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Business of Generic Importance

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So you live in Everytown, America, huh? What school did you go to? Oh, Central Community College, huh? You work at Office Plaza now? Great! I hope you make it to the top!

If your setting takes place in a nondescript town, city, or other location, your production may not be important enough to require specific details for that location, building, or company, such as using the name of a famous entrepreneur, a unique, grand-sounding name, or a name that ties it to the state or city. So what do you do? Well... one standby is to give them one that makes them sound important at first glance, but may actually be just as generic as the city itself, if its name wasn't given before; the Mathematician's Answer of a business name.

Other times, the name and/or the exact venture the business performs may not be described, just that they perform business (e.g.: "Business, Inc."), or the business may not have a unique trait (e.g.: a restaurant with a gimmick or offering flame-broiled burgers with a specific spice or recipe, a college that has been esteemed as providing the best education in the world, a bank that is lenient on account holders, etc.). Sometimes, these businesses will use some sort of official-sounding name to imply that they have more legal powers than they actually do.

Related to Bland-Name Product, No Name Given, Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep", Exactly What It Says on the Tin, Acme Products, and Trope Co.. For the superhero version, see Evil, Inc.. May cross over with Where the Hell Is Springfield?, if the business takes place in a city that is also nondescript. Employees of the Business of Generic Importance may have an Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation.


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    Asian Animation 
  • In Lamput, the laboratory where the docs work doesn't seem to have a name at all, with its exterior sign simply saying "LAB" and all mentions of it in official materials calling it "the lab/laboratory". Likewise, the lab school in "Origins" has a sign on the outside that reads "LAB SCHOOL".
  • In Simple Samosa, a number of Chatpata Nagar's community events and sports take place in a stadium known simply as the Stadium Dome.

    Comic Strips 
  • The company Dilbert works at has never been named, but Dilbert is explicitly described as an "engineer" and has at various times been tasked with both hardware and software projects. One gets a sense that the internal bureaucracy has become so impenetrable that management itself no longer knows what exactly the company does.
  • My Cage lampshaded this by calling the company Norm works at "MacGuffin Inc."
  • Both Hi and his neighbour Thirsty in Hi and Lois are white collar workers for Foofram Industries. Scenes set in the office will sometimes mention "clients" that they're supposed to be working for, but what the company in general or the characters in particular do for these clients is never explained.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, Mei runs past a cafe called "Coffee Cafe".

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 9 to 5 takes place in the Consolidated Companies; when the CEO visits towards the end of the film, several employees are freaking out because they're completely unclear as to what it is the company even does.
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: Parodied in the short film The Crimson Permanent Assurance, the Permanent Assurance Company is a small London firm that provides vaguely-defined financial services. The company has recently been bought by the Very Big Corporation of America, but the clerks hit a Rage Breaking Point when one is sacked and mount a revolt, overthrowing their corporate overlords and turning pirate.
  • Initech from Office Space doesn't have much of a clear goal, aside from apparently updating bank software for the Year 2000 switch.

  • The Murderbot Diaries: The N.G.O. Superpower that created the titular Cyborg is only ever referred to as "the Company". Subverted when it's revealed that Murderbot is deliberately censoring the Company's real name from all its records, including the narration, to defy it.
  • The Pendragon Adventure: In The Quillan Games, the setting is a dystopia in which the N.G.O. Superpower represses creativity and free-thinking. It leads shops to be labelled FOOD, FURNITURE, CLOTHES and such, selling products from the same mark and looking identical from the outside.
  • Several of Terry Pratchett's novels with present-day settings include mentions of a company called United Holdings (Holdings) PLC. It embodies impersonal modern business practices and nobody ever mentions what actual line of business it's in.
    • In Good Omens, Newt Pulsifer's day job is with United Holdings (Holdings) PLC (as a wage clerk, which avoids giving any clues about what business it's in). The executives at the paintball retreat Aziraphale and Crowley encounter are also with United Holdings (Holdings) PLC.
    • In Johnny and the Dead, the company behind the real estate development project that drives the plot is the similarly named United Amalgamated Conglomerated Holdings. Several people ask what the company actually does, and nobody ever gets an answer.
    • In The Unadulterated Cat, the chapter on factory cats mentions that in modern times they tend to be the responsibility of individual employees rather than the company as a whole, because management feels that "they don't fit in with the new streamlined image of United Holdings (Holdings) plc".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who, "The Sun Makers": Pluto is Humanity's last resort, as both Earth and Mars are uninhabitable. The entire human populace, each day, is worked ever so much more harder by a galactic Company, to extreme exhaustion. (One character, Cordo, at the beginning of the serial even admitting that he already works double shifts!) At the center of this branch of the Company is the mysterious Collector.note  Taxes are placed abound on anything from medical care, to basic living, to even breathing the air; heavy fines for ostensible offenses note  and workers are penalized, even with legitimate time off given by the Company, plus these fees and taxes are increased often, leaving them constantly in-debt and unable to pay these exorbitant amounts. When the Doctor asks a group of rebels what the Company is for, who runs it, and who profits from it, no one can give a straight answer, as the populace has been suppressed and enslaved so much that they never considered to ask those questions before.
  • In Good Omens, Newt Pulsifer starts his new career as a witch-finder after his status as a Walking Techbane brings an end to the prospect of an ordinary job at the very ordinary United Holdings (Holdings) PLC.
  • The Good Place is a fake neighborhood made by Bad Place demons to resemble a happy human community. As a result, the shop and restaurant names are generic: "Flowers", "Frozen Yogurt", "Pets", and so forth. They are mostly painted in soft pastel colors,too.
  • In The IT Crowd, even Douglas Reynholm doesn't know what his company Reynholm Industries does:
    Reynholm Industries: a big hard business in a big hard building. Thrusting into the future strongly. Again and again. Pounding into the future, making the future beg for it. The future wants it, and Reynholm Industries wants to give it to the future. That's what it's all about. We don't want to be like a dead fly regretting what we didn't do in our short time on this earth. So maybe its a time to make a decision.
  • Parodied on early MADtv (1995), with the game show sketch "Vague", which is exactly how it sounds. No information beyond the fact that it's a game show, that there are players, and there are prizes, are given. Even the theme song is vague and not so unique, and the set is gray and drab, with some chintzy decor. Doubly parodied with the real guest appearance of Jamie Farr, who did play Maxwell Q. Klinger on M*A*S*H; the host doesn't know who he is until he makes it intentionally vague. Parodied again, when the winning player is left standing in the empty, quiet studio with no guidance on what to do when the game is over.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: In the episode "Carpenter Street", Archer and T'Pol are recruited by 31st-Century time agent Daniels, and the two meet up in the year 2004 with a human who is conspiring with the Xindi-Reptilians, Loomis. To get on his good side, they all go to a restaurant named "Burgerland", which doesn't have much of a visual gimmick going for it, and is as generic as fast food locations may come on television.
  • WandaVision: Invoked in Episode 1, "Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience"; Vision works at "Computational Services, Inc.", a 1950s big-city corporate desk-office company. Sometime during the episode, he asks his coworker Norm what they actually do there. No answer is actually given. They don't make, buy, or sell anything, but their productivity went up 300% after Vision started working for them.

    Video Games 
  • Backyard Sports: Some of the various professional fields in the Backyard Sports series are generic locations, such as "Pro Sports Arena" and "University State College", "Parks Department #2", and "Big City Stadium". However, others, while still generic, subvert the trope and have a more child-like dynamic flair to them, such as "Super Colossal Dome", "Phillips Field", or "Estadio Estupendo". ("Stupendous Stadium")
  • Obsidian: Played with, as the Bureau Realm that the player, Lilah, experiences, mirrors the hindering culture that she and her partner, Max, had to endure in bringing their Ceres satellite project to fruition. Nothing about what is done in the Bureau Realm is specified; Everything is generic, including its official name ("The Regional Administration Facility"), as well as the filing and bureaucracy of paperwork, the existence of job positions, and the soul-crushing office culture involved.
  • The Stanley Parable: The office that the titular Stanley works at has no name, nor is specified what is actually done there except for one ending, which suggests it's a Big Brother Is Watching operation on him and his co-workers, apart from Stanley following commands on his computer's screen. The rest of the office is generic, with cubicles, break rooms, meeting rooms, paperwork, office supplies, and warehouses.

    Web Original 
  • Clarence's Big Chance: Parodied, as the sign outside of Clarence's workplace reads "Generic Company".
  • Dad exaggerates this for the sake of comedy and mystery. Locations featured in the show include "Office", "Town", "Restaurant", and "Store", which is done to highlight just how fake Dad's world is.
  • Homestar Runner: Played with, as the main setting itself of the series is "Free Country, USA", and the locations in the series are just as generic. For a few examples, Homestar has a show called... ..."The Show", which seems to be a mix of a comedy talk show, game show, and interview program. Another animation, a Strong Bad Email titled "business trip", takes place at the "Annual Symposium Conference Lecture Seminar Series". And finally, Homestar, Strong Bad, Pom Pom, and Bubs all work at a nondescript, no-name generic cubicle office. Averted with Bubs, who works at a concession stand... which doubles as a general store, Internet provider, and everything else that needs a storefront.

    Western Animation 
  • The Hair Bear Bunch: The main location where the show takes place is called "Wonderland Zoo", and in one episode, a one-off character, a gorilla named Arnie, is taken to "University Hospital" after one of Bubi Bear's concoctions, a perfume, causes him to shake and fidget uncontrollably.
  • In The Looney Tunes Show, Enormocorp is the corporation that Foghorn Leghorn was the CEO of. It is not clear what it actually did. but Daffy duck managed to drive it into the ground.
  • Saturday Supercade: The companies/businesses in the "Frogger" segment are always vague, i.e. "Big City College", "City Bus Co."
  • Invoked in The Simpsons episode "Das Bus", where Homer gives his intentionally ill-defined internet company the name "CompuGlobal-Hyper-MegaNet" (which he stole from Marge) to make it sound impressive enough in scale to be worthy of acquisition. Unfortunately for him, Bill Gates has a different idea of what "buy[ing] him out" means.