Categories
celebrity fiction

They want to love you but they’re just too cynical

Storm
All I’m saying is, we need to earn our bonuses this year. Can you believe my brain belched that out after spilling the Kraken’s Mortlach on your iPad?

Marcus
Do you think he’ll notice?

Storm
Do you think he’ll care? I mean, our boss move will cement us as the witch doctors of public relations. Here, I think I spilled some on you.

Marcus
I don’t think it’s…

Krajeck
Girls? What’s up. .

Storm
We have a presentation for the Raven account that, if it meets your approval, we should jump on right now.

Krajeck
Speak.

Storm
Marcus wants to pitch first.

Marcus
Thank you, Storm. Raven has needed a new win after that VH1 documentary flopped.

Krajeck
Right. Everyone wants to out-Madonna Madonna. I told her not to do it, but she insisted on having a what?

Storm
An important part of her brand to archive in the history books.

Krajeck
I’ve never met someone so engrossed in their own myth. We kept the VH1 flop out of the press and edited it out of Wikipedia. What? Did you hear she’s shopping for a new publicist?

Marcus
No, Sir. And as for her tour, camera phones took images of empty seats at several concert venues. The rumours about her husband cheating had already come out. So, she might be listening to other people and not just us.

Krajeck
Hmmm. She’s a brand, or whatever. Everything is someone else’s fault. How are perfume sales?

Storm
We bought up this season’s batch right out of the factory in Macau at wholesale price. Her holding company should be reporting a large sales volume.

Krajeck
Where did you dump this batch?

Storm
We gave a bottle to every C list stylist and fashion blogger we could find. Then, we let Chinese customs confiscate the rest. We contacted department stores to tell them there’s a wait list for new product. The rest should pop up on eBay.

Krajeck
Marcus?

Marcus
Thank you. As I was saying. We need to orchestrate a win that has no threat of backfiring negatively. Storm and I came up with a plan to use the firm’s entertainment industry connections in India. We want to do what we’ll call an “unconventional album release.” No marketing, no leaks, no pre-release interviews. We say it’s the fans that made the venture successful.

Krajeck
We bought all of her 13.7 Twitter followers and she’s only tweeted eight times. How can we get an album released in stealth if she hasn’t tweeted since 2013?

Storm
We want to  lock down the largest call centre in Mumbai, JavaStar, and our army of Twitter sock puppets. First, we create a pre-order sales listing for the album. We do not actually upload the album. The call centre workers will use IP proxy software to make purchases from various locations, including the United States.

Krajeck
That’s super expensive. Can’t we buy the album at a huge discount? Like the Samsung deal?

Marcus
Yes, but her image is sustained on this aura of greatness and glory. She can’t maintain that aura by doing things in the conventional way. As for money, it doesn’t matter what the pre-order sales price is. It could be one cent.

Storm
We release the album for pre-order quietly tonight on iTunes at a basement price. JavaStar buys up as many copies as possible before five tomorrow morning, our time. When everyone wakes up, history has been made. Another top-selling album has been born. Number one is what people expect from Raven, but this time, we give them number one with a twist.

Krajeck
Her management team might go for that.

Storm
There are only three people in the world who know about this. We are standing here in this room.

Krajeck
I see your point but someone will notice the basement price tomorrow morning, and one screen grab later, it’s game over.

Marcus
Not if we restore the price to $13.59 by five in the morning. Since there is no album to download, customers will get error messages. It creates confusion, increases demand, and adds to the “we can’t download it fast enough” storyline. Also, we don’t sell individual songs. It’s the whole album at one go. That will generate complaints, which will also feed the story. If someone catches the low price, we pretend it was an iTunes malfunction, but it’ll probably get lost in the noise.

Storm
As I’ve said, we’re not going to need the actual album. We need the album cover art and permission to upload it for sale as a pre-order. Her people don’t ever need to know what we’re up to. She’ll stay with us.

Marcus
For our plan to be found out, someone would have to know the album’s being released tomorrow and then search for the name.

Krajeck
Apple won’t go for it.

Marcus
Actually, they have to go for it. Their contract does not stipulate any minimum or maximum price points. So, we can name any price we want, and change it when we want to. The price change affects her commission only. That’s for her record company to worry about.

Krajeck
How many sales are you aiming for?

Storm
We want to try and do two hundred thousand downloads in four hours. The call centre rents by the hour, and they’ve given us a “four hours for $50,000” deal. In terms of the way iTunes calculates “success” of a release, that many downloads in four hours would be phenomenal. We need a detailed protocol and everyone has to stick to it. It will push the album to number one. The iTunes report would be enough to distract everyone from the failed tour.

Krajeck
So, two hundred thousand downloads at one cent, each. We could use the retainer account to pay for it, but we still have to create one hundred thousand unique iTunes accounts. Factoring in the cost of each gift card, rental space for the call centre and your Twitter people. Great idea, but too much of a bother to execute.

Storm
Not necessarily. And that’s why no one will even think of it.

Krajeck
Walk me through it, one more time.

Marcus
Again, the call centre workers in Mumbai buy up as many of the albums as they can in a short space of time. At 4.55 our time, we tweet about the official release from Raven’s Twitter account. We let the bots retweet to other celebrity Twitter bot accounts to create visibility. At that point, we suspend the buying spree and restore the album pre-release price to the original $13.59. Then we wait for the press to bite.

Krajeck
Are we using the Romanians again?

Storm
Yes. They can make the tweets appear to be globally distributed. We could request that Twitter send those statistics around to the music blogs.

Krajeck
Can we afford three million retweets?

Marcus
Yes, we pay them per hundred thousand tweets anyway, so it’s like thirty units. Costs are minimal. The last time, they told me they install trojans on computers or game consoles as far away as Southeast Asia. So, that’s how I know the retweets are doable in our timeline. While the retweets are happening in Asia, people are at school or at work and won’t notice. When it’s time to start the retweeting in the US, people are at school or at work, well after our sales drive finished in Mumbai. We move backwards from the International Date Line, to mitigate the time discrepancies.

Krajeck
I see. So it looks like the release tweet was done at five in the morning to take advantage of the time lag and get people in Asia to buy her album first. Then, we Americans pick up on it on the same day and that will drive up sales. If this works to raise the legitimate sales and no-one twigs, we do a super download to drive up domestic sales at the end of the year.

Storm
That’s a great idea, since iTunes reports album sales numbers only.

Krajeck
Marcus, I want a complete, step by step technical explanation from your team in Mumbai so I can understand exactly how this stuff works. If something can go wrong, I need to see it beforehand.

Marcus
I’ll get on it right away.

Storm
Sir.

By ΠιCΘLΣ

Life is short, so let’s be decent.