#FridayFlash: The Way It's Done

Carla flipped the presentation-sized pages on the easel as she spoke.

"NovoGene - because there's nothing wrong with you that some fresh DNA won't fix."


"NovoGene: For the best you money can buy."


"NovoGene: For the life you were always meant to live."


"When it's time to get great, it's time for NovoGene."


"NovoGene: You, only better."

After the last page, Carla flipped them all back over, bringing the pad back to the first page, the one with all the what-do-we-want-the-ads-to-do scribbling. She hadn't given the executives more than 10 seconds with any of the taglines. As expected, there were at least five voices asking her to go back and let the see them again. She ignored them and fussed with the multicolored markers for a moment. The voices increased in volume, as they called out to her and to each other.

She made a point of dropping the markers, which gave her twenty seconds' worth of stage business in which to continue to ignore the room full of vice-presidents. It was only when she heard the voice of the CEO that she turned to face the room again. The rest of the room fell silent quickly, with only one of the members of the board of directors continuing to whisper a side conversation.

"Ms. Gorten," the CEO said, "would you mind reviewing those again? You went through them a little too quickly for us."

"Certainly, ma'am," Carla said. "Which of the taglines did you want to see again?"

"Which one? I want to see all of them, of course."

Carla nodded, as if in complete agreement, but she made no move to flip the pages again. "Of course, ma'am. I'll put them all up around the wall so we can properly workshop them. Before I do that, though..." Carla looked around the room, tilting her head in a manner that conveyed open curiosity. Getting the right balance of knowing expertise and feckless innocence was something that had taken hours with an acting coach. "Before I do that, could I ask the room, which of the taglines stuck with you the most?"

She let the question hang until she saw the first furrowed brow clear with understanding. "The reason I ask is that..." Carla paused, feeding the words out as a softball. As she expected, one of the junior VPs finished her sentence for her, eager to show how much he knew about advertising.

"... is so you can introduce the one that did well in the focus groups. If it's sticky with them, it should be sticky with us." The man finished on a self-satisfied note, pleased with himself not only for figuring it out, but for beating his rivals to the punch in explaining it to the room.

Carla tilted her head and acknowledged him. She, of course, saw what he did not: the rest of the executives, having missed it, resented having it explained to them, and therefore treated it as an obvious ploy on Carla's part. Rather than admit to themselves that they were late to get the joke, they acted as though they'd been in on it with Carla all along.

Exactly as she'd intended.

"That's right," Carla said to the junior VP, "so with your indulgence -" this, to the CEO, who nodded her permission, "- I'll ask you to consider which taglines stuck with you. Obviously, after taking a major position in the ad space, the tagline will get solid repetition, ensuring verbatim mindshare. For now, though, please make a note of the couple you remember, and write them down." When few people made a move to actually write anything, Carla spoke to the CEO. "I can assure you that this is a worthwhile exercise." The CEO paused, shrugged and scribbled something in a margin of one of the financial reports. The rest of the room followed suit.

Carla turned back to the pad and flipped the pages again, peeling off four of them. They functioned like huge Post-It notes, allowing her to stick them to the walls.

"Now then," she continued, "I'm going to guess that not all of you remembered the same ones. As you might image, we focus-grouped these taglines extensively, with all fourteen of the major potential demographic slices. The most statistically significant breakdown runs like this, in order of expected revenue stream." She pointed to each of the four slogans as she spoke.

"For Caucasian women over 57 with no serious health issues: NovoGene - because there's nothing wrong with you that some fresh DNA won't fix."

"For Caucasian women between 24 and 38, irrespective of medical history: When it's time to get great, it's time for NovoGene."

"For Asian men between 38 and 57, irrespective of medical history: NovoGene: You, only better."

She stepped back from the pages on the wall, gave the room a moment to absorb the overview, then nodded to her assistant. Brian opened the file box by his seat against the wall and pulled out copies of the demographic survey reports. He began distributing them to the executives seated around the table.

Carla looked around the room, drilling her words into everyone except the CEO. "Yes, we're going to be first to market. Yes, we're going to have the most diverse product line. Yes, we're going to have repeat customers when the replicant plasmids wear out and get metabolized. But we're not going to make the kind of money we could make unless we reach the customers we need to reach and lock them in early." With her final words, she made eye contact with the CEO.

The CEO nodded and said, "Agreed."

And THAT'S how you get a $12,000,000 bonus
, Carla thought. It's all about the show business.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. show business indeed. LOL A lesson in marketing?

  2. The delivery always makes a stronger case than the actual data.

  3. I like those more blatant, almost hideous ones at the end. That is how you nail a bonus!

  4. She plays them like a Stradivarius...

    marc nash

  5. Hard to like somebody like that though isn't it!

  6. All about making them believe. Mind messing is always a favourite of mine.

  7. "NovoGene: You, only better." I love this one. Sounds like something the Umbrella corporation would use!

    Great stuff, Tony. I knew you'd provide for us!

    *I spotted a slight typo in line 4, though.

  8. "But we're not going to make the kind of money we could make unless we reach the customers we need to reach and lock them in early."

    She's not just talking about the prospective NovoGene customers is she?

    Nice one!

  9. Freightening near-term SF highlighting the cosmetic gene therapy idea disguised as a marketing story. I loved it.

  10. Freightening near-term SF highlighting the cosmetic gene therapy idea disguised as a marketing story. I loved it.

  11. I like the 'You, only better.' Just my two cents...

    Oh, and yeah, nice story! ;)

  12. I would not want to come across her in a business situation!

  13. I like "You, only better" the best too (and I didn't go back and review them!).

    I know an awful lot of people who should not only read this, but take notes on it.

  14. Nice. The CEO is a woman and the assistant is a male. :-)

  15. Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone. I had mixed emotions about this one almost immediately after posting. Still not all that happy with it, but there was something about the main character that almost demanded being written. She's cold and calculating, a dispassionate, manipulative schemer. I wonder who she is?

  16. I've just re-read the piece, there's clearly no typo. I'm a dumbass. Thanks again though, Tony!

  17. I repeat Jack in reguards to the "You, only better" line.

  18. Can Carla come in and teach my students how to give a presentation?


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