The account rep jumped right into it: “we’re thrilled to have your account, but I’m afraid your numbers are down since our initial chat.”
“You’re kiddin’ me.”
“I’m afraid not, and I don’t want to sugar-coat it,” the lead consultant said. “We always get our best results when we start with an honest appraisal of the landscape.” She switched the projector on, and started her presentation: “according to our research, belief in you is down to less than a fraction of one percent.”
Thunder shook the conference room, knocking over glasses and the pitcher of water. The other consultants looked down, and the intern, Tiffany, bolted. (Whether in terror or to get a towel to clean up, she didn’t say.)
The lead consultant remained standing, and kept her cool. She’d had tougher clients — all those movie people, for example. After waiting for the rumbling to stop, she cleared her throat and said: “I have good news too.”
She clicked to the next slide, and said, “If you look at the segmented audiences, you are way up in the head-banging power metal market, though we suspect they are just worshiping you for the clothes.”
“Wait, what? For the clothes?”
“Yes, you still have the whole heavy metal thing going for you. Punk too. But the fact is, the numbers are up. Six percent of them believe you exist.”
“Only six percent?”
“People just aren’t as keen on your bleak Nordic attitude as they used to be. But, Thor — can I call you Thor?”
“Thor is fine.”
“Thor. Great. At least you’re still here, and we think we can improve your fan base significantly.”
“What do you mean, still here?”
“You didn’t know? Some of the other Norse gods are disappearing. Bragi evaporated just last week.”
“What do you mean evaporated? He’s the God of Poetry, damnit!”
“Poetry? Do you have any idea how irrelevant poetry is — I mean demographically? He’s lucky he only disappeared last week. Once you drop below a critical level of awareness . . .” The lead consultant blew on her fingers, and spread them apart. “Poof. I mean, nobody even knew about Bragi, except some scholars and Dungeons and Dragons freaks.”
“How am I doing with the D&D crowd?” Thor asked.
“Yes, I’m glad you brought that up. That’s on the next slide. Look! An increase of 15 percent in prayer — not fervent, and not authentic, of course, but at least it’s simulated prayer.”
“Still, what a bunch a poindexters.”
“Sure, sure. However, let’s be positive. Remember we’re looking for a platform to build our branding efforts on.” She brightened: “Julie from our entertainment division has some great news.”
Julie took the remote from the lead consultant, and opened the next deck of slides.
“What the hell is that?” Thor grunted.
“That is the cover of The Mighty Thor #160.”
“A comic book? Is that supposed to be me? I never wore tights. By My Hammer, why am I wearing a freakin’ red cape?”
“It was the 60s.”
“What does this have to do with me?”
“Because Marvel makes movies out of comics, and Thor is almost in production!” Julie said. She was enthusiastic, but nervous. (It was her first time pitching.)
“Movies are big. Think of the platform. I hope they can get Matt Damon to play you.”
“Will it make more people start worshipping me?”
Julie was as chirpy as they get, but that threw her. There was an awkward silence as she considered what kind of delusional freakazoid would start worshiping a character in a movie?
“Um, remember that what we’re going for here is awareness,” the lead consultant jumped in.
Julie rallied: “like . . . you’ve got a day named after you!”
“Yeah, but nobody remembers that Thursday is named for me,” Thor brooded. Thunder rumbled and some of the other consultants looked up, emboldened either by the passing storm of Thor’s wrath, or perhaps Julie’s inexorable perkiness.
Thor stood up, and lifted his hammer. “Look, isn’t there anything I can do?” Thor asked. Even holding his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, he hated how whiny he sounded. If only he could just go back to Midgard and bust some heads!
“Of course there is! We love the hammer, by the way, and we’re already in talks with Mike Holmes about getting you a guest spot on his renovation show.”
“It’s not that kind of hammer,” Thor said. “It’s for fighting giants and world-eating snakes. It throws freakin’ lightning bolts!”
“Sure, sure, but what if we bring the inherent sexiness of fighting monsters to the home improvement industry?”
“Like, imagine you threw lightning bolts to demolish an old busted up home, and then you and Mike magically rebuilt a new house in the same day,” Julie chirped.
“You want me to build houses?” Thunder shouted, and an ear-splitting clap of thunder shook the room. Several consultants bolted. The remaining PR people contemplated the table — even Julie.
“Okay, it doesn’t have to be home renovation. Comic books, movies, TV shows, promoting Thursday — these are just ideas at this point. The critical thing is that we have to get you out there. You need to get in the public’s consciousness, especially since a certain deity has such a stranglehold on public awareness –”
“That shit Yahweh.”
“Yep,” the lead consultant confirmed.
“He’s Allah too, remember. And just “God” to the Christians. Our research shows even agnostics kind of dig him,” Julie said.
“Yahweh has problems,” the lead consultant said. “His numbers are down in Europe, and a significant percentage of his people are killing themselves in his name.”
“Nice… wait, what’s wrong with that?” Thor asked.
“He’s just not happy about the optics of it; I mean, he’s not really in favour of the sex thing, and these suicide bombers are mostly doing it for the virgins.”
“Yeah, they’ve been promised virgins in the afterlife.”
Thor was thoughtful. “That’s a much better promise than the whole Ragnarök oblivion thing.”
The lead consultant smiled. “Why don’t we start with getting rid of Ragnarök, and promoting something just a little more positive.
“Wait until you see what our intern Tiffany has for your Facebook profile, and she says her Twitter program is just sick.”