Marketing

Fiction: Life Brought to You by… (Part 2)

Part one here.

“Oh will you relax.” He said releasing her arm. “Please take a seat.”
“Relax. Relax he says. Doctor Death takes you into a locked room and he wants you to relax”

Dr Fielding laughed.

“I’m sorry about the room and the fact I had to lead you here.” He said. “But you can’t talk about the Sponsors out there. They will hear you.”
“So, I don’t care. It is the law to have a brand but I’m not in bed with them like you are.” Danielle said slouching down on a brown leather sofa that appeared far too big for what was essentially a box room.
“I told you. I’m not like them.” The doctor replied picking up a dog eared book from the desk in the corner of the room and tossing it to Danielle. “Take a look at this.”
“What’s this?” Danielle said rubbing her fingers over it in a swiping motion. “It won’t unlock.”
“Open it. It’s a book. It’s from Earth BF”
“Oooh something from Before Franchise. Contraband!” She said now holding it like it was hot potato. “Maybe you aren’t the corporate shill I thought.”
“See I told you.” The doctor said perching on the sofa next to her. “Open it.”

Danielle opened up the book and flicked through the pages. She began to read aloud.

“Earth Incorporated: The Price of the Sponsors by Jodie Fielding.” She stopped reading. “Any relation?”
“My great great grandmother. They killed her.”
“I’m sorry. Did she not have a scenario.”
“No, no-one did back when the Sponsors took over. They lived, freely. Properly, it’s all in the book. They wrote what they wanted back then, before the sponsors took control. They were gentle at first, rewarding those that complied and reflected their will in exchange for wealth or fame. Then they realised they could buy a person outright.”
“And people thought that was OK?”
“Not everyone, that’s why one Jodie Fielding wrote the book.” Said the doctor, stretching. “But most people went with it. Easy money and quick too. Lots didn’t even read the terms of the contract. There is a whole chapter in there about Mr Nathan Coca-Cola. He lived very well in the beginning for five years he sold more Coke than anyone before, just by being a poster child. Then he went to the beach.”
“Sponsored Sand Grains?”
“No plain sand, Mr Coca-Cola died because he was thirsty.”
“That’s some extreme thirst there.” Danielle smirked.
“He got hot, and went to buy a drink. They had run out of Coke. He drunk a Pepsi.”
“Pepsi?”
“Another brand of Cola. There was more than just one back then. There is a picture of it somewhere.” explained the Doctor taking the book. “See there.”
“Wow.”
“The Coca-Cola corporation looked through his personal security recording. They killed him. Other sponsors owned the courts by then so they were acquitted. That started the great backlash. Millions of people tried to get out of their contracts.”
“What happened to them?” Danielle asked captivated by the real history she was learning. It differed greatly from the Sponsors story of events.
“They were killed, breach of contract.” Fielding said solemnly. “Secretly of course”
“Millions of people killed and no-one notices? What how on Earth?”

Fielding took a deep breath.

“This is where the scenarios were first developed. To protect the people.”
“Protect them! I was right. You are as bad as all the rest. You hid the mass murder of half the population.”
“I didn’t. The company did. They had no choice, they had to produce scenarios otherwise the remaining people on this planet would have rebelled against the Sponsors. They would have wiped out the entire population. After this company saved the majority of Demographic the sponsors saw how valuable a scenario could be. After all if everyone was dead there would be no-one to sell to.”
“I see” Danielle said. “Money is king.”
“It’s been that way for a long time now. Anyway most people want their own scenarios now. Thats why you came to me today.”
“Only because of this damn voucher. ‘Choose now or have a scenario chosen for you.’ It says. I thought I was taking control.”
“Have you read your contract? I don’t think there is much control for anyone. So much as a word off ‘Brand” and you are in trouble”

They sat silently for a moment. Danielle ran the contents of the book through her head. The rumours of the sponsors all proven to be true. Danielle broke the silence.
“They can still kill the people who breech contract. With no-one knowing.”

“Yes not even the people involved. Until the simulation finishes, then there is nothing.”

Nothing is nothing

Advertisements

Fiction: Life, Brought to You by…. (Part 1)

The purple text below was a start written by my friend Richard. I finished the story best I could! I split it into two parts.  I hope you like.

Danielle was too warm to sleep. She tossed and turned in bed but slumber stayed away. But perhaps that was a mercy. The horror film Ant had put in the DVD player after their candle-lit dinner would have given her nightmares anyway. She never liked horror films. But it had been Ant’s turn to choose and Danielle figured he didn’t care much for her fluffy rom-coms either. But that was what relationships were about – compromise.

Suddenly Danielle heard a noise. Someone was breaking in the front door. Danielle sat up and listened. Heavy footsteps were thudding up the stairs getting louder and nearer. Danielle searched for her phone to call Ant or the police, then remembered she’d left it downstairs. She could hear heavy breathing now outside her bedroom door. The handle rattled as whoever was outside attempted to open the locked door. Danielle huddled in a corner of the bed against the wall and pulled the covers up in front of her – as if they would be any protection.
There was a sound of splintering wood and an axe-head appeared through the door. It disappeared and struck the door again, making a large hole. An arm pushed through the hole and unlocked the  door from the inside.

The door swung open and a masked man stood in the doorway.
Danielle screamed.

The axe fell. Danielle fell silent.

“And that is scenario 56.” said an exasperated Dr Fielding switching off the simulation screen. “Bit on the dramatic side but if you want to make a statement. There is nothing like the good old boyfriend with the axe to the head scene. Classic”
“Hmm” Danielle pondered.
“This also comes with the added back story that Ant has been copping off with your best friend.. erm.. Janet..”
“Janine.” Danielle corrected.
“Yes sorry, Janine. He offs you to run off to Fiji with a sheep and cow to breed horses.”
“With a sheep and a cow?”
“Yes, “ said the doctor checking his notes. “That’s what it says here.”
“Do you have anything else?”

Dr Fielding had shown Danielle 17 death scenarios now, including classics such as “Falling Ladder” and “Accident that wasn’t your fault” he was a trifle frustrated that nothing she had seen thus far fitted the bill. This was the trouble with allowing the under 30’s use the services of “Your Way Out Ltd” the end was usually so far away that the initial consultancy, often ended up a pointless drawn out affair. The client often returning many years later to request a standard “heart attack” rather than the “Bungee cord sex fall” they had requested 50 years previously. Dr Fielding swiped his way through the electronic catalogue.

“Here is scenario 27.” He replied. Pulling it across to the large screen that filled one end of an otherwise bland and clinical white room.

The screen showed a grey haired Danielle laying down on a white bed, surrounded by birthday cards and balloons. Some of the cards displayed the figure 1000. Next to Danielle there was a hologramic message casting light from the ground. It depicted the High Sponsor Romana.
“Congratulations on reaching your one thousandth life cycle.” She said. “In these troubled times there are few that make it this far. You are indeed a remarkable demograph.”
The message disappeared. The scenario screen faded to black.

“What was that?” said Danielle peering quizzically at the black screen.
“That was just called ‘Telegram’” replied Dr Fielding.
“Yeah but you didn’t see me.. well die.”
“That’s from our ‘Peaceful’ range. It’s very popular.
“Hmm.”
“Look you are very young. Why don’t you come back, we are developing new scenarios all the time to suit all price ranges.”
“No,” Danielle said with a sigh. “I need to sort it out now. I have a voucher from my Brand Manager”
Fieldings irritated demeanour melted somewhat at this news.
“Oh I see. Then you must take advantage of that offer. I’m sure we’ll find you something.”
“Seems a strange gift if you ask me, I mean I’m 20 years old. Not planning on kicking the bucket anytime soon.” Danielle said with half a smile, that quickly disappeared.
“Yes such is this life. No one knows when our time is up.”
“Thats not what I heard. I heard they know.” Danielle said rising from her chair and pacing round the room. “They know very well they tell us what we can and can’t do, how we live when we die. It’s not fair, it makes me mad.”
“Please, sit down. This is not the time or the place for madness. Your brand manager has been generous to you. Lets find you that scenario.”
“C’mon now doctor. You are a person. You must have heard the rumours.” replied Dannielle pacing. “But aha, you won’t say what you really think. You make money out of it. No biting the hand that feeds you eh.”
“Well yes but..”
“Don’t you ‘but’ me.” Danielle now raging “They made my Mother move away when I was 5. Never seen her since. No-one knows where she is. And you. You sit there and make a tidy packet on hiding the truth. The truth of life here on Earth672. You are worse than the Sponsors.”

Dr Fielding rose to his feet and walked over slowly to the snarling Danielle. He moved his face close to hers and said slowly and clearly “Don’t you ever compare me to them. Ever. You hear me. You come with me.”

Dr Fielding swiped a finger over the catalogue. The scenario screen scrolled up to reveal a black door, a stark contrast to it’s white surroundings. Next to the door was a retina scanner unit. Dr Fielding led Danielle firmly by the arm towards the door. He let the machine scan his eye and the door swung open.
“What are you doing?” Danielle said trying to hide her fear. A fear that was more real than in any of the scenarios the Doctor had shown her.
“I am going to show you why you shouldn’t compare me to the Sponsors” he said bundling her through the door. Which slammed shut behind them.
“Oh please no, please don’t hurt me.”

Part 2

Time square

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday James Marshall Hendrix.
Anyone who is unaware of the work of Mr Hendrix please open up a new tab on your browser. Google or hell even Bing him. Go to You Tube educate yourself. If you like music, any music, from Rock to RnB, Soul to the long drawn out death rattle brought about by the terminal flatulence that is x-factor. All contemporary music will have in some way shape or form been influenced by him.

The “wild man” persona is what some people choose to see. Hard drugs and burning of guitars. Yet this Jimi himself didn’t like. He was a blues man, recording all that he could via a small tape recorder. He worked hard for a break, touring across America sometimes on a diet of day old donuts and left overs procured from local shop staff. LSD was present in jimi’s life, this was the 60’s he wasn’t Mr Clean. He did however play music from his heart. Experimenting with sounds, adapting equipment until it delivered the required acoustic quality. He had a love for the music.

Had he been alive today I can only surmise what he’d be doing. I would hope it wouldn’t be a ill advised concept album with Metallica. Some people have said he would have continued pushing our sonic boundaries. This is surely true but with the ever tighter grip of the music money men, I believe he would have grown weary of recording. Getting pleasure instead from jam nights in his soho blues club.

There is lots of hyperbole surrounding the artist deceased. It does nothing to detract from record sales. Take Jesus for example! No star is more deserving of this posthumous praise than Jimi, he changed the game. Sold more guitars for Fender than any amount of marketing could Happy Birthday from a world that produces banal uninteresting music, you are sadly missed.

Marketing Factor

Genius of Simon Cowell. Mogul behind and in front of the X-Factor, begins with the naming of the show.

The X factor, a factor which no-one can quantify. It’s just a little something extra (or X-tra, as Syco Productions would put it) So thousands of “hopefuls” every year queue for hours and hours to enter a competition which in theory has no criteria, as long as you have the X-factor you should go far. It’s predecessor in the UK “Pop Idol” has clearer aims from the outset, to create a pop idol. This premise will killed stone dead when Michelle McManus won, because she could sing, but a Pop Idol she was not.

,I hate to draw comparisons between Michelle McManus and Mama Cass, because Mama Cass had a much better voice and recording success but… both were larger ladies. Both could hold a tune. Both would not make it in todays pop chart because as Music Market men would say they have a “image problem” which is marketingspeak for “they are fat and ugly”

So with the fat and ugly tarnish on the “Idol” franchise in the UK, X factor was born. If the purpose of the competition is to find someone with the X-factor, this competition would be difficult if not impossible to judge. After all someone who can fart the national anthem has a certain X-factor but not one you could market and sell on iTunes. This problem is resolved because apparently you only can have the X-factor if you are singer, which sounds a lot more like the criteria for “Idol” hmmm.

It returned to Saturday nights last week with another refresh. New judges Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa from N-Dubz (I’m assuming “from N-Dubz” is her last name) joined Irelands favourite son Lois Walsh. Walsh also appeared recently on BBC’s Top Gear program. Jeremy Clarkson quizzed him on his musical taste. Walsh is apparently a huge Led Zeppelin fan. Which begs the question why does he inflict the world with the likes of Westlife? Jeremy Clarkson to his credit asked this. Walsh replied, “Because the kids buy it” There is a market for making money in other words.

Why do the kids buy it? Well, they like the sound.. that’s an unfortunate given. But if you thought you were trapped in a room with only wallpaper to eat for the next 20 years, you might end up liking the taste of the wallpaper. I’ve written before about the saturation of “pop music” on UK radio in Sophie Rocks, so I don’t wanna bang on about that here.

Pop music is marketed to kids everywhere in the media. Disney push their artists Selena Gomez, Jonas Brothers et al in between programmes on The Disney Channel, Nick do similar things with Big Time Rush. Breeding familiarity, this works in a similar way to the success of the X-Factor artists. X-factor runs from August until December and whoever wins is guaranteed a hit single due to the mass exposure of Saturday night prime time TV. This success has for the most part tailed off when they are not on TV.

When these x-factor style programmes started I thought it was good. Wow the music industry is finally trying to find un-tapped talent, give exposure to someone who could take the world by storm. However what it actually is, is that the music industry know what they want long before the competition starts, they just want a puppet who they can mould to fit the market. Talent has nothing to do with it. The market is king.

If you are in marketing. Kill yourself.

Split the world

Are you a cat person or a dog person?

Do you have a “inny” or a “outty?”

Do you drink? Do you smoke?

Were you born on a Tuesday?

Who cares? There are several people who do. It is very important to them. Who are they? the FBI? Interpol? Your own personal stalker? Well maybe… But these people are worse, they don’t even know you either. They offer you shiny choices, new aspirations and popularity. Sounds good doesn’t it.

Everything we do, every choice we make in life, makes or loses money for someone. Thats fair enough, I mean if I were to come to your house and mow your lawn I’d want something in return. Money is a handy token to display gratitude. What if however, I had mown your lawn for 5 weeks and you then decided to save your money and do it yourself. I’d lose out on the cash. What if there was something I could do to persuade you that me, mowing your lawn improves your life. If I make a good enough argument I’m back in the money.

 

Amen Mr Hicks. Under the guise of freedom and choice everything is marketed. We are split into handy groups, moving with ease from one to another without even knowing it. Being controlled.

I’m a hypocrite, for I too am in a demographic. I too market myself. I market this blog. Some of you may even be here because of my shameless self-publicising. This however is a little different from me telling you that this blog was brought to you in association with Coca Cola. Coca Cola is a huge multinational with a large range of interests. If they are giving me money to write, I am hardly going to be impartial. I would lie so as not to upset my sponsor and to continue to receive my cash. So wheres the issue?

The above video (if you watched, you’d know) Contains the same routine Bill Hicks recorded for the Letterman show. It didn’t air it was pulled at the last minute. Was it offensive? Was it not funny?

No

It contained a segment on the pro-life movement, who happened to have paid the network for a ad break within the show. Hicks died shortly after the show aired (his bit excluded)

Marketing kills creativity. It has all but ended free thought in the modern world.

Drink Coke.