Short Form Brian
By Jane Hyphen
‘I’m so nervous Jackie, I don’t think I can eat any breakfast.’
‘Oh Brian, for goodness sake, take some deep breaths and have a few mouthfuls of granola.’
‘Okay, a few mouthfuls of granola, yes, good idea Jackie.’ Brian stood in front of the large mirror in the dining room and watched himself chewing on toasted oats and plump raisins.
Jackie was still in her pink satin dressing gown. She was her husband’s champion and quite certain that he had nothing to fear. ‘You managed that health food shop for eighteen year Brian!’ She said as she waved a green tea bag backwards and forwards in a mug of hot water. ‘You did all the marketing, the ads, the accounts, the purchasing, point of sale. If they didn’t bite your hand off they’d be absolutely mad.’
‘Yes, let’s hope so Jackie. I’d better go, I’ll be late.’
‘Now, you did chew that granola properly didn’t you?’
‘Yes, yes! I’ve got to go. Wish me luck,’ he said, kissing her hard on the cheek.
‘You won’t need it love. Call me later and let me know how it went.’
It was a forty minute drive to the headquarters of Beyond Avocado. An ex colleague had told him about the job, said he had the right credentials but something told Brian that the company would be full of young, trendy people and he wouldn’t fit in. However he brushed these thoughts away with the positive thinking mantras that Jackie had taught him.
He parked his Yaris in a spot, just near the entrance. They’re bound to be impressed with my environmentally friendly car, he thought and he regained some confidence as he skipped up the steps and into the building.
After a short wait, he was called into a large room where a panel of three people greeted him; Hailey, who was very young and covered in tattoos, Leyton, a smart man in his thirties with inconceivably smooth skin and Carrie, an older lady, immaculately groomed. It surprised Brian that there was no desk separating them, just three chairs opposite his single chair and an expanse of grey carpet tiles on the floor between them.
‘So Brian,’ Leyton began, ‘Carrie is our CMO and she’ll be doing most of the talking today. I’m the HR director and Hailey does PR.’
Carrie cleared her throat and smiled. ‘To be honest Brian, I didn’t have time to get through all your personal statement, it was TLTR.’ They all laughed for a few seconds and Brian began to disappear inside himself. ‘But if the rest was as interesting as the first paragraph then you’ve been a busy man and it sounds like you understand the health and wellness industry, albeit, in a face to face environment.’
‘Yes,’ Brian sat on the palms of his hands, nodding his head. ‘I was the forefront of this industry long before it became, you know, trendy. I ran GrapeGrain Organics for eighteen years, it was all Panda liquorice and prunes in those days, we’ve come a long way.’
‘So,’ Leyton leant forward in his chair and peered at Brian. ‘How do you think you can translate all that face to face realtime background to an equally positive digital CX?’
Hailey took a sharp intake of breath and said, ‘Let me help you out here Brian. I know you’ve applied for a marketing position but do you see yourself involved more in the CRM side of things? Things can and do go wrong from time to time, even here, although YoY, our order error figures have improved considerably.’
‘Yes, they have.’ Leyton said nodding.
Brian gazed up at the art on the walls. Close up photographs of Brazil nuts and happy looking farm workers harvesting vegetables with scythes, laughing, baring teeth. There was something not quite right about the scenes depicted.
‘I once ordered eighteen thousand boxes of Chia Seed instead of eighty,’ Brian blurted out. ‘But I managed to salvage the situation somewhat by printing Chia Seed recipes in the local paper and running an accompanying special offer. I also took several boxes home and ground them up in my NutriBullet to make a body scrub, which I also sold at the local farmers market. The feedback I got from local ladies was very positive, the seeds, when crushed, are a great buffing tool for the epidermis.’
‘Great, great news!’ said Leyton. ‘Very enterprising. Now, we’re currently in the process of an exciting NPD.’
‘Oh,’ said Brian, attempting to appear very interested while desperately trying to decipher the initials NPD. Narcissistic personality disorder? No, can’t be.
‘Yes,’ interjected Carrie very calmly. It’s a new breakfast cereal and a range of other wholefoods, we’re calling it Superbowel, for now.’
‘It’s specifically designed by intestinal health experts to give you lifetime freedom from bloat and constipation.’ Leyton said, beaming with pride.
‘We’re looking for ideas,’ said Hailey. ‘Currently it’s at the pre-launch phase but we released an MVP some months ago and the feedback was hot, red hot. It would be great to get some CM involvement. Do you have experience with that?’
‘Erm, CM, sorry I’m not sure what that is.’
‘Celebrity marketing Brian,’ said Carrie.
‘Oh,’ Brain thought for a few seconds. ‘Yes, the local weather guy did an appearance at our annual dried figs day. It ties in with your, what is it again….superbowel, yes. I was just thinking about that, you could have cheerleaders. Hahaha….ha ha.’
Brian continued to laugh as the panel watched him and glanced at each other bemused. ‘I don’t think there’s any need to have real people turn up anywhere these days Brian. At the heart of our AIDA model is getting somebody who looks healthy and beautiful to display our Superbowel range on social media outlets.’
‘Oh, yes, that’s what it’s all about now isn’t it,’ Brian said, feeling fully out of his depth. A
drowning man among a panel of professionals, fully equipped with flotation devices. Buoyancy, built up simply from staying abreast of the modern world while he had worked himself away in one job for a couple of decades.
‘Tell us what you know of the AIDA model Brian,’ Carrie said smiling warmly.
Brain rubbed his hands together. All he could picture was an imaginary woman, tall and slender and a big smile. ‘Aida, yes, she’s well known, a celebrity on Instagram, she’d be perfect for the high fibre brand you're launching.’
Leyton cleared his throat and stood up to offer his hand. ‘Nice to meet you Brian and good luck with your job search. I’m OOO for the next few days but I’ll be in touch early next week.’
Carrie got up too. ‘Thanks for coming,’ she said pitifully.
‘I’ll show you out,’ said Hailey.
Brian felt very small, tiny, no taller than an ant, insignificant and in constant danger of being crushed. I’m worth nothing, he thought. He decided not to phone Jackie, instead he drove in his Yaris to a local cafe and sipped chamomile tea for an hour. What the hell, he thought, if this is the modern world then you can stick it.
CMO - chief marketing officer
HR - human resources
PR - public relations
TLTR - too long to read
CX - customer experience
YoY - year on year
CRM - customer relations management
NPD - new product development
MVP - minimum viable product
CM - celebrity marketing
AIDA - awareness interest desire action
OOO - out of the office