of a protected species. As a Company Making Everything (not the real meaning behind the acronym) their profits would be absorbed by litigation and injury claims!

ELB Enterprises (Back to the Future)

Having plundered the family fortune on researching time travel, eccentric inventor Doc Brown founded ELB Enterprises to finish the experiment The business generated revenue through providing ‘scientific services’ and building bespoke devices. ELB’s customer base is primarily derived from the organised crime and terrorist sectors. In reality, Doc Brown would be on the wanted list of several federal and state agencies. Offences worthy of a criminal prosecution include acquiring and handling plutonium without biosecurity level 4 clearance, speeding, burning bitumen via DeLorean fire tracks, clocktower trespassing, and locomotive hijacking.

Wonka Candy Company (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

The famous producer of Wonka bars and Golden Tickets. Company founder Willy Wonka obtains advice from a minor to reconcile his own troubled past, which by modern standards would be deemed inappropriate. The workforce is comprised of skilled, smaller than average humans. The line between Oompa-Loompas being seen as working asylum seekers or an enslaved minority is a fine one. In the real world, this raises a litany of social and moral concerns. The Wonka Candy Company did exist from 1971-to 2019 producing a range of products using real production lines whilst steering clear of human rights violations.

Central Perk (Friends)

A New York coffee house heavily funded by 6 good friends, of which a certain Ms Rachel Greene was employed as a haphazard waitress for several years. Long-serving barista known only as Gunther has an attachment (bordering on obsession) with said waitress/patron. In reality, the target of his affections would warrant an HR hearing for inappropriate conduct. We’d assume the business has undertaken extensive operant conditioning of its customers; otherwise, how else would the orange sofa always be available? Anti-discrimination law lends itself to finding Central Perk in breach due to the preferential seating arrangements for the chosen 6.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (Forrest Gump)

Founded to fulfil a promise to fallen soldier Benjamin B Blue, the business only became a success when a chance storm obliterated their competition. In reality, the odds of succeeding in this way are slim. The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company does exist in the real world! A struggling seafood company was bought and rebranded by entrepreneur Anthony Zolezzi. The brand has since licensed a series of seafood restaurants of the same name.

InGen (Jurassic Park)

Founded by Dr John Hammond, InGen is a bioengineering company intent on restoring extinct animals. The business is reliant on investors tolerating a CEO more committed to his own beliefs than boardroom success. In reality, no government would condone restoring a range of species that places humanity into an existential crisis! InGen’s value and sole reason for investor funding is its potential; not unlike how Tesla Inc was once viewed before turning a profit. The Boardroom V CEO civil war would deter potential investors and starve the company of research funds.

Monsters Inc

A business initially founded on scaring children to generate energy, since reformed to capture laughter. In reality, entering a child’s bedroom in this manner would be sufficient for a restraining order and entry onto a certain register. Don’t forget the psychological harm and erosion of personal boundaries in young minds. Capturing laughter in more productive settings such as schools and activity centres would yield a healthier and more socially acceptable result.

Special Delivery Service SDS (Postman Pat)

Known as Royal Mail until its most recent reincarnation. Mistake prone postman Pat Clifton is somehow qualified to operate all kinds of contraptions and vehicles. Licensed to deliver rockets, robots, fruit bats, and ice cubes to name but a few. In reality, he’d be on capability review with HR and SDS would be heavily indebted (insolvent on face value) paying for a helicopter, two planes, a snowmobile and a 4×4. Not to mention all that goods-in-transit and public liability insurance. Yes, we know the average 5-year-old won’t be thinking of this!

Duff Beer (The Simpsons)

A brand based solely on an alcohol-dependent superhero promoting an American pale ale. In the real world, such a marketing campaign would be a breach of transatlantic advertising standards. We’d expect Duff-Man to be offered treatment and encouraged to attend AA meetings at the very least. Simpsons creator Matt Groening has previously refused to license Duff Beer as an alcoholic beverage sighting the risk of encouraging children to drink. However, there have been some unofficial beers using the Duff name without the Duff Man marketing concept.

Springfield Nuclear Power Plant (The Simpsons)

Owned by Charles Montgomery Burns with a rap sheet of 342 violations and counting. The plant has a litany of health, safety and environmental breaches yet is propped up by its standing as a critical supplier too important to fail. Assuming the number of mini meltdowns has not rendered it as radioactive as Chernobyl in 1986, reality would see it nationalised or sold to bidders with a proven health and safety record. Mr Burns would be on the hook for commercial negligence, and for favouring profits over bringing the plant up to code.

The Queen Vic, The Woolpack, The Rovers Return Inn, The Waterhole

Home of several fires, break-ins, money laundering, drug dealers, murders, and assaults with the punters seemingly unperturbed! In reality, a public house of this reputation would lose its licence. The council would then mandate the land be used for something less harmful to the community such as offices or outreach services.

Trotters Independent Traders (Only Fools and Horses)

The rap sheet is long but let’s start off with blatantly and flagrantly choosing not to pay income tax or VAT. Running an unregistered business from council housing without permission. Purveyors of the worst market tact available including faulty state of the art goods. Distributing hooky (stolen) goods and providing services without accreditation. Lest we forget the ‘statellite’ dish near miss and chandelier incidents! In reality, the directors would be held accountable by DI Roy Slater, trading standards, HMRC and the Serious Fraud Office to name but a few.