Attenuated – Part Four

Mondays were filled with meetings and status reviews, queues of anxious coders and designers starting their first round of “360” evaluations. Myles was secretly grateful he didn’t have to participate in those. The stories that leaked out during lunchtime were horrific.

Gail’s odd behavior kept looping in his mind. The stern warning, then the blank stare. It hadn’t been anything he had said, had it? He wondered if it was a huge prank being played out at his expense. Descending to the lobby, the elevator was full of polo-wearing techs and suited sales reps.

Release the herd!

Myles visualized the escaping employees as a stampede of cattle, thundering out the turnstiles into the busy city streets. He was more a tumbleweed or curious turtle, waiting until the dust settled to make his way home. He needed to look at the documents again.

There was something he was missing. SuccINCt tailored each of their campaigns to exacting criteria matching the demographic and specific client requirements. With the pressure of Digital Video Recorders and streaming services, they were all too aware of the tendency to skip ahead avoiding ads entirely.

The invisible hand of attention deficit plagued the industry. Was it better to pour more resources into production, raising the bar compared to their competitors, or change the content? SuccINCt had taken a different route, cutting out the fat and condensing pure ad-messaging into “ThinVerts”.

Myles had seen the ThinVert term used throughout the SAS archive. It seemed the most likely place to begin searching for clues. He didn’t watch much television himself. Myles loved movies, he often would sit with friends watching or stream his favorites to his tablet, curled up in bed.

Sometimes, during dry status meetings he’d hold his phone under the table edge, playing a movie with sub-titles. It preserved his sanity in a job that he wasn’t even sure he wanted to pursue as a career. It certainly didn’t match up with the recruitment pitch that got him his internship.

Arriving home, Myles tossed his work bag on the floor grabbing a beer from the fridge. It was a “premium micro-brew”, which happened to also be one of SuccINCt’s clients. Hoovered into the gaping maw of industrial brewers, the name of the hapless brewery was still used. It lent authenticity to the brand.

Myles logged in to his computer, pulling up a browser window.

Trice Triple Bock ticked all the boxes, a dark amber lager produced by Trice brewery before their corporate takeover last year. Myles executed a search for adverts they had posted. A short list populated the screen, one from before the acquisition, and several after.

He clicked on the first ad, thumbnail of a bearded man holding a brown beer bottle standing in front of stainless steel fermentation tanks. “Welcome to Trice, we believe in the best ingredients even if Bob is too drunk to pour them into old Gertie here.” A comedic sketch ensued, where a Trice employee stumbled around the tanks spilling grains from a burlap sack.

Myles chuckled, as the brewmaster caught up with bumbling Bob. The video ended with both men clinking bottles reciting the slogan “Trice-tation”, smiling into the camera.

He scrolled down to the latest video, thumbnail showing gleaming rendered tanks in a cutaway view. The presentation was heads above the first one, shot professionally on high-resolution equipment. Splash presentation, rapid intercuts to a label dotted with condensation.

The pace was tight and synced with the pounding soundtrack. Liquid amber background undulating behind multiple slices of pouring beer laid on top. It concluded with a rapid fly-through of the brewery, resting on the Trice logo fading into a black background. The running time of the video was short, almost half of the first one.

Myles looked at the first video running time. It was nearly 4 minutes. The SuccINCt videos were 3, 2, and 1 minute 30 seconds. But why shorter? He knew that budgeting for a given campaign didn’t vary too widely. The only extras were effects rendering times and billable hours for client changes.

The trend was obviously down, but Myles didn’t know why.

Clicking on the SAS archive, he began reading more carefully. The first pass he had made only scratched the surface. The answer was here, he was sure of it. Hours passed, sunset fading into the still of night. Cool breeze creating dancing shadows from the trees outside.

He was halfway through the archive. Scrolling down one more line, folder labeled “OCS Redefined”. Myles clicked, swearing it would be the last one before turning in for the night. His weary body felt hollow and worn. Expanding the folder, he clicked on “Introduction”.

Operant Conditioning is well known and largely confined to positive and negative reward systems. We propose a more original approach, where the subject is given stimuli in concentrated sessions designed to enhance attention deficit yielding exploitable results.

Myles stopped cold. Operant Conditioning? He knew advertising was linked to internal desires and creating need, but not on such a fundamental level. What was Prototyping up to? He chewed on his lower lip, scanning through the document. Large sections of text referred to scientific studies, with notations added in red.

This was it. SuccINCt’s core strategy.

He clicked on the next document.

There was so much to understand.

(To be continued.)