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ABSURDVERTISING

The day before I headed off to the cabin I ran onto King Leer having a beer, or two, at the Taku (which, alas, is not in Kalamazoo). King Leer was one of the few who seemed to understand almost everything that went down, even though he left for a Spanish vacation two days after we got to the Yukon – if he’d have been there, he’d have understood. The good and kindly King, who is in the habit of wearing nothing but black (“just until a darker colour is discovered,” he assures me) was in a gregarious mood as I ambled into the bar.

“Your Majesty. Judging from the mirth in your voice I assume all is well in your Kingdom?”

“Salmi you weirdo, sit down.”

“But of course, Your Highness. Que pasa, amigo?”

“Trying to come up with a new campaign for one of my clients. Have a beer and see if something spews forth from that sick and twisted lump of festering, alcohol-saturated grey matter between your ears.”

“At your service, good King.” The client was a small, northern cell phone company called NMI. They were looking for a back-to-school advertising campaign. King Leer explained the details as I quaffed a couple pints of Arctic Red. Sufficiently endowed with the necessary information, I begged His Majesty’s leave and sallied forth to gather provisions for my much-needed cabin-sitting holiday.

Shortly after 4 a.m. I was awoken by the familiar giggling of the Evil Clown Gods. As I figured they might, my tormenting masters had come up with a campaign for King Leer’s client. I pulled out my ever-present steno pad and pen, took dictation and waited for a reasonable hour to present the ECGs’ offering for the King’s consideration.

“Salmi. You still sleeping, you bum?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I am. I went back to sleep after coming up with the NMI campaign for you, Your Majesty. Please don’t banish me from this magical Kingdom of yours.”

“You got something!?”

“You’re gonna like it! You’re gonna like it a lot. Your client, however….”

“I’ll worry about that. You wanna meet somewhere? Wanna come by? Want me to come there?”

“Let me run through it for you now. If you like it, I’ll email it to you and you can brood on it and play with it while I’m away.”

“Sure.”

“Okay… this is weird.”

Of course it’s weird. You’re weird. Is it funny?”

“Fuck yeah! Okay, there are two premises that I play with. Booty calls and first contact.”

“First contact? By aliens? Like the movie?”

“Correct.”

“I love it already.”

“It’s too bad that this isn’t a TV campaign. But, if they like it, we can shoot it and throw it up on the web. Actually, that’s probably the best way to pitch it.”

“Told you, they’re looking for print and radio only.”

“Fuckin’ neanderthals. Never mind. I’m going to give it to you as a viral video ad.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“The opening scene is a guy talking on his NMI cell phone….”

“Making a booty call, I bet!”

“Correct. Making a booty call. The guy says ‘Come on baby. I can be there in five minutes. You know you want it.’ Cut to a babe, on her NMI cell, saying ‘Keep talking, Romeo. I’m listening.’ The two of them keep talking but you can’t hear them because a voice drowns them out ‘Booty calls. Can’t make one, can’t get one without a phone.’”

“Brilliant. And?”

“Camera pulls away from the guy and girl, who are on a split screen, very quickly. Pulls all the way off the planet, where a UFO comes into focus and finally into the cockpit of the ship.”

Cock pit! Yeah! Love it!”

“Easy Beavis. Let’s call it the bridge instead of the cockpit. Like Star Trek. But everyone on the bridge is an alien babe.”

“All of them?

“Yeah.”

“From the planet Lesbos, no doubt.”

“As you wish, Sire. The alien babe captain walks onto the bridge and asks, ‘What are you doing?’ The other alien babes are concentrating on a conversation they’ve picked up from the blue-green planet they’re orbiting.”

“The booty call! They’re listening to the booty call?”

“Correct. In the corner of the screen you can see the guy and girl doin’ their booty call. All the alien babe underlings are getting all hot and bothered. Squirming and writhing around in their seats. One of the alien babe underlings answers, “Listening to the Earthlings. It seems to be some sort of mating ritual. Something they refer to as a booty call’. The announcer’s voice comes on again ‘Everyone loves a booty call. Makin’ one, getting’ one, or just listening in on one’.”

“Yeah, yeah! Booty calls! Boooooty calls!”

“You’re likin’ this, huh?”

“Lovin’ it! Keep going!”

“The alien babe captain says ‘Booty call? Mating ritual? Is it interesting?’ Alien babe underling answers ‘It’s making me really hot.’ All the other alien babes agree by saying, in unison, ‘Me too!’. The announcer’s voice comes back ‘Booty calls will make you hot. NMI has a hot deal on the ultimate booty call phone.’”

“That’s funny!”

“Wait. There’s more.”

“Yeah. Go Salmi. Booty call phone!”

“Alien babe captain looks right into the camera and says ‘The Earthling booty call has made us all hot.’ The other alien babes agree and say ‘Oh yeah. Booty calls make us hot!’ Alien babe captain looks at her underlings and declares ‘We must abduct some earthlings and probe them!’”

“And the announcer comes back and says ‘Make booty calls on your NMI phone and have alien babes abduct and probe you?’” asked the puzzled King. “I don’t think they’ll go for that, Salmi.”

“Well, I like it and it’s close… very close… but not quite.”

“Sorry. Go on.”

“All the alien babe underlings agree with their captain ‘Yes! Abduct the earthlings and probe them!’ But one of the alien babe underlings says ‘No captain! The Prime Directive! We cannot abduct and probe the Earthlings without their consent.’”

“Damn the Prime Directive! Abduct the Earthlings and probe them!” King Leer yelled.

“Exactly the sentiment of the alien babes, Sire. The alien babe captain says ‘Damn! I hate the Prime Directive! Damn the Intergalactic High Commission and its stupid Prime Directive! They send us out here and make us listen to Earthling booty calls, get us all hot and bothered and then tell us we can’t abduct and probe the Earthlings!’” I waited for King Leer to stop laughing before carrying on. It took at least 30 seconds. “The alien babe underlings start exclaiming ‘Bad Prime Directive! Boo-hiss the Prime Directive. Boo-hiss the Prime Directive. So hot!”

“They’ll never go for it but it’ll make ‘em laugh.”

“This is a back-to-school campaign. It’s for high school and college kids. They’ll love it.”

“The kids will, yeah. But not the client.”

“Your client wants a campaign the kids will ignore, huh?.”

“I’ll pitch it but….”

“Just wait. There’s more.”

“More?”

“Of course. That was the hook, this is the sell. This is the clever part. Alien babe captain says ‘God, I’m so hot! Booty call the Earthlings! Make contact!”

“And that’s how aliens finally make first contact?”

“Exactly. The announcer comes back and says ‘Earthlings have waited millennia for this moment. On September 11 the aliens will make first contact with one lucky NMI customer. On September 11, when you hear your NMI cell phone ring, be sure to answer. If you hear a hot and bothered alien babe saying – Greetings Earthling. This is Salamar of the planet… “

“Lesbos!?”

“Sure. Of the planet Lesbos. ‘If you hear a hot and bothered alien babe saying – Greetings Earthling. This is Salamar of the planet Lesbos. This is a booty call. Will you grant me permission to abduct and probe you? – congratulations! You’ve won!’”

“What do they win?”

“Whatever. Free cell phones and air time for life. Whatever the fuck they wanna give away. What do we care?”

“Yeah. It’s long though. Really long.”

“Well, one does not question the offerings of the Evil Clown Gods who Rule the Universe, King. I just take dictation. You wanna argue with the Evil Clown Gods, be my guest.”

“No, no. I don’t wanna mess with them. I’m just a lowly King.”

“Get a bunch of hot alien babes wandering around wherever the campaign is running, collecting email addresses and send the ad out. Let the web work its magic after that. That ad will go around the world in hours. You can chop it into smaller sections for print and radio. Release a new section every week until you reach….”

“The climax!”

“Sure. The climax.”

“They’ll never go for it.”

“But it’ll make ‘em laugh?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“So, fuck ‘em. Pitch it anyway. If they turn it down we can shop it to a much bigger company down south. Bigger budgets. More open-minded potential clients. More competitive market.”

“What do we have to lose?”

“Nothing. NMI might think you’ve lost your mind and pull their contract.”

“I doubt it. Let me worry about that.”

“Yeah. Not my problem. I’ll email it over to you.”

“Yeah. Do that. Call me when you get back and we’ll see where we are. In the unlikely chance that they do go for it, what do you want for this?”

“Millions, of course. And the Cyber Lion at the Cannes Festival of Advertising. But I’ll settle for less.”

“Okay. It’s good stuff Salmi. Let me see if I can find a way to sell it to someone. Call me when you get back.”

“Will do. Later, Sire.”

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