Blowfish: A Private Life in Public Relations – Episode 1
Blowfish: A private life in public relations
A serialized business noir story – By Steve Lundin
Episode I here
Episode II here
Episode III here
Episode IV here
Episode V here
Episode VI here
Episode VII here
“This is a joke, right Vance? Where’s the real presentation?” asked the only man in the room whose opinion mattered. Vance had been in this shock and awe situation so many times he could play out the rest of the meeting in his head. It was like watching a bullfight in the movie Groundhog Day. Why the clients didn’t just sign checks and let him do his job always annoyed him; anything short of an unequivocal “yes” was a complete waste of his billable time. And in the end the prettiest clients always took their panties off anyway.
“It’s no joke Sidney. You asked me for three things when you came to my office: you wanted a program that would put your channel on the map, you wanted viewers and you wanted to make a change in people’s lives. Some will die does all that.”
Sidney Brill, president of a startup that had just received 55 million dollars in venture capital, stroked his stylishly stubbled chin with fingers that had received their first-ever manicure just days ago. Vance was a legendary wild man in the communications world, that bomb that Slim Pickens rode into nuclear history at the end of Dr. Strangelove. He had made companies with nothing into hot acquisition targets, only to be kicked out of the celebration party for groping the wrong someone during a blackout drunk. As long as he only harmed himself he was a safe bet for success.
“Killing people is changing lives?”
“It’s voluntary – someone can either lose weight or die trying. Consider the payoff. It’s an incredible ego stroke. Remember Biggest Loser – Survivor? They all got stellar ratings with a sliver of the dramatic potential. I’m giving you something that makes more than ratings Sidney, it makes history. And your name is all over it.”
“Give us a couple of days…”
“I don’t think so. I’ll give you until right now. Then it’s off the table and I’ll sue your ass for using any part of it in any way whatsoever. Don’t be a pussy Sidney – you’re playing with other people’s money anyway.”
Vance stood up, maintaining his eye control over Sidney Brill, then moved to look at the rest of the Board of Directors, not that a roomful of obsequious toadies really mattered to him. Jack knew the only real influencer in anyone’s life was the woman who kept her legs crossed or the bank that said “no.”
Sidney blinked around the room at his board, looking for ready opinions. The six men and women remained silent, not wanting to stick their hand into the snake pit that Vance had dug. Vance slithered across the new conference room and looked down over Chicago. The city always appeared so much nicer from any elevation over 30 stories than down at street level. He cracked a small vent, opened his vintage silver cigar holder and extracted the remainder of a Cuban cigarillo that he had rolled in hash oil. Vance puffed it to life with his Dunhill lighter. One of the board members, probably the “communications expert” because he was wearing pressed jeans and a tie, politely attempted to dissuade Vance from smoking.
“I’m not smoking, I’m giving you guys another five minutes,” he said loudly, exhaling as much of the drug infused smoke into the room as he could. His only regret was that he hadn’t soaked that tasty Cuban in LSD 25. Ten minutes later Vance was exiting the building with a $150,000 retainer check in his pocket.
The thing that riled Vance the most about the communications game was the ability to extract free work from any number of competing agencies during the request for proposal process. With less promise than seeing a nun streak, profit driven professionals will drop everything, including wives, weekends and billable work to draft some creative magnum opus in the hopes of bringing a new client into the fold. Vance had his own approach. No matter how drunk or stoned, how outlandish a gambit, he wrote down every single idea that he could remember. And Sidney Brill, CEO of the newly founded VGlobe Online Video Network just signed on to something he had written on the back of a gin soaked napkin back in 2007. Vance measured his time in consumption, not minutes. This piece had taken two bottles of wine followed with a 90 minute pitch. Now he had to do the work.
Copyright 2012 Steve Lundin
About the author: Steve Lundin is the chief hunter and gatherer of BIGfrontier Communications Group, a Chicago based media strategy firm. He is the humor column for MediaPost’s Marketing Daily and has written for the Chicago Tribune, International Watch and a variety of aviation publications. He has worked as a professional marketing executive for several Chicago area marketing companies, as a production manager and cartoonist for a regional newspaper chain and as the public relations director for a national non profit agency. He is a writer, cartoonist, photographer, videographer, designer, amateur sociologist, pop culture expert/collector, scuba diver, motorcyclist and aviator in the making. And he knows a few things about marketing, having consulted for nearly 100 companies from Fortune 50 to a couple of guys in a garage with a business plan.