Feng Shui for Cubists

A young copywriter meets the real mad men of advertising and is tasked with finding a way to sell the byproducts of hydraulic fracturing as an ice-cream-like treat to children in developing nations

by Terry Dugan
© 2011

Cast of Characters
TRUST, CEO of The Trust Corporation
HLAVA, the head of the agency
LEACH, the advertising manager
PULATER, a senior copywriter
McDONALDS, a senior copywriter
COX, a junior copywriter
GRUEN, a new copywriter

SCENE: An advertising office meeting room.

AT RISE: GRUEN is sitting at a table, taking part in an orientation.
COX, who has only a middle finger on his left hand, is
lecturing him. There is a box sitting on the table.

…Advertising is bullshit. Marketing is bullshit!

(Pause. COX cackles and points at GRUEN with his middle fingers.)

You believe me. You believe me.

(GRUEN shrugs his shoulders to agree without commitment. COX
cackles again.)

Gotcha! You can’t escape my control. I made you believe that, even for a second, the possibility existed that marketing was bullshit, that advertising was bullshit. That one second is all I need to plant my seed and grow my thoughts in your mind. Oh, I am good!

Advertising and marketing are bullshit.

Jesus, Gruen, that’s a stupid thing to say! I understand why you would say it because my power of persuasion is overwhelming, but Jesus. Marketers have the most important jobs in the world. We’re the reason why people smile, why civilization is civilized. Without us, we’d live in a world of mass suicide, lower birth rates, eternal wars of attrition that have only one outcome: the end of humanity. Our work ensures that man will endure another generation.

I know.

Oh, I don’t think you know.

Oh, I do know.

You couldn’t possibly know.

Of course, I know. This is what I do. I’m good at it.

COX (laughs)
I’m sure you think you’re good. Your middle-American, “Aw, shucks, will you buy this,” style of salesmanship might sell a couple all-weather tires in that Podunk town you’re from, that village. But you’re not in Los Angeles anymore. This is New York City. This is where the future happens now, not three hours from now. This is where advertising is a tourist attraction, and without it, Times Square would be nothing more than another ring of hell. But at least we have it. In Los Angeles, you have some beat-up old sign that tells you that some place interesting is the other way.

Being myopic is a prerequisite for living in New York.

If I knew what that word meant, I’d tell you you were wrong.

You know “myopic”; you’ve heard people say it. Just like any word you don’t know, it means what you think it means.

I’m sure I know what it means, then.

It’s OK to be ignorant to words. That’s what makes my campaigns so successful, like my famous Myopia campaign. To some people, myopia is a short-sighted mindset. But when Myopia, with a capital M, is the name I give to a refreshing, mostly corn-syrup-based fruit drink from a powdered concentrate, then it’s a state of euphoria you enter when a drop of this liquid stings your tongue. “That’s Myopia.”

And I’m sure the brain power you invested in Myopia was well worth the two chickens and a goat that client traded you for it. In New York, people pay big money for big ideas, to subvert civilization. Your Myopia is nice, it’s cute, it’s fun, but people don’t pay us the big bucks to come up with slogans and jingles. They pay us to change the world.

(McDONALDS enters. He is missing an arm.)

Good morning, idiot.

(McDONALDS and COX touch heads.)

Good morning, sir.

And you’re, Gruen, the new kid from Los Francisco. I’m your boss, McDonalds.

(McDONALDS grabs GRUEN by the head, and they touch heads)

I see you’ve met the office afterbirth, Cox. (COX laughs.) Well, he was until you came. Congratulations on your promotion to second-worst copywriter in this agency.

Thank you, sir!

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