Every year Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) – Get Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class A Report welcomes its shareholders to its annual shareholder’s meeting in Omaha, Neb. The event attracts fans of the company and overruns the small midwestern city as private jets fill the relatively small airport and mediocre hotel rooms sell at well above their normal prices.
It’s a party built around a love for Berkshire Hathaway, and its leaders 91-year-old Warren Buffett and 98-year-old Charlie Munger. The festivities — which have not had a live crowd in three years — fill an arena that usually hosts concerts and Creighton University sporting events.
Call it Coachella for people into the stock market who like conservative companies with a very long track record of success. The annual film, which both kicks off and highlights the event — plays exactly one time.
You can’t take pictures, record audio, or shoot any video of the film because it features all sorts of Hollywood bigwigs and other celebrities making cameos for free. This year’s film offered a mix of commercials (actual commercials from TV) for companies Berkshire Hathaway owns, as well as plenty of mild humor, and pop culture references that hit on sort of a “dad” level
A Look at the 2022 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Movie
Buffett opened with a welcome to people attending the event and asked attendees to not record the meeting, which was heavily enforced. He was very excited to welcome everyone in person after three years of digital-only events.
The film opened with a video about a veterinarian in Connecticut. Covid quarantine — when people adopted all sorts pets — made his business explode. He could not handle the volume, so the doctor used American Express (AMEX) to hire an assistant, buy new equipment, and another exam room.
It was an emotional commercial that was somewhat typical of many of the ads. It was, however, followed by a Geico and then a Helzberg Diamond ad that were basically just the ones that air a lot on TV.
Those were followed by an ad for Berkshire Hathaway’s energy business, focused on net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. It showed various brands and how they benefit their communities.
After that, an Apple (AAPL) – Get Apple Inc. Report AirPods ad followed by a funny spot from “CBS This Morning” talking about wacky fast food-themed clothes and sneakers featuring a Dairy Queen sweater vest with a Blizzard pocket. It was a bit absurd, but it a set the tone for where the video was going after Duracell, Jordan’s Furniture, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services (real estate), and Brooks Sneakers ads played.
Then, things got entertaining.
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Celebrities Make Berkshire Hathaway Cameos
Rainn Wilson opened the “funny” portion of the video in his Dwight role from “The Office,” on an authentic-looking set. He told Munger, “You don’t look so tough,” he told the 98-year-old billionaire.
“There are 18 ways I could kill you,” responded Munger.
Famed soap opera actress Susan Lucci then appeared joking about taking over as Berkshire Hathaway CEO while Buffett switches to a career in soap operas. That was followed by a “sexy'” message from Jamie Lee Curtis and a clever “Breaking Bad” parody that featured Bryan Cranston which ended with Munger parodying Aaron Paul’s character Jessie Pinkman propensity for saying “bitches” by delivering a See’s candy “brittle bitches” line.
It was then a return to ads with a promo for Jimmy Buffett’s pontoon boat, a partnership between the non-related Buffetts. That was followed by another GEICO ad, the auctioneer ordering breakfast one, and a Fruit of the Loom, Made True ad.
And while there were more ads mixed in, things took a turn for the serious. Munger spoke on how he believed his and Buffett’s popularity came from being people who it looked like “knew a trick.
“It’s not brilliance, it’s avoiding stupidity,” he added.
Munger explained that the company was “constantly kissing off ideas because we know we have better opportunities. It’s about opportunities. When you get married you have to take the best that will have you.” That’s how he approaches business, he added.
The scene later shifter to Buffett speaking in Congress during the 1991 Salomon Brothers Treasury Bonds scandal hearing. He welcomed investigation so the guilty would carry the weight, not the innocent. He also talked about how all actions should pass a “front page of the newspaper test,” asking employees to consider if how their actions at any given moment would look if they were covered on the front page of their hometown newspaper.
“Lose money for the firm and I will be understanding. Lose one shred of integrity and I will be ruthless,” he told Congress.
Buffett also took a moment to reflect on the enormity of the moment — of having a full arena to speak to — and he called back to when the meeting was 30 people in a cafeteria.
“It’s a celebration. Part of working together is celebration,” he shared noting that people buy Berkshire Hathaway stock with the idea of holding it forever.
“We have more long-term shareholders than any company,” he said. “…We regard shareholders as our partners. It gives real meaning to what we’re doing everyday.”
The event then closed with a wedding from a few years ago take on Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk” with Berkshire Hathaway lyrics.
“Want value; we own it…It’s Saturday morning and we’re in the house.”
Perhaps not the strongest finish, but a unique video no other company could offer.