Nothing is sacred in the corporate state. Certainly not our privacy, the choices we make for our personal life. Our intimate information, our financial histories, our medical records--our shoe size, our toilet paper brand--have all become commodities fed into the money maw. Now even our whereabouts are fare game. It used to be that if someone stalked you, you could get police protection. But Yahoo! lets corporations track your every move around the Internet by slapping cookies on when you ask Yahoo! for mail or weather or a map. The cost of that free service is your freedom. And it's legal.
Sometimes when I am on a wireless call, I get to hear another wireless call and wonder who else might be eavesdropping on mine. Somedays my fax machine is blitzed with spam at my expense. We live by invasive procedures. I try not to let them boggle my calm. But the following fax came, obviously by mistake. Since there is no privacy any more and nothing left sacred, and because everybody is blogging everything they can think of just to get attention, I thought I should share it. Think of it as being in the spirit of Christmas.
FROM THE OFFICES OF MALARKY TURNBULL
Dear Ben Edict:
On behalf of everyone at Malarky, Turnbull, thank you for believing we can revive the fortunes of MotherChurch FSH, and ramp up your market share in the new millenium. Although no one’s been in the virtual reality business so long as you, when Michael Jackson turns white and venerable Betty Crocker gets a facelift, we’re glad you recognize the importance of makeovers. Especially when some of your competition undercuts your concept of forever by pushing the nimbleness of Now.
Like you, we’re proud to be a full service, one‑stop shop with a dedicated host of special humans. Already the newly appointed project coordinator, Kiri Ellie Zahn, has contracted with Giorgio Armani to design stained glasses for optical boutiques doing business as The Holy See. First Vice President 2.0, Rex Treemenday, has designed a website, Infallible.org, which will be for the Bishoprics –a group that should begin to think about a name change.
We are however in favor of keeping the brand name on your top product. After all it’s now very much a household word. Like Kleenex, God is the generic default in its class. That is the good news. So is the fact that here is one product we can claim was not made in China. The other news is that our focus groups reveal consumers are not only in denial about behaving like herded animals. They become outraged at the mere suggestion that they do. So we’d like to replace that old concept of God as the shepherd and them as a flock with something more acceptably up to date. What do you think of this: The Lord is my personal trainer.
Now, to be frank, our marketing people have some problems with your God product. The biggest is that this God thing is designed to work 24/7, one size fits all. It seems that consumers pass God down the family line, creating an imperishable hand‑me‑down with the esteemed patina of an heirloom so venerated no one dares to de‑accession it. Comparisons are odious but dreaded nuclear elements have a half- life shorter than the 2,006 years your stuff lasts.
It is my job to tell you that today tenure in the market means perishable or perish. Look at the billions Microsoft makes re‑issuing new versions of its old product every two years because it can’t get the damned thing right. Your product, God, is so utterly devoid of planned obsolescence it doesn’t even require a battery. An item with no replacement or maintenance potential turns off market segments like mechanics, salesmen, insurers, assessors, accountants, critics, appraisers, consultants, writers of multi-choice tests, designers, retrofitters and all those nice people at Good Will.
Don’t misunderstand. We like tradition. It proves you’re not just another nouveau one‑person@ home business hiding behind a toll free 888 number. You can keep your publishing branch but you do need to update your list as you haven’t issued a book in 1800 years, and that last only a sequel. Our legal people have proposed two potential titles: Encyclicals for Dummies and Hiring a Lawyer To Defend Your Last Rites. Our media people want to capitalize on the cookbook craze with Recipes from the Last Supper: favorite foods of Judas, Jesus and the Jerusalem 12. They also think you should get in on the current craze for wines by leveraging your long history of wine tasting into a consumer website www.wafer‑chaser.org. and promote it with banner ads like Got zinfandel?
This brings me to a sensitive issue. Why doesn’t a world- renowned crisis management
organization like yours have an 800 toll free hotline? Just leaving testimonial books in hotel drawers doesn’t do it when the rape people have hotlines, the suicide folks, even the IRS has been forced into phone banks. A helpline could rocket you into the lucrative support group business. Our media people have therefore gone ahead and reserved two numbers for display on public transit and late night TV: 1‑888 ‑holy cow and 1‑800 ‑ohmygod.
Think how a phone bank would optimize your Saints division: If you are calling about pest control push 1 for Patrick. If you are calling about sexual harassment push 2 for Joan. If you are calling in a veterinary crisis push 3 for Francis. To talk music push 4 for Cecelia. Husband straying again? push 5: Hey Jude!
Of course for this new campaign we cannot guarantee the longevity you’ve enjoyed with your others, particularly the one in which you advertised everlasting power. Certainly you were way ahead of that stupid bunny. But there are limits to the long view and longterm. With your competition pushing that idea of Now and other organizations promising Instant Pudding and instant gratification, we feel that asking people to wait until they die for their investment to pay off makes you user‑unfriendly. In the hurry-up society we have to work with, we urge you to sell off Hereafter, your life insurance division, and expand into debit‑driven Any Time Salvation machines dispensing Instant Forgiveness.
As for other niches to fill—emptiness, don’t forget, is the pitch of your competition-- we’re devising various Mass market angles: Hosannas—a chain of theme restaurants, naming a stadium Crucifix Park and setting up a search engine called God Knows. We’d like to launch a perfume called Eau Lord and break into the lucrative latte business with a bottled milk and honey beverage called Sweet Jesus. In the ever proliferating pack of self centered magazines, we could reposition Lent as a diet program and position you as THE pioneer of the meatless trend since you forced people to eat fish on Fridays. You were of course also creator of the fatless fad by always offering wine and crackers without the cheese. That should be a boost.
Because a seasonal carol here and there can’t compete with the year round, all‑purpose Candle in the Wind we’re negotiating with Madonna to record “Ain’t that the Gospel Truth” and with Snoop Dogg Pup to rap the catechism. You could introduce a line of black robed resort wear sold exclusively at your own chain of discount warehouse clubs: Messiah’s. And finally since the reigning world holder of blindly faithful hearts and minds, the Federal Reserve Bank of America, has made the Sabbath now the day after Sunday, we recommend you cash in by smothering all that TGIF blither with Gloria Monday.
If you like that idea we can launch it by securing you personally a spot on Oprah. After all, you are the answer to every woman’s prayer: a single CEO with a unisex wardrobe, no asset‑chasing ex‑wife and no kids to fund for college. So until my next fax, I thank you again on behalf of all of us at Malarky, Turnbull for your faith in our power to save you.