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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

A student working part time at an ad company hates bullshitting the undeserving public.

He also has a hangover.

"Shit". The silence was broken by the swearing of Nicholas Conway, team leader (read jerk who gets paid more for shouting).
I felt a twinge in my temple and groaned. The drinking last night had perhaps been ill-advised, and all my attempts to combat the hangover with caffeine had come to nought.
There I was, twitchy hands and a head full of drill-wielding gremlins, at a "Strategising" meeting in our building which had infected the township of Buckshot. It was some Monday in June 2008. Our ad team was assembled around a round table, with the chief windbag in a massive chair with its back to a tiny window. The room was like a cell. The shaft of light from the window illuminated the cold, white plastic of every surface, completely uniform and free from the tiniest speck of disruption.
"They can’t have known," said a man whose name I forgot. I labelled him "Eternal Frown" for convenience.
"It doesn’t matter now", said another, mentally labelled "Focalies". "We need something new, and fast. Our launch date is coming up!"
I don’t know why I had a job in that miserable place. But my rent and Uni fees had to be paid. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was on an escalator going the wrong way, and that all the running and caffeine couldn’t move me forward one bit.
Seems the gimmick we spent ages developing just oozed out onto TV from another company’s studio, after all our effort. Not that I cared much. It’s hard to separate one piece of drudgery from another. It wasn’t like manual labour, but the… tricks, persuasions, fallacies, gimmicks, the lies… I feel sick whenever I see one of our ads.
"Larry? You with us?" More droning in the noise of sound and colour. I suddenly realised how badly the EconoSave seat was cutting into my arse.
Then I realised they were talking at me. No, not to me. Maybe it was the sleepy, or the way the walls bounced back and forth, but it was only then that I realised the entities around me were… looking at me. They were focusing their attention on me. This was dangerous. Just BS your way out, Larry…
"Larry, you can’t just turn up for work and start daydreaming like this. We have standards."
I thought. Remember what you learned in school… Quickly, acknowledge their superiority to shut them up, then you can go back to sleeeeep. Sleeeeep.
"Sorry sir, it won’t happen again."
"It better not."
Now jolted from the hazy mist of blurry colours, sounds and thoughts, I decided to listen- if not to think about what I was hearing - just to keep up appearances.
"Well, we’ll have to come up with something new, very quickly", said the One Who Gets Paid More Than Me. "We don’t want a bad reputation for punctuality. Maybe we should give the team a bonus for this one."
"Well, who are we aiming at, anyway?"
Bonus? I could go for that. I crunched the gears in my brain from Neutral to First.
A face protruding from a formal suit spoke next. "Well, we’re advertising for the Happy Family Insurance Co. So our core consumers are the rich, uncertain, scared and…"
"Superstitious? Gullible?" I interjected.
"Our clients prefer to use the term ‘trusting’ said the One Who Gets Paid More Than Me.
With a twinge of pain, I concentrated on the hour’s wiki research I’d done before taking the job. I couldn’t fake a degree, so they took me on as a trainee. I have a horrible feeling they intended to make me stay full-time.
I spoke: "So, the market we’re targeting wants peace of mind and security…"
"Actually, the USP is their Innocent Mind policy." Says Eternal Frown.
"Yes, whenever a child becomes hard to control or starts getting dangerous influences, we pay for their re-education and the necessary drugs."
I was interested for the first time in months. I hadn’t seen a good dystopia for ages. "What influences do they cover?"
I heard. I listened. I hated.
"Or religion, for example. Imagine if some kid decided he wanted to be a Muslim…"
An audible gasp was heard around the room.
"Don’t say that!" said Focalies. "I’m trembling."
"Anyway, since you seem to be so interested, Larry, why don’t you start us off?"
"Well, we obviously need to prey on people’s fear-"
"I mean, show the truth of the hideous state of the world. After all, those who can pay should be protected from these horrors."
"Go on…"
"The way I see it, we produce a scene where all those nasty things that can happen, happen. Everything. The emotion associated with their brand should be security, so we show them wearing the brand with nothing bad happening. Maybe nicer weather, nicer people, no immigrants, no poor people, some nice country/western music… A before/after piece. This will stiumulate a Call To Action and they’ll see what our clients have to offer."
My stomach heaved at what I just said. No, the bullshit didn’t concern me. It’s an artform. What made me sick was using country/western and music in the same sentence.
"Maybe we could film it in a documentary style. Lend it a sense of authenticity."
"We could get the CGI people to whip up some "witness accounts"…"
"Anything else?"
"Hmm. Could we stick our rivals’ logos on the fears and menaces? Also, I don’t think theirs had any religion in it."
They gasped.
"You see, all we need to do is have heavy metal, some hellfire, and then for the second scene, the angelic insurance company chases the bad guys away. We could have our slogan as ‘Happy Families – God’s own insurance company’. Judging by our core consumers’ attitudes, this should engage them."
The One Who Gets Paid More spoke with admiration in his eyes: "That was genius! We’ll work out the details immediately! You’ll go far in this organisation."
Great, you inexplicably foolish excuse for a thinking being! You just dug yourself further into their claws!
Oh, no....

Submitted: May 10, 2009

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